Karlsruhe — nicknamed the ‘fan city’ (‘Fächerstadt’)

Karlsruhe Palace at night

Founded in 1715, Karlsruhe is nicknamed the ‘fan city’ (‘Fächerstadt’) due to the distinctive way in which it is laid out — the streets radiate out from the palace which forms the city’s core like the creases of a fan. It is also a synonym for Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, which is based here. Boasting almost 2000 sunny hours a year, it is also one of Germany’s warmest cities.

Things to see and do

The Pyramid

The Pyramid

In German, ‘Karlsruhe’ means ‘Charles’ Rest’ — the Karl in question being the city’s founder, Karl Wilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, whose distinctive pyramid-shaped tomb is located right in the middle of the town. According to legend, Karl dreamt up the city when taking a nap whilst on a hunting trip.

ZKM — Centre for Art and Media

ZKM at night

The ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie) is an institute for the exhibition, research and development of media and art. It houses the Museum of Contemporary Arts and the Media Museum, and organises a variety of cultural events, including contemporary music performances. The Museum of Contemporary Arts exhibits many well-known pieces by artists like Andy Warhol and Josef Beuys, whereas the Media Museum is the world’s first fully interactive museum, featuring video projects and computer simulations.

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Turmberg (‘Tower Hill’) takes its name from an ancient castle tower, which dates back to the High Middle Ages, when the Hohenstaufen dynasty ruled the local area. You can take Germany’s oldest operational funicular railway — running since 1888 — up to the top, or climb the 528 ‘Hexenstäffele’ (‘Witches’ Steps’) to the summit. Once you do reach the top, you’re rewarded with a beautiful view of the city below.

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Schlossgarten Park

Schlossgarten Park

Karlsruhe has plenty of green space to enjoy a sunny day outdoors. The Schlossgarten Park (Palace Garden Park) surrounding Karlsruhe Palace is one of the city’s best-loved parks. It is a popular spot for barbecues, games and sports, but is also just the ticket when it comes to sunbathing and relaxation.

Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden within the castle grounds

In close proximity to both Karlsruhe Palace and the “Bundesverfassungsgericht”, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, the Botanical Garden is a green oasis filled with historic buildings and exotic plants. It was desigend by two of the most significant architects of Baden, first Friedrich Weinbrenner and later Heinrich Hübsch. In the former orangery popular art works of classical modernism can be marvelled at as it is part of the Kunsthalle art museum today.


Das Fest festival

‘Das Fest’ is Karlsruhe’s biggest music festival, offering a variety of live acts performing on up to five stages. Some artists playing at the festival are newcomers, whilst others are already widely known. There are loads of food stands selling different types of cuisine, as well as activities for all interests and ages.

Another popular festival is ‘Zeltival’ (a merger of the words “Zelt” (=tent) and “Festival”), starting in mid- or late June and running until mid-August. Concerts and performances take place in a tent and offer a variety of genres, including jazz, world music and cabaret.

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British-German Town Twinnings

Town twinnings between British and German cities play an important role in promoting cultural exchange. Karlsruhe has been twinned with Nottingham in Nottinghamshire since 1969.