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City Portrait Karlsruhe

Sunanda Rao-ErdemMarch 2, 2005

It is said that Karlsruhe was a vision that came to its founder Karl Wilhelm in his sleep. Today it's a city known for its openness and tranquility, where visitors can enjoy Mother Nature at her best.

Karlsruhe came into being after appearing as a vision in a dreamImage: dpa

Renowned for its hospitality and warmth, Karlsruhe from the very start was designed as a welcoming city without walls. The Rhine plains stretching between the Black Forest in Baden-Wurttemberg and the Vosges mountains of France provided optimum conditions for the successful foundation of a new city.

Karlsruhe is also known as the "green city." With more than 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of extensive green areas and cultivated public parks with magnificent old trees and beautiful gardens, it's perfect for anyone looking for tranquility and relaxation.

A geometric plan

But it's not just its natural beauty that attracts people to Karlsruhe. Karl Wilhelm founded the city in 1715 along star-shaped avenues emanating southwards from his palace. This resulted in the world-famous "Facherstadt," or fan city, which continues to shape the city center even today.

Karlsruhe Schloss
Karlsruhe Castle: Front view with gardens and fountainsImage: dpa

The neoclassical architecture that gives the inner city its special charm was the work of 19th century architect Friederich Weinbrenner. The clear geometric structure of the city helps its 285,000 inhabitants orient themselves easily. Both the city center and the outer districts are lavishly constructed, while its proximity to the French border and the Alsace region gives Karlsruhe a certain French flair.

A noble tradition of culture

The princes of the Baden region generously promoted arts and culture, and the tradition is still in place. These days, this responsibility has been taken over by the State Theater of Baden and several private theaters, the Academy of Fine Arts, the Prinz-Max-Palais museum and many more. Karlsruhe's Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) houses the largest collection of modern-day media art in Germany.

Karlsruhe also hosts "Das Fest," the largest non-commercial open-air festival in Germany, which attracts over 100,000 visitors annually.

Bundesgerichtshof in Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe is known as the "home of law"Image: AP

But for many Germans, Karlsruhe is not the capital of parties but of more serious things. Both the Federal Constitutional Court and the Federal Supreme Courts are located here.

First direct Internet

In addition, Karlsruhe's transport system is regarded internationally as an innovative and high-quality local public transport system. The dual system enables trams to run from neighboring towns direct to the main streets of Karlsruhe by linking the tram network to regional and local railway lines.

Karlsruhe is not even 300 years old, but it has a rich tradition as a city of science, research and high-tech.

The University of Karlsruhe is one of the leading universities in Europe. Founded in 1825, the "Fridericiana" University has world-class science and technology departments. It was here in November 1989 that Germany introduced its first direct Internet connection. The university's computer science faculty has received worldwide recognition and is considered one of the most innovative training establishments of its kind.

Karlsruhe enjoys the image of a big, modern city that, for all its dynamism, has lost nothing of its old-fashioned charm and appeal.