Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg, South Germany, is the place where I was born and have been living nearly all my life. It is not only my hometown on paper but also very much so in my heart. You've often seen parts of it - the palace grounds, the parks, the view from my kitchen window - featuring on my blog, and earlier this year, I've decided to add a new label on my blog for those Ludwigsburg-specific posts.
I love reading about my town's history, such as this book, or seeing Ludwigsburg from a different perspective as usual, such as here.
Therefore, when I saw this book at my parents', I asked to borrow it, and have finished reading it this week. The title means "The Town's Baroque Heart", referring to the market square. It tells the story not only of how the first markets here came about, but also talks of what else has been taking place here over the past 300 years.
2015 was the 300th anniversary of the weekly markets on this square; a fitting occasion to publish such a book.
Compared to most of the surrounding towns and villages, Ludwigsburg is a young city. There was nothing but woodland here until the year 1704, when the then Duke of Württemberg, Eberhard Ludwig, decided he wanted a "small hunting lodge" built for him and his hunting parties to use when they were in the area.
The house soon grew into a palace, and the idea of having a town next to it was born. At first, not many people wanted to live here. But when the Duke promised to not only supply building material for private housing but also offered the first 10 years tax-free, the small settlement around the palace began to expand.
As of 2015, Ludwigsburg has more than 90.000 inhabitants.
The market is still a regular feature: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays it's groceries, flowers, cheese, meat, fish, bread etc. One chapter in the book introduces some of the exhibitors. Some families have been selling their produce on the market for generations, while others are relative newcomers. But they all agree on that they feel like part of a family on the square, occupying the same spot week after week.
Then there are the yearly events such as the big Market Square Festival, held in the summer, and of course the wonderful Christmas Market (which I have talked about before on this blog, for instance here), which starts next Tuesday.
Old photographs and drawings show what the square looked like at various points in history. At times there were trees surrounding the fountain in its centre with Eberhard Ludwig's statue on it, and for decades, it was used as a parking lot (I remember that from my childhood). Today, there are neither trees nor cars on the square, but it is what it was designed to be: the place for markets and festivals, for meeting friends, sit in the sun, have a drink or an ice cream in the summer, or find presents for your loved ones at Christmas time.
The last part of the book contains recipes handed in by readers of Ludwigsburg's daily paper, all cooked with ingredients fresh from the market.
I really enjoyed this book; a great present for anyone who knows and loves Ludwigsburg.
The author, Beate Volmari, is a journalist with a background in art history and archaeology.