Monday, February 9, 2015

A winter daytrip to Karlsruhe


Karlsruhe is a medium-sized city in the south of Germany, often overlooked by tourists due to its lack of history and interesting sights. Founded in 1715, the city is just about to celebrate its first 300 birthday and is indeed a baby by German (and European) standards. So no chances then to see any impressive gothic cathedral or to stroll along cobbled streets and alleys that converge in a medieval square full of history and stories to tell. To make things worse, most of Karlsruhe was destroyed during the allied bombings of WWII. So yes, not much to see for those thirsty of culture and history. 


Karlsruhe Schloss


A couple of weeks ago I took a train - actually two - and went to Karlsruhe for a daytrip. I wasn't seeking culture or history; I was only looking forward to doing some window shopping, as I had seen that most of my favourite brands have a shop in Karlsruhe and either they don't in Basel or prices are more expensive here. 

After three hours in the train and a bit of snow, a bit of sunshine and some clouds, after endless stops on regional trains and changing trains in Offenburg, I arrived to Karlsruhe station with no clue of where to turn to. The tourist office was right in front of the station but the staff didn't seem too bothered to pay attention to people coming in. Maybe it was because I entered the office barely ten minutes before their lunch break. Or maybe they are not so used to having tourists around there, especially on a cold winter day. I took a looked at a city map hanging on the door whose colours had faded long ago, I grabbed a copy for myself and never opened it again.


Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe


With the street grid on my mind I walked towards the city centre and passing by the zoological gardens, which looked rather gloomy in winter, a church here and there, some thermal baths and the huge Ettlinger Tor shopping centre, I got to the Marktplatz. All the way I felt rather discouraged because once I passed the zoo the whole city seemed to be under construction with cranes, excavators and holes on nearly every street from there to the Marktplatz.


Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe


The Marktplatz is a large square with the town hall on one side and the Stadtkirche -one of Karlsruhe main churchs - on the opposite side. A pyramid somewhere in the middle of the square marks the place of the tomb of Karl Wilhem, the founder of the city. But with so many construction works going on in the city even the pyramid was gone, so not much to be enjoyed around the Marktplatz this time. From the Marktplatz is it already possible to catch a glimpse of the majestic palace, now a museum - more about Karlsruhe Palace coming soon.


Karlsruhe Marktplatz

Karlsruhe Marktplatz

Karlsruhe Marktplatz


That was pretty much all about the touristy part of my trip to Karlsruhe. Not that much to see indeed, especially now that most of the city centre was under construction works. But when it comes to shopping, Karlsruhe proved to be a great city. Kaiserstrasse, on the southern side of the Marktplatz, is the main shopping street and interesting stops (for me) were Zara Home, Hunkemöller and Primark. Besides, the Ettlinger Tor shopping centre had almost every brand you can think of here in Europe, including Mango, Zara and Esprit.


Have you ever been to Karlsruhe? Any interesting sights I missed?
Any shopping recommendations in Germany?

Have a lovely week!


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