More than four million people a year visit Metzingen. Cologne, Germany’s fourth-largest city, welcomed approximately 3.9 million visitors in 2019. What makes Metzingen with its 22,000 inhabitants a magnet for visitors?
Hidden under the bustle of Stuttgart, the town of Metzingen is half an hour’s drive away. At the foot of the Swabian Alps, too high for hills, too low for mountains. The area is vast and wooded. Metzingen was known for its textile and leather goods industry. A certain Mr Hugo Ferdinand Boss established his factory there. In the 1970s, Boss started selling from his factory. Hugo Boss developed into a global player. Production was moved to the low-wage countries in the Far East. As was customary in the clothing industry at the time. This gave room for a new interpretation of the factories and the site. Other clothing brands showed an interest in selling directly to customers as well. The Boss factory site was gradually redeveloped into an extensive shopping center; the birth of Outlet City Metzingen. Two years ago, the retail space was expanded by another third. With 500 brands and 40,000 m² of floor space, this is the largest outlet center in the world.
City of shops
The real center of Metzingen is now glued to the Outletcity. Another color of paving stone marks the transition from the slick brand shops, where the rule applies that products must be at least 30% cheaper than the retail price, to the local shops. A pretty crazy situation actually. Most of the former textile factories have now been given a new purpose. Room for expansion is still very limited. Hugo has now taken a step back, his descendants still have an interest in Holy, the company behind Outletcity Metzingen. Holy is developing a hotel and is also strongly committed to digitization.
Shop till you drop
Metzingen is heaven for bargain hunters and shopping enthusiasts. The superlative of retail tourism. It is busy. Everywhere people with bags and queues for the shops. You can easily spend a weekend here, although it is deserted on Sunday. Germany still respects the traditional Sunday rest, which means that shops are prohibited by law from opening on Sundays. If you don’t like shopping, you’d rather skip Metzingen. After all, the shops are the attractions and sights. Of course, it is also just one destination in the sloping Baden Württemberg region that has much more to offer. The Swabian Alps are a wonderful area for walking or cycling.
Cycling among the bombs
Gruorn is a deserted village in the middle of the biosphere area Swabian Alps, half an hour from Metzingen. Only a church, school building and the foundation of some houses remain. For years, the area around Münsingen has been used as a military training area. After the area was partly cleared in 2008, it has been designated a UNESCO biosphere area. These are areas with a special status where people and nature live together and sustainability is central. Cycling and walking paths have been laid out. Furthermore, nature is given plenty of space. The sloping character of the area makes the electric bicycle a comfortable means of transport. The standard cycle routes are already neatly pre-programmed. Another advantage of an e-bike. You don’t see much of the illustrious past of the area. Everywhere there are warning signs of skulls crossed with bones not to leave the beaten track. That makes us curious which invisible remnants of the past are present. The barracks of the former camp have been restored to their former glory and offer space for artists and starting entrepreneurs. For a nice overview of the Biosphärengebiet Swabian Alb we climb the 40 meter high and yet quite shaky watchtower. It feels like alone in the world, close to but also far away from the biggest shopping paradise in the world.
We visited Metzingen at the invitation of Outletcity Metzingen. We stayed in Boutique hotel Kitz