Only 15km from France, KARLSRUHE is one of Germany's youngest cities and a bright and busy place, with some good museums and Baroque palaces. Meaning "Karl's rest", Karlsruhe was created in 1715 by Margrave Karl Wilhelm of Baden as a place to escape his dull wife and spend time with mistresses. It grew as capital of Baden from 1771 and developed as a liberal town where arts and sciences flourished, as did the university that still gives the town a happening feel. After the war it lost out to Stuttgart as regional capital, but as seat of Germany's two highest courts it still plays a significant national role and it is also an important industrial base. Karlsruhe lies at the heart of a well-priced regional public transport network, which puts it within easy reach of the Northern Black Forest and Baden-Baden. One unusual event in town to look out for is the Trachten and Folklorefest, when folk groups from all over Europe converge in the June of even-numbered years.
At the town's centre stands Karlsruhe's Schloss, now home to the Badisches Landesmuseum, which was originally designed in the Francophile Baroque style of the 1750s. The formal palace is surrounded by more relaxed gardens – including a botanical one – which are a popular hangout with students from the university campus just to the southeast. A trip up the Schloss tower (free to visitors of the Badisches Landesmuseum) best reveals Karlsruhe's unusual circular road layout: from the centre, roads radiate out in an attempt to resemble a fan – the work of local architect Friedrich Weinbrenner, though postwar rebuilding has made the design less obvious. The Marktplatz, two blocks south of the Schloss, remains another key focal point, and was similarly the vision of Friedrich Weinbrenner, whose work was deeply influenced by Roman styles, as the Neoclassical forms around the Marktplatz attest. Stretching west of here is the main commercial street Kaiserstrasse, around the western end of which lie two fine museums: the Staatliche Kunsthalle and the Stadtmuseum, a top-flight art museum and city museum respectively. The city's most impressive museum is the ZKM, 2km southwest of the centre.