The city of Karlsruhe is in south-west Germany, north of Stuttgart and only 15 km from the French border to the west. World-famous for its radical design, with a castle in the centre and streets radiating from it like sunrays, it remains a vibrant and contemporary artistic hub. The main railway station, Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof, is located south of the fan-shaped city, and visitors arriving by train can head north from the station to get to the city centre within a 10-minute stroll. Karlsruhe has good connections to other German cities by ICE high-speed trains on the Deutsche Bahn network. Many travel by train to Karlsruhe from Frankfurt, and this journey takes 1h06mins. Or, the train to Karlsruhe from Stuttgart takes 1h09mins on the Inter-City Express.
If those visiting Karlsruhe want to start at the city’s main attraction, it is a 30-minute walk north from the main station to the part-Baroque, part-Neoclassical Schloss. With the city’s 32 streets radiating out from this castle, the urban planning was so forward-looking that Washington DC was founded based on its layout. Inside the palace, the Badisches Landesmuseum houses many treasures, including a jewelled crown. Visitors can enjoy the best view of the city from the top of the palace dome.
To move on to more contemporary works of art, visitors can take a 10-minute stroll south-west to the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe (a modern art museum), which boasts a world-class collection of works by Gothic and German masters, like Matthias Grünewald, as well as Impressionist masters, such as Monet and Renoir. After visitors have had their fill, a further 6-minute walk to the south-east, via Zirkel, brings them to Karlsruhe’s most famous square, the Marktplatz. It contains a pyramid marking the tomb of the city’s founder, as well as a fountain and the city hall.
The area around the Marktplatz is the best to seek out a bite to eat. Visitors have the option of Greek, Thai, or Italian menus here, but some might prefer to choose from the range of cosy beer gardens, cafes and restaurants for a spot of traditional German cuisine. Popular dishes include Maultaschen (a local version of ravioli) or Dampfnudeln (a dumpling based on white flour, which can be either sweet or savoury). Those who love wine should sample one from the local varieties of grape, such as Riesling, Auxerrois, or Weißburgunder.