Karlsruhe – Motor of Digitization. This is the slogan of Baden-Württemberg’s second largest city. There is no doubt that Karlsruhe is a powerhouse in the IT sector, where 4,400 companies, 10,000 students, 30,000 jobs and 10 start-up centres connected to the industry are at home. And let’s not forget, it was also the first German city to receive an e-mail on 2 August 1984. In other words, Karlsruhe is buzzing.
As a relatively young city, the centre doesn’t have the medieval lanes and buildings found in many other German towns. Founded in 1715 by Margrave Karl-Wilhelm von Baden-Durlach, Karlsruhe was planned with a fan-shaped layout and a grand palace at its heart. According to the legend, the Margrave dreamed of a town that was “open in both layout and spirit”. And this dream became a reality. Karlsruhe doesn’t dwell on the past, but is open to everything new—to innovations and to the people they bring. Well over half of today’s 313,000 inhabitants were born outside of the city, but have now made their home there.
Several colleges, research institutions and the award-winning Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) have made the city a centre of learning and science. There’s certainly no lack of brilliant minds here and some of the city’s inventions have seen success across Germany and even around the world. In 1817, the forestry official, Karl von Drais, introduced his “running machine” as an alternative to horses. This two-wheeler developed in the second half of the 19th century into what we now know as the bicycle. No surprise then that Karlsruhe was crowned the bike-friendliest city in Germany in 2018. Karlsruhe is also a pioneer in public transport with the introduction in 1992 of the tram-train concept where trams run through the city as well as on the main-line railway alongside traditional trains enabling direct connections to the Northern Black Forest, Heidelberg and Baden-Baden. This Karlsruhe Model has since been adopted by several cities in Germany and around the world.
Picture above: © KTG Karlsruhe Tourismus GmbH
Picture: Fabry © KTG Karlsruhe Tourismus GmbH
This is not the only way that Karlsruhe acts as a role model being the seat of Germany’s two highest courts—the Federal Constitutional Court and the Federal Court of Justice—which is why many crucial rulings are attributed as “Karlsruhe Judgements”. More often than not, the eyes of the country are on Karlsruhe as a high court ruling sets the standards for democratic order.
What Karlsruhe lacks in elaborate Baroque, grand Gothic and romantic timber-framed buildings, the city on the Rhine makes up for with its future-oriented strengths. The city has been showered with awards for years, becoming a Digital Skills and MINT region and Google eTown and scoring highly in future rankings. Most recently, Karlsruhe achieved a prominent position in Bitkom’s Smart City Atlas.
Coming second behind Hamburg and ahead of Stuttgart, the city is one of Germany’s smartest cities and consistently drives digitalisation—which is why Bechtle feels right at home here. Since 1995, 110 colleagues have been driving Bechtle’s success in Karlsruhe, with sights firmly set on the future. In the Industry 4.0 Collaboration Lab, the IT system house presents SME customers a seamless IT infrastructure to test technologies and processes with its partners, the Lifecycle Engineering Solutions Center (LESC) at KIT and the IT Research Centre (FZI). The lab enables business to experience networked production machinery in 3D, driverless cars and intelligent energy systems virtually and first hand. “The lab is place where the topics of the future become reality for business”, says Richard Einstmann, Managing Director, Bechtle Karlsruhe.
Karlsruhe is also making waves in sport and culture. As an innovation partner of Karlsruher SC, Bechtle is working on developing the club’s IT infrastructure for the long-term and supporting the Sandkorn Theatre—a real institution in the Karlsruhe art scene— with virtual reality solutions. That’s how things roll in Karlsruhe. It doesn’t matter if it’s the economy, science, sport or the arts, the digital transformation and everything it brings with it is making itself felt.
Picture: © ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, Uli Deck
Want to experience the Baden way of life? Then visit Karlsruhe. Jürgen Ros, Head of Presales and Sascha Rech, Account Manager at Bechtle Karlsruhe reveal their personal highlights for a trip to the Fan City.
Karlsruhe Palace is at the heart of the city, with 32 streets radiating out from it forming the layout of the town. Built between 1715 and 1718 as the home of the Margraves, the “Versailles of Baden” now houses the Baden State Museum (Badische Landesmuseum). Every summer, the yellow facade becomes a projection screen for the Centre for Art and Media’s (ZKM) light show during the Schlosslichtspiele. Behind the castle are the extensive castle gardens where locals meet to picnic, play sports and escape the stresses of everyday life.
The Turmberg is the former royal seat of Baden located in Durlach. The Turmbergbahn—Germany’s oldest funicular railway—is just one of the ways you can reach the top, where you’ll be greeted with fantastic views over the city and the Rhine valley.
The ZKM (Centre for Art and Media) is housed in a former munitions factory and is a unique combination of a museum, research facility, media archive and library. The focus of the ever-changing, interactive exhibitions is on medialisation, digitalisation and globalisation.
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7:30 am, Karlsruhe’s oldest and nicest weekly market at Gutenbergplatz sells every type of food you could ever want.
Pizza? Barbecue? Or how about some sushi? The Hirschhof connects Hirschstraße and Douglasstrasße and is the place to be for lunch, after work and for a Saturday evening night cap.
A sausage a day..... and butcher, Heiko Brath, has plenty of them. Here, the humble sausage—or Wutz as they are called in Baden—is taken to new levels. Everyone knows dry-aged beef, but Heiko Brath takes dry-aged pork to make his delicious Alte Wutz, which is so good that celebrity chefs, Johann Lafer and Roland Trettl, are counted among Heiko’s customers.
While Karlsruhe is a city that never sleeps, if you need a break, you’ll find nowhere better than the Schlosshotel. The 4 star hotel and restaurant and spa is centrally located near the railway station.
If you are looking for something more unusual, look no further than Hotelwelten Kübler. Alongside standard accommodation, there are a selection of themed rooms to suit every taste—from the Cave Suite to the Building Block room—true to the hotel’s motto: unlike anything else.
The Kaiserstraße is the city’s main shopping area, Where large department stores like Peek & Cloppenburg and Breuninger sit alongside smaller, independent stores and you have the choice between famous coffee shop chains and cosy cafés.
If Baden’s longest shopping street isn’t for you, there’s always the Ettlinger Tor Center at Rondellplatz with 130 shops over three floors.
Head to Ludwigsplatz where you’ll find numerous restaurants, bars and cafés—home to regular after-work parties during the summer months.
Black walls, dark furniture and a perfectly-lit bar, MIAD is a small but perfectly formed cocktail bar. Unlike at other bars, guests coming here have to wait until the door is opened for them.
The Naked Man has been welcoming football fans to the Karlsruhe Wildpark Stadium since 1958 and is the place to meet on match day. The stone sculpture by Emil Sutor has been put into storage during stadium renovations, but will be returned in 2022.
Das Fest is one of Germany’s largest open air events and is a real success story for the city. Since its inception in 1984, Das Fest has grown from a small, free open air festival into an event that attracts over 250,000 visitors and has welcomed acts such as Faithless, Chumbawumba and Simple Minds.
KSC olé, olé! In 2019, the Karlsruher SC football club celebrated its 125th anniversary. The history of the second division club has seen many ups and downs, keeping the members of its 29 fan clubs on the edge of their seats.
Even amateur athletes get their money’s worth in Karlsruhe and the surrounding area with the numerous mountain bike trails, hiking and climbing tours and wind and kitesurfing on the nearby Epple Lake.
This post was published on Feb 25, 2020.