Karlsruhe is located in the Rhine-valley, where the french-german border makes this sharp twist from north-south to east-west. Karlsruhe is sometimes referred to as the 'Gate to the Black Forest', although this term is more correctly applied to the city of Pforzheim. Karlsruhe lies at the north-western edge of this beautiful wooded mountain range.
There are a few possibilities to get to Karlsruhe. First and least recommended is travelling by car. You can reach Karlsruhe via the A5 from Frankfurt or Basel, or via the A8 from Stuttgart (for more information on german freeways see Driving on Autobahns in Germany). Another way of travelling to Karlsruhe is by air. There are four airports in the vicinity of Karlsruhe: Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Strasbourg (France) and last, but not least, the Baden Airpark near Baden-Baden. From each of these, you have to travel on by car or train for up to an additional hour. The recommended way of getting to Karlsruhe is travelling by train from almost anywhere.
Why is this method recommended? Because Karlsruhe has a great system for public transport: The Straßenbahn. This is a system of electric trains, which cross the city and many of the surrounding smaller towns. Every inhabitant of Karlsruhe has a stop for the Stra enbahn or the bus within 250 meters of his home. There's absolutely no need for a car in Karlsruhe.
The primary nickname of Karlsruhe is 'Resindence of Justice' as the highest court of german law, the Bundesverfassungsgericht(federal constitutional court) is located here. As another highlight, the oldest german informatic faculty is part of the university of Karlsruhe (the 'Fridericiana').
As a consequence, the city is full off lawyers and civil servants, but that doesn't bother that much, because thousands of students are a good counterbalance. In addition, Karlsruhe has some outstanding touristic 'have-to's':
- The pyramid in the center of the town, on the market place. It's the tomb of Margrave Karl Wilhelm of Baden-Durlach, who founded the city on 17th June, 1715 in the middle of the Hardtwald.
- The palace of the Margrave with the tower, which is the center of the fan, the original layout of the city. You can see the tower from anywhere in the city, if you stand on one of the major axis. The palace tower is located at 8 24' 18'' eastern longitude and 49 00' 54'' northern latitude, 117 m above sea level.
- The zoo and citypark with its now famous enclosure for polar bears. At the time of writing this (late 2000), it is the most modern in europe. If you see it, you like to be reborn as a polar bear in Karlsruhe asap. :-)
- The Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie ZKM (center for art and media technology) with some, err, 'interesting' exhibitions. :-)
- The Südstadt (southtown), a city quarter with a very international population and many pubs and restaurants of all kinds.
You can get additional information about Karlsruhe at www.karlsruhe.de, there are quite a few international pages (english and french).