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Rubble Mountain offers striking views of Stuttgart, Germany

Mounds of World War II debris shape the summit of Birkenkopf (Rubble Mountain) near Stuttgart, Germany.

DAVID ROGERS/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAVID ROGERS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 5, 2013

On the west side of Stuttgart, Germany, stands a 1,676-foot monument representing the destruction of the past and serving as a permanent reminder of the consequences of war.

During World War II, Stuttgart was a strong industrial base for Nazi Germany, leading Allied forces to heavily bomb the city, which leveled much of it.

Debris from the destruction was collected and piled up in an area west of the city, creating a hill. Sometimes known as Birkenkopf, the hill also bears the name of Monte Scherbelino, or Rubble Mountain.

The hill is the highest point in the city, standing nearly 1,000 feet above the Neckar River that flows through Stuttgart. This vantage point allows for one of the best views of the city and the surrounding country, when the weather permits.

The hill consists of nearly 15  million cubic meters of rubble, according to the city’s tourist website. That’s about 530  million cubic feet of Stuttgart’s past all jumbled, crumbled and turned into a giant hill. To put these numbers into perspective: New York City’s Empire State Building has a volume of 37 million cubic feet, according to the website newyorktransportation.com/info/empirefact2.html. So, Rubble Mountain must contain the equivalent of more than 14 Empire State Buildings.

Now covered with dirt and grass, Rubble Mountain looks like any other hill. It isn’t until you reach the top that you see mounds of jagged stone that were once elegantly carved pieces of architecture now worn and covered in moss. On my recent visit to this resting place of shattered architecture, fog shrouded the site, providing an eerie aura of a sorrowful past.

Among the debris sits a plaque that says, Dieser Berg nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg aufgetürmt aus den Trümmern der Stadt steht den Opfern zum Gedächtnis den Lebenden zur Mahnung. The plaque roughly translates to, “This mountain piled up after World War II from the rubble of the city stands as a memorial to the victims and a warning to the living.”

At the summit, mounds of debris form a rustic amphitheater. And at the bottom of the amphitheater is a brown, steel cross at least 20 feet high looming over the city below.

According to Stuttgarter-Zeitung.de, the website of Stuttgart’s premiere newspaper, the steel cross replaced a wooden cross that was raised during the hill’s creation in 1953. The website also states that religious services are regularly hosted on the hill.

If you’re looking for a peaceful location and one of the best views of the city, day or night, Rubble Mountain is a historical and must-see location for residents of the Stuttgart area.

DIRECTIONS

From Patch Barracks, take the A831 toward Stuttgart for nearly a kilometer and continue onto B14 for three kilometers. Continue onto Wildparkstraße for one and a half kilometers. And continue onto Rotenwaldstraße for a kilometer. A parking lot sits between where the road splits into Rotenwaldstrasse and Geisseichstrasse. Walk across Geisseichstrasse and you will be at the base of the hill. It’s only a short walk up the path that winds around the hill and leads you to the summit.

TIMES

The hill is always open and features the best view, day and night, when the weather is free of fog or haze.

COSTS

Free

FOOD

If you think you’ll get hungry during your visit, it’s best to bring your own food or snacks. There are no restaurants nearby.

rogers.david@stripes.com
 

Much of the World War II rubble that makes up Birkenkopf (Rubble Mountain) near Stuttgart, Germany, is sculpted architecture that is shattered, chipped and covered in moss.
DAVID ROGERS/STARS AND STRIPES

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