Festival of European Church Music Schwäbisch Gmünd Located near Stuttgart, the city of Schwaebisch Gmuend – once a Roman castle – had a European start to its history. The town first found mention in a Charlemagne document in the year 784. Upheld by the imperial house of Staufer, it is considered the oldest Staufer town in Germany. In the middle of the 12th century it became a Free Imperial Town. Since 1989, the city invites international choirs, organists, singers and famous ensembles (The Hilliards, Ton Koopman, Philippe Herreweghe) to perform sacred music at the annual festival. More than 20 concerts attract an international audience of 15,000 people during July and August every year. The programme offers a broad variety of events: early, ancient and contemporary church music, gospel, jazz, world music, dance and performance art. The concerts are mostly broadcast on the radio. Additionally, the festival offers master classes and international competitions for composing and organ improvisation. The performances take place in the city’s historical churches and buildings in the surrounding area that reflect eight centuries of European architecture. The city is well known for its small jewellery galleries, baroque-style buildings and market place and is set in a beautiful location at the foot of the Three Emperor Mountains. The area offers a host of interesting places to visit: traditional vineries, fun parks, a Roman-style spa centre and the famous Roman border ruins.