Bohnenviertel (Bean Quarter)
The "Bohnenviertel" is a relic of historic Stuttgart which has managed to survive until the present day. The Bean Quarter is now a wonderful place to stroll around and enjoy a meal or a drink. The shops here are also quite different from those in the city centre. Secondhand bookstores, antique shops, galleries, jewellery and craft shops are a treasure trove for those looking for an unusual present or souvenir.
History of the "Bean Quarter"
In 1392 Count Eberhard III of Württemberg returned from a journey to Prague with the idea of expanding the city. Based on the design of the recently completed Prague New Town the suburb to the south of Stuttgart was extended by the addition of a central trading area, the Hauptstätter Strasse, named after the nearby execution site (Enthauptung = beheading).
The Leonhardsvorstadt was completed around 1415. This was where the craftsmen lived who were dependent on the Nesenbach stream for their water supply - for instance tanners, dyers, butchers - or whose fires constituted a danger to the closely-packed buildings in the heart of the city, e.g. brickmakers, smiths or potters who had to fire their clay pots.
It was the poorer section of Stuttgart's population that lived here. Their staple diet was beans, which thrived on the Keuper marly soil and gave the area its name of "Bohnenviertel", which means Bean Quarter.
Beans were planted in the gardens behind and between the houses, or - with express official permission - even draped round the houses like garlands. There were a great many traditions, songs and rhymes to do with beans.
Towards the end of the 19th century there was a great shortage of living space in Stuttgart. Houses were built on every available site. The gardens of the Bean Quarter were therefore replaced by blocks of buildings where tradespeople settled.
In 1970 the townspeople expressed a wish to preserve the quarter as a typical inner city area where people could live and work. The experts endorsed this idea and in 1976 another competition was announced with the aim of modernising and conserving the Bean Quarter without destroying its typical, unique character. Importance was placed on maintaining the urbane blend of living and working, preserving the existing old buildings as far as possible and creating new ones which merged with the structures which had evolved over the years. The redevelopment project was completed in the early 1990s and is considered a prime example of successful redevelopment of evolved areas in critical inner city locations.