Founded in 1715 as Karlsruhe Palace, the surrounding town became the seat of two of the highest courts in Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht) whose decisions have the force of a law, and the Federal Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof) , the highest court of appeals in matters of civil law and criminal law. It therefore considers itself the home of justice in Germany, a role taken over from Leipzig after 1933.
The city takes its name from Margrave Karl Wilhelm of Baden-Durlach, who founded the city on June 17, 1715 after a dispute with the citizens of his previous capital, Durlach. The founding of the city is closely linked to the construction of the palace. Karlsruhe became the capital of Baden-Durlach until 1771, thereafter the capital of Baden until 1945. Built in 1822, the "Ständehaus" was the first parliament building in a German State. In the aftermath of the democratic revolution, a republican government was elected here.
Much of the downtown area, including the Schloss, was reduced to rubble by Allied bombing during World War II but was rebuilt after the war.
Karlsruhe has always hosted the military.
The city's altitude is between 100 m (on the western shore of the river Rhine) and 322 m (near to the TV Tower). Its geographical coordinates are ; the 49th parallel runs through the city center. Its course is marked by a stone and painted line in the Stadtgarten (city park).
The city was planned with the tower of the palace (Schloss) at the center and 32 streets radiating out from it like spokes on a wheel, or ribs on a folding fan, so that a nickname for Karlsruhe in German is the "fan city" (Fächerstadt). Almost all of these streets survive today.
The city center was the oldest part of town and lies south of the palace in the quadrant defined by nine of the streets. The central part of the palace runs east-west, and there are two wings of the palace, each at a 45° angle to the center, so that they are pointing southeast and southwest (i.e. parallel with streets at the ends of the quadrant defining the city center).
The market place is on the street running south from the palace to Ettlingen. The market place has the town hall (das Rathaus) to the west, the main Protestant church (Evangelische Stadtkirche) to the east, and the tomb of Margrave Karl Wilhelm in a pyramid in the center. The architect Friedrich Weinbrenner designed many of the most important buildings. That is why Karlsruhe is one of only three large German cities in which building ensembles exist in Neoclassicism style.
The area north of the palace is a park and forest. East of the palace there originally were gardens and more forest, some of which remain, but the University, Wildparkstadion, and residential areas have since been built there. West of the palace is now mostly residential.
Karlsruhe is the seat of the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) and the highest Court of Appeals in civil and criminal cases, the Bundesgerichtshof. The court came to Karlsruhe when the provinces of Baden and Württemberg were merged. Stuttgart, capital of Württemberg, became the capital of the new province, and Karlsruhe was given the high court in a compromise.
The Technologieregion Karlsruhe is a loose confederation of the region's cities in order to promote high tech industries; today, about 20% of the region's jobs are in Research and Development which gives a good basis for high tech.
Due to the University of Karlsruhe providing services until the late 1990, Karlsruhe became known as the internet capital of Germany. The DENIC, Germany's Network Information Centre, has since moved to Frankfurt, though, where DE-CIX is located.
The library of the University of Karlsruhe developed the Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog, the first internet site that allowed researchers worldwide (for free) to search multiple library catalogues worldwide.
Karlsruhe is also the home of the Karlsruhe model tram-train system.
Karlsruhe is well-connected via road and rail, with Autobahn and InterCityExpress connections going to Frankfurt, Stuttgart/Munich and Freiburg/Basel. Since June 2007 it has been connected to the TGV network, reducing travel time to Paris to only three hours (compared to 5 hours previously).
The nearest airport is part of the Baden Airpark (officially Flughafen Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden) about 45 km (28 miles) southwest of Karlsruhe, with regular connections to airports in Germany and Europe in general. Frankfurt International Airport can be reached in about an hour and a half by car (one hour by InterCityExpress); Stuttgart Airport can be reached in about one hour (about an hour and a half by train and S-Bahn).
Jews settled in Karlsruhe since its foundation. They were attracted by the numerous privileges granted by its founder to settlers, without discrimination as to creed. Official documents attest the presence of several Jewish families at Karlsruhe in 1717. A year later the city council addressed to the margrave a report in which a question was raised as to the proportion of municipal charges to be borne by the newly arrived Jews, who in that year formed an organized congregation, with Rabbi Nathan Uri Kohen of Metz at its head. A document dated 1726 gives the names of twenty-four Jews who had taken part in an election of municipal officers. As the city grew permission to settle there became less easily obtained by Jews, and the community developed more slowly. A 1752 Jewry ordinance stated Jews were forbidden to leave the city on Sundays and Christian holidays, or to go out of their houses during church services, but they were exempted from service by court summonses on Sabbaths. They could sell wine only in inns owned by Jews and graze their cattle, not on the commons, but on the wayside only. Karlsruhe was the seat of the central council of Baden Jewry. The first chief rabbi of the country Rabbi Asher Lowe was from (Durlach) Karlsruhe, Nethaneel Weil war Rabbi in Karlsruhe from 1750 until his dead.
A memorable date in the annals of the Jews of Baden, especially memorable to the Jews of Karlsruhe, was the year 1783, when, by a decree issued by Margrave Carl Friedrich (1746-1811), the Jews ceased to be serfs, and consequently could settle wherever they pleased. The same decree freed them from the "Todfall" tax, paid to the clergy for each Jewish burial. In commemoration of these happy changes special prayers were prepared by the acting rabbi Jedidiah Tiah Weill, who, succeeding his father in 1770, held the office until 1805. In 1808 the government issued regulations concerning the administration of the spiritual affairs of the Jewish community, by which the chief rabbi of Karlsruhe became the spiritual head of the Jews of the country. Complete emancipation was given in 1862, Jews were elected to city council and Baden parliament, and from 1890 were appointed judges. Jews were persecuted in riots occurring in 1819 and anti-Jewish demonstrations were held in 1843, 1848, and the 1880s. The well-known German-Israeli artist Leo Kahn studied in Karlsruhe before leaving for France and Israel in the 1920s and '30s.
Today, there are about 900 members in the Jewish community, many of whom are recent immigrants from Russia, and a Chabad rabbi.
Karlsruhe has memorialized its Jewish community and notable pre-war synagogues with a memorial park.
In 1933, 3,358 Jewish Germans lived in Karlsruhe. The community owned buildings and property, such as several synagogues, two elderly citizens' homes, a Jewish school, a hospital, welfare institutions and several Jewish cemeteries. During the first years of the Nazi regime, the community continued to function, particularly to prepare Jews for emigration. On October 22, 1938, all male Polish Jews living in Karlsruhe were deported to Poland. Synagogues were destroyed on Kristallnacht, November 1938. Most of the men were arrested and sent to Dachau concentration camp, but were released after they had furnished proof that they intended to emigrate. In October 1940, 895 Jews were expelled during Operation Wagner-Bürckel and interned by the French Vichy authorities in Gurs in southern France. Most of these were then deported from there to Auschwitz (via the Drancy internement camp, on the outskirts of Paris) between August and November 1942. Most of the 429 remaining Jews and other so-called "non-Aryans" were deported to the east between 1941 and 1944. In 1945 there were only 18 Jews in Karlsruhe. More than 1,000 of them had been killed between 1933-45 . The Baden Central Jewish Council was reorganized in 1948. A new synagogue was built in 1969.
(source unknown, figures unconfirmed)
It is also the birthplace of Karl Benz (1844–1929), inventor of the automobile and founder of Benz & Co., now part of Daimler AG (formerly Daimler-Benz), as well as Karl Drais who invented the precursor of the bicycle and other transportation devices.
In the late 1880s, professor Heinrich Rudolf Hertz discovered electromagnetic waves at the University of Karlsruhe; today, a lecture room named after Hertz lies close by the very spot where the discovery was made.
Reinhold Frank, a German lawyer who worked for the resistance in Nazi Germany, ran a law practice in Karlsruhe. In his honour the street in Karlsruhe where the lawyers´chambers was founded bears his name.
Sebastian Koch was born May 31, 1962 in Karlsruhe. He is a German actor.
Oliver Bierhoff, former German football striker for the National German Football Team and Italian Serie A club Udinese and A.C Milan, was born in Karlsruhe.
Muhammed Suiçmez guitarist and composer for German technical death metal band Necrophagist was born in Karlsruhe, Germany on November 23, 1975. Although being from Turkish decent, Muhammed Suiçmez was born and raised in Germany
Regina Halmich, the current female boxing flyweight world champion, is a native of Karlsruhe, too.
Johann Gottfried Tulla, born on March 20, 1770 in Karlsruhe and died on March 27, 1828 in Paris. Tulla studied engineering at the Mining Academy in Freiberg (Saxony) during the 1790s. From 1817 on, Tulla was instrumental in stabilizing and straightening the course of the southern Rhine River, a project that continued until 1879. Tulla was also a co-founder of the Technical University in Karlsruhe (1825).
Karlsruhe is a renowned research and study centre, with one of Germany's finest and worldwide renowned institutions of higher education, namely, the University of Karlsruhe (Universität Karlsruhe-TH) - the oldest technical university in Germany. Karlsruhe is also the home of the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Research Center Karlsruhe), at which engineering and scientific research is performed in the areas of health, earth and environmental sciences, and Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule Karlsruhe-HS), the largest university of technology in the State of Baden-Württemberg, offering both professional and academic education in engineering sciences and business. The Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe is a music conservatory which offers degrees in composition, music performance, education and radio journalism. Since 1989 it is located in the Gottesaue Palace (see picture). The Merkur Internationale Fachhochschule Karlsruhe, University of Applied Science was founded in 2004. It is a private owned state approved business school focussing on international and intercultural management as well as service- and culture-related industries.
In 1999 the ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Centre for Art and Media) was opened. Within a short time it built up a worldwide reputation as a cultural institution. Linking new media theory and practice, the ZKM is located in a former weapons factory. Among the institutes related to the ZKM are the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung (State University of Design), whose president is philosopher Peter Sloterdijk and the Museum for Contemporary Art.
The Stadtgarten is a recreational area near the Hauptbahnhof (main railway station) and was rebuilt during the Bundesgartenschau (Federal Garden Show) in 1967. It is also the site of the Karlsruhe Zoo.
The Marktplatz with the stone pyramid marking the grave of the city's founding father. The pyramid, built in 1825, is the symbol of Karlsruhe. The city is nicknamed Die Fächerstadt (the fan city) because of its deliberate layout, with straight streets running out fan-like from the palace. The Karlsruhe Schloss (palace) is an interesting piece of architecture; the adjacent Schlossgarten, including the Botanical Garden with its palm, cactus and orchid house, invites a walk in the woods stretching out to the north of it.
The so called Kleine Kirche (Little Church), built between 1773 and 1776, is the oldest church of Karlsruhe's city centre.
Another sight is the Rondellplatz with its Constitution Building Columns (1826). It is dedicated to Baden's first constitution in 1818, which was one of the most liberal of this time. The Münze (mint), erected in 1826/27, was built by Weinbrenner too.
The St. Stephan parish church is one of the masterpieces of neoclassical church architecture in Southern Germany. Weinbrenner, who built this church between 1808 and 1814, orientated to the Pantheon, Rome.
The neo-gothic Grand Ducal burial chapel, built between 1889 and 1896, rather a mausoleum than a church, is located in the middle of the forest.
The main cemetery of Karlsruhe is the oldest park-like cemetery in Germany. The crematory was the first to be built in a church-like style.
In Karlsruhe is the Museum of Natural History, an opera house (the Baden State Theatre), as well as a number of independent theatres and art galleries. The State Art Gallery, built in 1846 by Heinrich Hübsch, displays paintings and sculptures from six centuries, particularly from France, Germany and Holland. Karlsruhe's newly renovated art museum is one of the most important art museums in Baden-Württemberg. Further cultural attractions are scattered throughout Karlsruhe's various incorporated suburbs. The Scheffel Association or Literary Society for example is a literary organisation and was established in 1924. It is the largest literary organisation in Germany. Today the Prinz-Max-Palais, built between 1881 and 1884 in historism style, houses the organisation including the museum.
In Karlsruhe there is the only art-ceramics manufacture in Germany, called Majolika-Manufaktur. Founded in 1901, it is located in the "Schlossgarten". A blue streak (Blauer Strahl) consisting of 1645 ceramic tiles connects the manufacture with the palace. It is the world's largest ceramic artwork.
Another tourist attraction is the ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie) - Centre for Art and Media. Its collections are quite exceptional, since they combine art and modern technologies. The Centre is located in a converted ammunition manufactory.
The Baden State Theatre has sponsored the Händel festival since 1978.
Local juggling and acrobatics festivals are held annually.
The city hosted the 23rd European Juggling Convention (EJC) in 2000 and 2008.
In July the African Summer Festival is held in the city's Nordstadt. Markets. Drumming workshops, exhibitions, a varied children's programme and musical performances take place during the three days festival.
In the past Karlsruhe has been the host of LinuxTag (the biggest Linux event in Europe) and til 2006 of the yearly Linux Audio Conference.
Tennis TC Rueppurr (TCR), [Tennis-Bundesliga] (women's first division)
Baseball and Softball Karlsruhe Cougars, Regional League South-East (men's baseball), 1st Bundesliga South (women's softball I) and State League South (women's softball II)
American Football Badener Greifs, currently competing in the Regional League Central but formerly a member of the GFL's 1st Bundesliga, lost to the Berlin Adler in the 1987 German Bowl (see also: German Football League)