As you can imagine, there are interesting World War II sites all over Germany, but Birkenkopf Stuttgart is definitely one of the more unusual ones. Stuttgart’s Birkenkopf, known more locally as Monte Scherbelino, is one of Germany’s many leftover ruins sites. So, let’s explore it.
What is Birkenkopf Stuttgart?
Birkenkopf Stuttgart is one of Germany’s many “rubble hills”—piles of rubble and debris from the Allied bombings of Germany during World War II. These hills go by a few different terms actually:
- Schuttberg – A general German term for a mound of piled up rubble
- Trümmerberg – This term specifically refers to mounds of piled up rubble leftover from World War II, of which there are many in Germany.
- Monte Scherbelino – Just another nickname for the same thing that sounds Italian but is indeed German. It translates to “Shard Mountain” and is how Stuttgart’s Birkenkopf is known locally.
- Birkenkopf is the name of the hill in Stuttgart where you can find this hill of rubble.
Stuttgart, Germany during World War II
During World War II, Stuttgart, Germany was home to some serious industrial capacity in the form of the Bosch, Porsche, and Daimler automotive factories, the SKF ball bearings factories, several military bases, an important central rail station, and more. Because of Stuttgart’s war-making capabilities, the Allies targeted it in a series of 53 bombing raids that lasted 4.5 years—from August 25, 1940 to April 19, 1945.
Both the Royal Air Force and the U.S. 8th Air Force took part in these raids which ultimately destroyed almost 50% of Stuttgart city and killed 4,562 German citizens and 770 foreign forced laborers.
In total, the Allies dropped 27,000 tons of bombs on Stuttgart. After the war, authorities piled up much of the leftover 5.3 million cubic feet of rubble onto Stuttgart’s Birkenkopf, forming the city’s most prominent trümmerberg. (Yes, almost all major German cities have at least one trümmerberg.)
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Monte Scherbelino Stuttgart
Birkenkopf Stuttgart, already a prominent hill in the city, became the location of Stuttgart’s post-war trümmerberg known as Monte Scherbelino. Before the war, this hill was about 1,500 tall. After the war, the rubble raised the hill’s elevation to 1,676 feet.
Birkenkopf Stuttgart is the highest point of elevation in town. From the top, you can see all of Stuttgart and far beyond.
Where is Monte Scherbelino?
Stuttgart’s rubble hill is located on the southwestern outskirts of the city atop the hill known as Birkenkopf. It’s about a 12-minute drive from Stuttgart’s main train station (on a good, traffic-free day).
What to see at Birkenkopf Stuttgart
When you visit Birkenkopf Stuttgart today, you can very clearly still see the piles of rubble from the bombings. You can make out columns, entryways, artwork, sculptures, and more. All piled together in heaps with bits of nature (and lots of lizards) poking through the cracks.
A (very) large cross memorial stands at the top—dedicated on November 19, 2003 by “the entire Evangelical parish in Stuttgart.” Behind the cross is what I would call a large amphitheater-like area where church services are conducted on Sundays.
You can see incredible aerial views of Stuttgart, the Black Forest, the Swabian Forest, and far beyond. At the top and along the way you’ll see a number of small memorials commemorating the lives lost in the bombing raids.
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How to get to Birkenkopf Stuttgart
Being that Stuttgart’s Monte Scherbelino is on the outskirts of the city, it isn’t exactly the easiest location to get to. But, it’s not impossible either.
How to get to Birkenkopf Stuttgart by bus
You can absolutely take the bus to Birkenkopf Stuttgart, but it’s not the most efficient. Taking the bus to Rubble Hill from Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof will take about 45 minutes, not including wait times (whereas driving will take about 12 minutes). If you’re not at a central location like the Hbf though, you’ll have to change buses a few times which will greatly increase your travel times. From my hotel it was going to be about an hour and a half.
Taking the bus to Birkenkopf Stuttgart is not what I would recommend so I’m not going to go into detail about it. But, if that’s what you want to do, you’ll want to take bus line 92 to the “Birkenkopf” stop.
The best way to get to Birkenkopf Stuttgart
Taking a car to Birkenkopf Stuttgart is the absolute fastest and easiest way to get there. However, it’s not the cheapest, unfortunately.
If you have your own car, perfect! Put “Parkplatz am Birkenkopf” into your GPS and head on over. Still need a rental? Check out the best rental cars in Stuttgart here.
From Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, it’ll take about 12 minutes. From Stuttgart airport, about 15 minutes. From Stuttgart Center (Stuttgart-Mitte), about 15 minutes. From the Wasen, Porsche Arena, and Mercedes-Benz Arena, about 20 minutes.
Where to park for Birkenkopf Stuttgart
Luckily, Stuttgart’s Birkenkopf is a popular park that welcomes visitors of all kinds (not just WWII travelers, I mean). Ergo, there is a dedicated parking lot at the bottom of the hill. On your map or GPS, look for Parkplatz am Birkenkopf.
This good-sized lot is right across the entrance from the Birkenkopf; you can’t miss it. (They have parking for bicycles as well.) From what I’ve found, parking at the Birkenkopf Stuttgart Parkplatz is free.
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Taking a rideshare to Birkenkopf Stuttgart
If you don’t have your own car, you can also take a taxi or rideshare to Birkenkopf Stuttgart. This will save you a ton of time, but is definitely the more costly route. For my particular trip in October 2022, I took an Uber from my hotel over near the Porsche Arena (on the other side of town). It took 25 minutes each way and cost €32 each way.
(Pricey, yes, but this is a site I had been wanting to visit for a few years now that I missed on my last two trips to Stuttgart. My hotel is also a lot farther away from Monte Scherbelino than yours will probably be.)
What to know about Uber in Stuttgart
Uber and Germany don’t exactly get along. So, using Uber in Stuttgart isn’t going to be as widespread and easily available as you’re probably used to. You can use the app, but you’ll probably find that available cars are few and far between. We actually had the same driver there and back because I believe he was the only available driver in the city.
You’ll also notice that, though you’re using the Uber app and your own Uber account, you’ll get a message letting you know that your transaction is actually being routed through a local taxi company instead. So while you’re still using the Uber app, you aren’t being driven by “Uber drivers.”
Regardless, the app still works the same. Payment works the same. Trip tracking is the same. Just don’t be alarmed when you see that message.
You can also have your hotel call a taxi for you. I didn’t do this because I was afraid of having trouble getting another taxi to go back. But, we only spent about 30 minutes at Birkenkopf Stuttgart so, had I thought of it, I would have just paid extra for the driver to wait for us. Always an option.
Birkenkopf Stuttgart: Need to know
Once you arrive at Birkenkopf Stuttgart Parkplatz, cross the main intersection and enter the park by going up the unmarked staircase. (see above) From there, it will be an easy 15-minute walk to the top of Monte Scherbelino via the Birkenkopf wanderweg (trail).
There will be a couple of signs to guide you, but really it’s a simple, straightforward and paved little walk. There’s only one walkway – you won’t get lost. But do be aware of the bikers; they come flying down the hill super fast so just be on the lookout.
On Sundays Birkenkopf Stuttgart hosts church services in the space behind the cross memorial. Find out more about that here.
Where to stay in Stuttgart
If your travels through Germany have you staying overnight in Stuttgart, check out these great options:
- Hilton Garden Inn at NeckarPark – If you’ll be visiting during Canstatter Volksfest or have soccer/futbol in your plans, I highly recommend this hotel. It’s in a quiet location and the service is top-notch. (Fantastic breakfast too!)
- Zur Weinsteige – Cozy hotel that reviewers love for the friendly staff, great location in the city center, and cool design features.
- Kronenhotel – Highly-rated 4-star hotel in the heart of Stuttgart with sauna (don’t mind if I do), gourmet breakfast included!, and a friendly and attentive staff.
- Or check out all Stuttgart hotels here to find the perfect one for you.
What to pack for your trip to Stuttgart
Here are just a few things you’ll need specifically for your trip to Germany:
- Germany guidebook – for all your other sightseeing needs
- Germany customs and culture guide – for all the necessary tidbits other guidebooks leave out
- European plug adapter – so you can use your American electronics in Germany
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