Sandwiched between two of Germany's more prominent destinations, Heidelberg and Stuttgart, Karlsruhe seems often bypassed by foreigners. This is a shame, because while Karlsruhe doesn't have marquée centuries-old crumbling buildings found in the other two locations, it is because it has undergone significant reconstruction and restoration. So while some may prefer to see ancient structures in their untouched (re: crumbling) condition, others may find the bright and cheerful of Karlsruhe's structures a welcome alternative. And Karlsruhe's marketplaces are every bit as nice as those of its more noteworthy neighbors.
Although not the city's 'official' color, cream yellow is by far the most prominent color on Karlsruhe's main buildings. Three of the photos in this travelogue feature cream yellow buildings.
The first photo shows Karlsruhe's main attraction, the Palace. The Palace is the dominant feature in the city, swallowing up a large circular chunk of the inner city. Its shape is strange, that of a "fan". The legend behind this is that a prominent man named Karl Wilhelm had a dream while sleeping under a tree, that he should build a city like a fan. And so, the palace was built like a V, with the roads radiating out from it, just like a fan!
The Palace now serves as the Baden State Museum (Landesmuseum), and the castle gardens surrounding it are open freely to the public. Look for a blue-tiled path leading from the center tower toward the back of the garden -- the tiles commemorate the city's reknowned ceramic industry.
Much of Karlsruhe is new or newly reconstructed. The Schwarzwaldhalle has been given a recent facelift, for example (to include a cream yellow paint job). It is one of several attractions at the Festplatz in the southern side of the downtown (just a short distance from the train station). It, along with the Kongresshaus (shown in this photo) and Nancyhalle nearby, host concerts and events year-round.
Karlsruhe is loaded with museums. The most impressive one is the Natural History Museum in the Friedrichplatz just north of the Kriegstrasse (route B10 cutting west to east through the heart of the city. It contains both prehistoric animal and geological exhibits. To the northwest, at the point on Karlsstrasse pointed to by the west wing of the Palace, is the Municipal Museum that details the city's history and reconstruction after World War II. Closer to the Palace is the State Art Hall and Orangery, a rather ungainly-looking building that actually houses an impressive art collection.
Amongst all these attractions is a large shopping district. The fourth picture shows the Marktplatz and its main features -- the Rathaus (town hall) and the Pyramid. (While the Rathaus isn't predominantly cream-yellow, they used that color as the trim). Several hundred meters long and wide, the Marktplatz is a very busy place.
There is quite a lot to see off the beaten path. Starting to the east along Kaiserstasse, you will first encounter St. Bernhard's Church, beautifully made of red-brick and now celebrating it 100th anniversary. Further down is the Lutherkirche (shown in the next photo), which a simple Lutheran church with an engraving of the famous cleric in the front. The cobblestone construction is unlike that of any church I've ever seen. Turning right down Wolfartsweiererstrasse, you will come upon the Schloss Gottesauer, which was once an abbey but is now a music school. Spend a moment there and it is likely you will hear the classics coming out the windows of that bulbous-towered building.
Rounding out the travelogue (and the cream-yellow theme) is the Staatstheater, about a block south of the Marktplatz. It's a beautiful structure and constantly hosting performances, but it is only one of fourteen theaters in the downtown area. Between it and the various theaters at the Festplatz are a dozen small theaters, including a children's theater and a historic filmhouse.
So, if you've ventured around Germany and found old-and-crumbly to be old hat, perhaps a modern, vibrant, and cream-yellow place like Karlsruhe might suit you better.
Trip taken 13 February 2002 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin