For a heady century the small town of LUDWIGSBURG was adorned with grandeur as the seat of the Württemberg dukes and Germany's largest Baroque palace. During that time a planned town was developed on the basis of free land and building materials, and a fifteen-year tax exemption. The elegant Marktplatz at the centre of the town is a reminder of these planned origins with its perfectly balanced streets radiating from a statue of Eberhard Ludwig flouncing atop a fountain.
When Friedrich I's Neues Schloss rose in Stuttgart, 14km to the south, Ludwigsburg suddenly reverted to provincial obscurity, although its Versailles-inspired palace continues to draw visitors and delight those who enjoy all things Baroque – the town returns the compliment by theming as much as it can – including its Christmas market – in this style. Other seasonal high-points include the mid-May Pferdemarkt, a traditional horse festival, with much clip-clopping around town; the Schlossfestspiele (June to mid-Sept; Web: www.schlossfestspiele.de ), a classical music, opera, dance and theatre festival; and, in early September, the Venetian-style costume Carnevale.