For fans of the automobile, there are a wide range of pilgrimages to be pursued, be it the Nürburgring, Maranello, Bonneville Salt Flats, and many more. Naturally, appeal is subjective, and some might prioritise certain locales above others.

Should you be a fan of the Volkswagen Group, you’ve come to the right place because the Autostadt is the point of focus here. Even if you aren’t a fan of VW AG, stick around for the bevy of photos that will hopefully pique your interest.

In German, the Autostadt means ‘car city’ and it is located in Wolfsburg, right next to VW AG’s headquarters and its colossal car plant. Spanning 250,000 square metres and built with an investment in excess of 400 million euros, the Henn-designed complex attracts around 1.2 million visitors yearly despite not being a “theme park” in the traditional sense.

The most prominent landmark here is the CarTowers, or AutoTurme which is part of the Autostadt car delivery system along with the ellipse-shaped Customer Centre. Both serve to provide Volkswagen customers the unique experience of personally picking up their own cars. This is so the odometer displays precisely “0 km” when they get behind the wheel for the first time at the Autostadt.

Fully automated systems that rely on a vast network of machines and belts help shuttle cars directly from the adjacent Volkswagen factory via an underground tunnel, ensuring they are never driven. These new cars are stored in either of the two towers roughly 24 hours before being delivered to customers, with each being able to house 400 cars within their 48-metre steel and glass structure.

Should visitors want to “feel like a car” being parked in the CarTowers, a guided tour in a panoramic grass lift takes you to the silo’s observation deck on the 20th floor, where you’ll be greeted by a view of the complex and parts of Wolfsburg.

Of course, there are other landmarks within the Autostadt like the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the complex, with the road leading up to it containing an easter egg. If you’ll notice, there a different sections that illustrate different road building techniques used throughout the years, from the use of cobblestone to bricks and modern asphalt that we know today.

Most customers who choose to pick up their car (and regular visitors) will stay at the Ritz, which is positioned with a direct view of the VW Kraftwerk power facility. As part of available packages, most choose to extend their stays so they can better explore the rest of the attractions.

These include the various pavilions dedicated to the individual brand within the Group, all within close proximity to one another. Each one is unique in the way it is designed, with the Porsche pavilion being among the more eye-catching ones as the exterior “skin” is made from stainless steel and shaped to resemble the curvature of the 911’s roofline.

Another major landmark, and the place most would spend a lot of time at, is the ZeitHaus, a museum that pays tribute to historic automobiles. Naturally, there’s a good number of representatives from VW but the exhibits also include fascinating cars like the DMC DeLorean, Jaguar E-Type, first-generation Chevrolet Corvette, BMW 2002 and many more.

All the cars are distributed across five floors, with some being designated as Design Icons while others are part of the Related Rides exhibition. Exhibits are swapped out periodically as some of the working exhibits are sent out to events, so visitors might see a revised line-up with every visit.

Just beside the ZeitHaus is the GroupForum, which contains various exhibition halls that focus on sustainability (Green Level), vehicle development (Autowerk) and design. From a cutaway of a Lamborghini Aventador to the various connecting joints used in Volkswagen chassis, a game that tests your knowledge on sustainability, and a timeline of iconic designs, there’s something here for everyone.

The little ones aren’t left out as well, with various play areas set up to make sure they are entertained. They can even partake in a “driving course” where they will learn the basic and safety aspects of driving in a “school” before trying out for real on small, electric “cars” in a mini city.

The space also contains two cinemas, one of which utilises a curved panorama LED screen playing AutolandD – four fictional short stories about the love Germans feel for their cars. Should you feel famished, there are over 10 restaurants spread across the grounds, including Tachometer, where you can experience the famous VW-made currywurst (yes, it’s a thing).

If you’re itching to drive something, just across the canal are tracks dedicated to all-terrain driving, safety training and even a module to teach you how to drive more efficiently.

During our time there, we joined the safety-training course that focused on the interplay of reaction time, braking and stopping distance, with various versions of the Golf (TSI, TDI and e-Golf) being our training vehicle. More advanced courses are available as well, with prices around the 20-30 euros mark.

The Autostadt is a truly unique place to visit, and a statement of just how far the brand has come since it came to be over eight decades ago. While it might be called a “car city,” the complex more accurately celebrates many things beyond just those with four wheels; from the progression of humankind’s mobility capabilities to evolution of the arts, architecture and design. If you ever find yourself in Germany, you should make it a point to pay a visit and if you’re not, here’s a large gallery for your enjoyment instead. Enjoy.