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With 308,988 inhabitants (July 31, 2020), Karlsruhe is the third largest city in the state of Baden-Württemberg after the state capital Stuttgart and Mannheim. It is the administrative seat of the administrative district of Karlsruhe and the district of Karlsruhe and itself forms an urban district (independent city). The city is the regional center for the Middle Upper Rhine region and transnational for parts of the southern Palatinate.

Karlsruhe, founded in 1715 from today's district of Durlach as a planned Baroque town, was the capital and residence of the former state of Baden. Characteristic of the original city map are the 32 streets all around from the castle to the park and the Hardtwald of the Upper Rhine Plain. Only the southern quarter was built close to the center; Karlsruhe owes the nickname "fan-shaped city" to its fan-shaped floor plan. Friedrich Weinbrenner's classicist buildings shape the image of the city expansion from the early 19th century.

Karlsruhe has been the seat of the Federal Court of Justice and the Federal Prosecutor General at the Federal Court of Justice since 1950 and of the Federal Constitutional Court since 1951, which is why the city is also known as the “Residence of Law”. Numerous authorities and research institutions of supraregional importance are located in Karlsruhe. Of the city's nine universities, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is the oldest and largest, and since 2019 it has once again been a University of Excellence. Large infrastructure facilities such as the two Rhine ports and the second largest refinery in Germany contrasts with an otherwise predominantly medium-sized economy. Karlsruhe is one of the most important European locations for information and communication technology. The Center for Art and Media (ZKM), one of the most important cultural institutions in the city, ties in with this. Others, such as the Badisches Landesmuseum or the Staatliche Kunsthalle, belong to the legacy of the residence period. In 2019, UNESCO accepted Karlsruhe as a “City of Media Art” in its network of Creative Cities.



Karlsruhe Palace


Before the city was founded
Several villages and the cities of Durlach and Mühlburg were located in the vicinity of the planned city of Karlsruhe, which was only founded in the Hardtwald in 1715. These places, which are now incorporated into Karlsruhe as districts, have a much longer history than today's core city.

In Knielingen, Rüppurr and Durlach there is evidence of hatchets and bronze ingots from the Bronze Age. In 1911 a cemetery was found with ten burials from the younger Iron Age. On the edge of a Roman settlement in the Grünwinkel district, three brick kilns and a pottery kiln were uncovered in 1922–1927, which were believed to have operated from the end of the 1st century AD to the end of the 2nd century. A grave field with 44 burials and many other traces such as individual graves, brick kilns or coins indicate a Roman settlement.

In 786 the oldest district Knielingen was first mentioned in a document. The Counts of Hohenberg built the castle complex on the Turmberg near Durlach in the 11th century. In 1094 they donated the Benedictine monastery Gottesaue, on whose grounds Gottesaue Castle has stood since the late 16th century. The monastery favored the growth of nearby settlements such as Mühlburg, Knielingen or Neureut. In the year 1196 Durlach was first mentioned as a town.

In 1525 Mühlburg, Durlach and Neureut joined the peasant revolt. Baden-Durlach became Protestant in 1556 and as a result the Neureuters bought themselves free from serfdom in 1563. When Margrave Karl II moved his residence from Pforzheim to Durlach in 1565, the city experienced an economic and cultural boom.

Rintheim, Durlach, Hagsfeld and Mühlburg were destroyed in the Thirty Years War. During the Palatinate War of Succession, French troops destroyed the royal seat of Durlach, Gottesaue Castle, Rintheim, Mühlburg, Knielingen and Daxlanden in 1689, but Rüppurr was not destroyed.

In 1699 Huguenots who had fled settled in Neureut. A new district developed, which was called Welschneureut. In contrast, the old district was called Teutschneureut.

18th century
Karlsruhe is one of the last major European city foundations on the drawing board. Karl Wilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, swapped the mediaeval narrowness of his former residence in Durlach for a new city that was open in structure and spirit.

According to legend, Karl Wilhelm fell asleep while riding a hunt in the Hardtwald. He dreamed of a splendid castle that lay like the sun in the center of his new residence, the streets of the city were like the rays of the sun. Karl Wilhelm had his dream city designed (see also: planned city) and founded the residence named after him ("Carols Ruhe") on June 17, 1715 with the laying of the foundation stone for the Karlsruhe castle tower.

The actual motives for the foundation have not been passed down. The radial structure, which is also seen as the urban embodiment of absolutism, [22] corresponds to the typology of a hunting star and opened up the Hardtwald as a hunting area. The tower initially served as a hunting and pleasure palace. Karlsruhe only became the residence of the margraviate of Baden-Durlach in 1718.

The city complex has been preserved to this day: the castle is located in the center of a circle from which roads radiate into the city to the south and avenues through the Hardtwald to the north. From the castle tower in the center you can see all the rays. There are a total of 32 streets and avenues. This number corresponds exactly to the division of the compass rose. The southern quarter of the full circle formed the built-up urban area and extended to the Durlach – Mühlburg road, today's Kaiserstrasse. The floor plan is reminiscent of a fan, which is why Karlsruhe is known as the “fan city”. The streets were named after the members of the House Order of Loyalty, which was founded on the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone. The planning, which was entirely geared towards the prince, initially provided neither a town hall nor a market square.

With the letter of privilege dated September 24, 1715, which summarized his idea of ​​a model city and already bore many signs of an ultra-modern image of the state and people, Karl Wilhelm created incentives to colonize Karlsruhe. Much appears in the “privileges” that the European peoples fought for in the revolutions of the following years, up to the 20th century, as a good right for every person: personal freedom, economic freedoms, equality before the law, political participation. 24] People from France, Poland, Italy, Switzerland and many German countries took part in the construction of Karlsruhe. The city's first mayor, Johannes Sembach, was from Strasbourg.

After the reunification of Baden-Durlach with the Margraviate of Baden-Baden in 1771, Karlsruhe was the residence of the entire Margraviate of Baden.

19th century

From 1806 the city was the residence of the Grand Dukes of Baden. In 1818 Grand Duke Carl in Karlsruhe enacted the Baden constitution, which was very liberal for the time. In 1822, the first specially built parliament building on German soil was built in Karlsruhe (Ständehaus Memorial). Friedrich Hecker, one of the leaders of the Baden Revolution of 1848/49, was one of the members of the Baden Estates Assembly.

In 1825, Grand Duke Ludwig I founded the Polytechnic as the nucleus of the University of Karlsruhe, and since 2009 the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. In 1846, one of the first volunteer fire brigades was established in Durlach alongside the Heidelberger.

In the course of the Baden Revolution, Grand Duke Leopold fled to Koblenz in May 1849. Until the suppression of the insurgents in Rastatt by Prussian troops in July, Baden was de facto a republic. With the first German administrative court and with it the first possibility in Germany to enforce civil rights against legal violations of the state, Karlsruhe 1863/64 marked a milestone on the way to turn subjects into citizens.

From September 3rd to 5th, 1860, the Karlsruhe Congress took place in Karlsruhe, the first international specialist congress of a natural science discipline. In 1862 - earlier than anywhere else - the proverbial Baden liberality found its expression in the civil equality of the Jews.

On November 4, 1876, the first symphony in C minor, Opus 68 by Johannes Brahms was premiered by the Grand Ducal Badische Hofkapelle in Karlsruhe. On January 21, 1877, the first horse-drawn tram in Karlsruhe ran. On September 16, 1893, the first German girls' grammar school was opened in Karlsruhe, today's Lessing grammar school.

20th century
In 1901, the population exceeded 100,000, making Karlsruhe a major city. In the course of time, numerous neighboring communities were incorporated or incorporated, including Durlach, from where the city of Karlsruhe was founded.

During the First World War, the city with its arms factories (including German arms and ammunition factories) and its train station was the target of 14 air raids with a total of 168 dead and 344 injured. In the heaviest attack on June 22, 1916, around 40 bombs hit the area at Ettlinger Tor, where a performance by the Hagenbeck circus was taking place. 120 people, including 71 children, were killed.

After the November Revolution of 1918, Karlsruhe lost its function as a residence and became the capital of the Free State of Baden. Karlsruhe was also, as in the times of the monarchy, the seat of the regional commissioner district of Karlsruhe.

The 21st German Fire Brigade Day took place in Karlsruhe from August 3 to 8, 1932. It was the last one before Nazi rule and World War II.

During the Second World War, Karlsruhe lost its political importance when Alsace, unofficially annexed to the Greater German Reich, was combined with Baden to form the Gau Baden-Alsace, the planned Reichsgau Upper Rhine, and its political center was moved to Strasbourg. In the Wagner-Bürckel action, the Jews still living in the area of ​​this Reichsgau were deported to the Camp de Gurs camp. Likewise, the families of the Sinti and Roma, who mainly lived in the “Dörfle”, were deported to Auschwitz in May 1940 from the police headquarters on the market square over the Hohenasperg.

Between 1940 and 1945, 135 air and artillery attacks by the Allies on Karlsruhe are documented, including 13 major attacks with more than 100 bombers. At least 12,000 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped over the city. 1,754 people died and 3,508 were injured. Karlsruhe was, depending on the calculation basis, 24 to 38% destroyed. On April 4, 1945, the French 1st Army occupied the city after little resistance.

After the war, Karlsruhe was added to the American occupation zone and the state of Württemberg-Baden, and since the creation of the state of Baden-Württemberg in 1952, Karlsruhe has belonged to it.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, Karlsruhe became the "residence of law": in 1950 the Federal Court of Justice began its work there. The Federal Constitutional Court followed on September 28, 1951. The first president was the FDP politician Hermann Höpker-Aschoff. From 1952 to 1972, Karlsruhe was the seat of the administrative district of North Baden, and since January 1, 1973 it has been the seat of the administrative district of Karlsruhe.

The 1967 Federal Horticultural Show took place in Karlsruhe. On this occasion, the city garden, zoo and palace park were, in some cases, significantly redesigned and adapted to the leisure needs of the citizens.

In 1969, the city of Karlsruhe was awarded the Europe Prize for its outstanding efforts to promote European integration.

In 1972 the city began to set up pedestrian zones on Kaiserstraße. The current state of a continuous pedestrian zone from Kronen- to Europaplatz was achieved in 1984.


On January 1, 1972 Hohenwettersbach and Stupferich were incorporated. Wolfartsweier joined on January 1, 1973. Grötzingen and Wettersbach followed on January 1, 1975. The municipality of Neureut was the last to be incorporated on February 14, 1975, despite strong resistance from the residents there, following a decision by the State Court. Colloquially, people still speak of “compulsory” incorporation or “compulsory incorporation”.

On April 7, 1977, Federal Prosecutor General Siegfried Buback was murdered on the way to work together with his driver and a judicial officer by terrorists from the Red Army Faction.

On January 12 and 13, 1980, the federal party Die Grünen was founded in the congress center.

Germany's first real e-mails were received and sent on August 2, 1984 in the computing center of Karlsruhe University: The Karlsruhe internet pioneer Werner Zorn answered the official welcome message from the US American CSNET, a manufacturer-independent platform for electronic communication by scientists.

From July 20 to 30, 1989, the third alternative World Games took place in Karlsruhe, an international competition for athletes whose sports are not represented in the Olympic program. 1965 athletes took part in 19 disciplines.

Baden-Airport GmbH was founded on June 13, 1995. In Rheinmünster-Söllingen, 30 km to the south-west, the company expanded a former Canadian military airfield to the Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden airport and thus connected Karlsruhe to the international air traffic network.

21st century
In 2003, in the neighboring Rheinstetten district of Forchheim, the Karlsruhe Exhibition Center was opened to host national and international trade and public fairs.

On September 7, 2005, the ECE Ettlinger Tor shopping center, the largest inner-city shopping center in southwest Germany, opened its doors after a construction period of around two years. About four years earlier, the first inner-city shopping center in Karlsruhe was opened on September 27, 2001 in the former main post office on Europaplatz with the Postgalerie.

On May 25, 2009, the city received the title “Place of Diversity” awarded by the federal government. On January 21, 2010, Prime Minister Günther Oettinger, State Secretary Rainer Bomba and the Lord Mayor of Karlsruhe Heinz Fenrich broke ground for the construction of the tram tunnel on Europaplatz as part of the combined solution, which is supposed to relieve the main shopping street from rail traffic.

In the second quarter of 2014, the population of Karlsruhe exceeded 300,000 for the first time.

In 2015, the city held a summer festival called KA300 to celebrate the city's 300th birthday. The Schlosslichtspiele Karlsruhe, which took place for the first time on the city's birthday, has meanwhile established itself as an annual event.



The Karlsruhe urban area lies entirely on the right bank of the Rhine and predominantly in the Upper Rhine Plain. In the east it includes the Turmberg and the adjacent heights but also the edge of the hill country at the transition from the southern Kraichgau to the northern Black Forest. The districts of Durlach, Wolfartsweier, Hohenwettersbach, Grünwettersbach, Palmbach and Stupferich have been part of the Black Forest Middle / North Nature Park since January 2021.

The Rhine, one of the world's most important waterways, forms the western city limits, to which the state of Rhineland-Palatinate connects. The city center is 7.5 km from the river, measured from the market square. The small tributaries of the Rhine, Alb and Pfinz, flow through the plain in the urban area from the Black Forest and Kraichgau to the northwest. The city of Karlsruhe was founded away from the flood zones of the rivers on the lower terrace of the Upper Rhine (Hochgestade), which overlooks the lowlands of the Rhine floodplains in the west and the Kinzig-Murg-Rinne off the hills in the southeast and east by several meters. In the Rhine floodplains there are several old Rhine waters and the Knielinger See quarry, the largest lake in Karlsruhe with an area of ​​80.5 hectares.

The lowest point of the urban area is at the oil port on the Rhine at 100 m above sea level. , the highest in the animal enclosure at Grünwettersbach at 323.2 m above sea level. and the market square in the city center at 114.9 m above sea level.

The total area of ​​the city is 173.46 square kilometers. In terms of area, it ranks 30th among the major German cities (see: List of major cities in Germany). The largest extension in north-south direction is 16.8 km, in east-west direction 19.3 km.

The 49th parallel runs through Karlsruhe. The city is thus on the same geographical latitude as a large part of the state border between the USA and Canada and (approximately; viewed in west-east direction) the cities of Vancouver (Canada), Paris (France), Regensburg, Prešov (Slovakia) and Hulun Buir (China).

The city is part of the agglomeration of Karlsruhe / Pforzheim, which also includes some municipalities in the Karlsruhe district (especially the large district towns of Bruchsal, Ettlingen, Stutensee and Rheinstetten), the city of Pforzheim, the north-western part of the Enzkreis and the city of Mühlacker and the municipality of Niefern -Öschelbronn in the northeastern Enzkreis. Within the Middle Upper Rhine region, Karlsruhe is one of the 14 regional centers in Baden-Württemberg, which are designated according to the 2002 regional development plan. Cross-border Karlsruhe is part of the trinational metropolitan region of the Upper Rhine. In addition, in the Pamina Eurodistrict (Palatinat, Middle Upper Rhine and North Alsace) there are links with communities in the southern Palatinate and Lower Alsace.

Neighboring communities
The following cities and municipalities border the city of Karlsruhe. Going clockwise, starting in the north, they are called:

Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Stutensee, Weingarten (Baden), Pfinztal, Karlsbad, Waldbronn, Ettlingen and Rheinstetten (all districts of Karlsruhe) and on the opposite side of the Rhine, Hagenbach and Wörth am Rhein (both districts of Germersheim in Rhineland-Palatinate)



With an annual mean temperature of 11.0 ° C, Karlsruhe is one of the warmest cities in Germany and with an average annual sunshine duration of 1805 hours it is also one of the sunniest. With 21.4 hot days and 68.0 summer days per year (averages for the reference period 1981–2010), Karlsruhe has the highest values ​​of all German weather stations in both categories. The mean annual total precipitation of 783 mm (reference period 1981–2010), however, is close to the German average of 789 mm.

The protected location in the Upper Rhine Graben means that Karlsruhe is often oppressive in summer. The winters, on the other hand, are mostly mild and often characterized by the high fog typical of the Rhine Valley. On a long-term average, Karlsruhe has 60.7 frost days and 11.1 ice days per year.

On August 9 and 13, 2003, the then official German heat record, which had existed since 1983, was set in Karlsruhe with an absolute maximum temperature of 40.2 ° C, although it only lasted until summer 2015. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Karlsruhe was −25.4 ° C and was measured on January 18, 1940.

City structure
The urban area of ​​Karlsruhe is divided into 27 districts, which are further subdivided into city quarters, formerly also known as city districts. The eight inner districts are marked in red on the following map, the 19 outer districts in green and yellow. Apart from Oberreut, the Waldstadt and Weiherfeld-Dammerstock, three new housing estates of the 20th century, the outer districts go back to formerly independent towns and villages that are significantly older than Karlsruhe itself.