Esslingen Am Neckar

On Saturday we were greeted with a (relatively) gorgeous day - sunny, with highs in the mid-40s, and a light breeze. After literally weeks of snow, drizzle, and clouds it looked and felt amazing. We decided to take the opporunity to visit a gem right in our own backyard, the largely preserved medieval town of Esslingen-On-The-Neckar, just 15 minutes from downtown Stuttgart via S-Train.

Most of the town's streets look like this: narrow and paved with cobblestones, filled with half-timbered houses from the early 14th century, as well as more magnificent baroque buildings and several important gothic churches. The town existed prior to 777, when it was first recorded in Catholic church records. It was an important trading post when Stuttgart was barely more than a village, a stopover on the route from the Rhine valley to Italy.

This statue tops a fountain dedicated to the "Postman Michael", and relates the 15th-century legend of a postman who found the signet ring of a local rich man on his travels.

He mistakenly shows off the ring at a tavern in Esslingen, unaware that the man to whom the ring belonged was very rich and recently murdered, with the killer unknown. Unsurprisingly, he is charged with the murder and confesses after horrific torture. On the way to his beheading, he passes the relative of the rich victim and realizes that he is the killer, but no one heeds him. He's killed, but every year he torments the real killer, blowing his postmaster's horn and riding around with his head cut off, until the true killer not only confesses his misdeed, but also donates his ill-gotten fortune to a fund to provide all travellers through Esslingen with a small donation.

Next to come is part 2 of Esslingen: The "castle" and the amazing churches!