Geislingen an der Steige: Hidden pearl in the Swabian Alps

Geislingen an der Steige is a small city in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany which not too many people are familiar with. The town looks back on an eventful past and is now an attractive place for young people to live and study. But the one thing it is above all else – a paradise for nature lovers.

by Bettina Ruhland

Bird’s-eye view of Geislingen an der Steige © Bettina Ruhland
Bird’s-eye view of Geislingen an der Steige . © Bettina Ruhland

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
327 €
Visit the Krämermarkt in the pedestrian zone.

Welcome to Geislingen an der Steige

You might be surprised to learn that Geislingen an der Steige is a world star. In fact, you have probably held its most famous product in your hands at one time. This is where the company WMF (Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik) was founded. It produces cutlery, pots, pans and coffee machines which are exported to many countries around the world. Maybe to your home country, too. Yet most Germans haven't even heard of the Geislingen an der Steige.

The ruins of Castle Helfenstein © Bettina Ruhland
The ruins of Castle Helfenstein . © Bettina Ruhland

Because the town is situated in a region where five valleys merge, it is often called the “Five-Valley City”. It owes its nickname to the Upper and Lower Fils Valley, the Rohrach Valley, the Eyb Valley and the Längen Valley. And where there are valleys, there are usually mountains which offer great scenic views. Atop the “Ostlandkreuz” and the “Dreimännersitz am Michelberg” you will be rewarded with a breath-taking panorama of the Swabian Alps. This is the name of the mountainous region in southern Germany on which Geislingen an der Steige borders. The Helfenstein Castle Ruins and the former Ödenturm guard tower are two exciting destinations for weekend excursions.

But where did the city get its long, strange name? Geislingen an der Steige is located on an ancient trade route which once wound its way through the mountains of the Swabian Alps. The German word "Steige" refers to a steep path leading uphill. In this case, it was the trail that the tradesmen had used long ago. By the mid-19th century, however, Geislingen an der Steige received its own train connection. At the time, it was celebrated as a miracle of technology and today it is one of the steepest train lines in central Europe. In August 2015, a so-called “Experience Trail” was opened, featuring historical facts and information about the area around the “Steige”.

The former granary “Alter Bau” © Bettina Ruhland
The former granary “Alter Bau” . © Bettina Ruhland

There are many historical buildings in the centre of town, for example, the “Old Town Hall” in the pedestrian zone. While there, you’ll certainly pass the “Alter Bau”, a building eight storeys high which used to serve as Geislingen’s grain silo long ago.

The Nürtingen-Geislingen University (NGU) operates a campus in Geislingen an der Steige and another in Nürtingen. Depending on what you study, your lectures and seminars will either be held Geislingen or Nürtingen.

More pictures

Living in Geislingen an der Steige

There are a number of popular meeting places in town including numerous cafés in the pedestrian zone and around Schlossplatz. After a tiring day at the library or shopping around town, you can find a quiet spot to relax at the city park (Stadtpark). Students have the advantage that the park is located directly next to the university. It is generally very quiet there, which means it’s a good place to revise for your end-of-term exams in the summer. Residents of Geislingen love to meet at their weekly market and share news and gossip. By visiting the market every Wednesday and Saturday, you can join them and become better acquainted with your new home.

My tip

Definitely go to the “Krämermarkt” in the pedestrian zone where you can browse for bargains.

The Horse Market takes place every year on Carnival Tuesday. But they don't sell real horses there. The most beautiful horses receive prizes and visitors can enjoy traditional specialities. If you're daring, you might treat yourself to a portion of “Saure Kutteln”, an especially popular dish in Baden-Württemberg made with beef tripe. It’s a real test of courage for people who aren’t used to such "delicacies".

If you study and live in Geislingen (or Nürtingen), you should definitely have a picnic or barbecue along the Neckar River. The outdoor swimming pool is the best place to spend sunny summer days. The “Zentral Bar” serves great lunches and the “Green Bar & Lounge” delicious cocktails.

Interview with Dimitra from Greece

Dimitra Bouchari is 20 years old and comes from Greece. She studies Industrial Management and Technology at the Nürtingen-Geislingen University (NGU).

Dimitra from Greece © Privat
Dimitra from Greece . © Privat

Why did you decide to study at the Nürtingen-Geislingen University?

Last semester I came to Germany as an Erasmus student. At first I just wanted to study somewhere in Germany because I wanted to get to know the lifestyle there. I found the subjects offered in the degree programme Business Management at the NGU really interesting. What's more, Nürtingen is close to Stuttgart. That's a city I really like and where my mother grew up.

Has Geislingen met your expectations? Were there any surprises, and if so, what were they?

My campus is in Nürtingen and before I got there, I couldn’t really imagine what a small town would look like or how life would be. I was used to living in Athens and that's why I just assumed that everything would be just as big in Nürtingen. The university, though, is much smaller than mine in Greece. In the end, I came to like it very much because it made it easy to meet with friends and because the town was very quaint and welcoming.

Was it hard for you get settled in Germany? What was the hardest thing for you?

The fact that I had already learned some German in Greece helped me tremendously to communicate better and improve my language skills. As far as accommodation goes, I was able to live in a student hall of residence in Nürtingen. That was definitely the least expensive option.

Was it expensive for you to live here? And was it very different than living in your home country?

For me the cost of living was reasonable because I lived in a student hall of residence. Compared to my home country, the prices in the shops and supermarkets were significantly cheaper. The only things more expensive there were fruit and public transportation.

And what are your plans for the future?

At the moment I’m back in Greece since my Erasmus programme only lasted one semester. Yet after my experience there, I’m quite sure I’ll be returning to Germany. That means I'll be staying in Greece for the coming year to finish my studies. After that I’m planning to get my master’s degree in Germany.

Complete the following sentence: “For me, studying in Germany is...“

... one of the best chances for me to get a job in the future.

Describe Germany in three words

Reliable, orderly, well-structured

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