Germany on Wheels
t was a woman, Bertha Benz, who convinced the country to change from horse and carriage to automobile. The wife of Carl-Friedrich Benz, inventor of the first petrol car, undertook the first long distance journey with her children in 1888, from Mannheim to Pforzheim, to try out the advantages of the horseless carriage. She did it without telling her husband, and it was “probably the best marketing strategy in history”, according to the German Tourist Board. Since then, the roaring car industry has been one of the main economic catalysts in the country. With more than 6 million vehicles manufactured in 2015 and over 200 theme parks and museums related to cars, the country is one big automotive tourism circuit. And these are the pit stops that no car lover should miss.
Autostadt, Wolfsburg, is the car and motoring theme park owned by the Volkswagen group. It spans a total of 25ha and attracts fans of four wheels, who enjoy the architecture and work distributed throughout the different pavilions, like the scent tunnel, between the Audi and Lamborghini pavilions.
The Green Hell
“It can go well or badly for you; you can go quickly or not, but anyone who says they love Nürburgring, is either lying or wasn’t going fast enough,” said Formula 1 driver Jackie Stewart following one of his victories on the former Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit. Popularly known as “the green hell” due to its location in the middle of a forest, this circuit is the Mecca and ideal starting point for fans of motoring. In your own car, for 29 euros a lap, you can enjoy the steep inclines, 73 sharp curves and almost 21km of one of the most technical and dangerous circuits in history.
Two brands, one destination: Stuttgart
A large part of the legacies of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz can be found in this city. During a two-hour visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum, visitors are taken on a journey through the history of the automobile, with 160 vehicles and more than 1,500 pieces in the collection. There are two possible itineraries: Legeng, which shows the chronological development of the industry through seven rooms, and Collection, where cars and pieces are displayed thematically in five rooms.
“I couldn’t find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself,” said Ferdinand Porsche. And he made it the best in the world. The Porsche Museum, celebrating a brand that now belongs to the Volkswagen group, is also a shrine for lovers of architecture. Its structure, supported by just three columns in the shape of a W, seems to hover over the ground. Inside, there are more than 80 vehicles, including gems from the company, such as the 356 and 911.
Munich, BMW territory
No one in Munich will ask “do you like driving?” This is a given. The BMW complex opposite the Olympic Park is an unmissable stop. It is home to the brand’s global headquarters, where you can watch the individual car manufacturing process, visit the museum, home to the company’s history, and go to BMW Welt, a large showroom where you can admire the latest models.
The BMW Vision Next 100, the prototype of the car of the future, was presented in March, and a commemorative exhibition of the centenary, entiled “100 masterpieces: BMW, 100 years of innovative strength and entrepreneurial courage”.
Classic Remise Berlin: ode to the classic car
The Charlottenburg district in Berlin is home to Classic Remise Berlin, a showroom where the stars are classic cars. More than 400 vehicles from all brands and epochs are brought together in the industrial architectural setting of a former tram depot. At this commercial gallery, users can also buy and sell, and tune up their cars at a specialist workshop.