The "little big city in the heart of Europe"
The historic center of the city of Kaiserslautern can be dated back to the 8th century, while prehistoric settlement in the area of what is now Kaiserslautern has been traced to at least 800 B.C. Current population is around 100,000.
Known affectionately to most Americans as ‘K-town,’ Kaiserslautern is a city of contrasts and apparent contradictions: a city of technology, a green city, a cultural city, a shopping city, a university city, a soccer city, a historical city that is surprisingly modern.
A city in a forest, tucked away in the south-west of Germany, but with optimal connections to the A6 highway (Saarbrücken-Mannheim), to France and Luxembourg as well as to the most important German Autobahns. The ICE railway connection makes Paris close, only a couple of hours away. There are airports in Frankfurt, Hahn, Luxembourg, Saarbrücken and Zweibrücken. Kaiserslautern is 65 km from Mannheim and Mainz, 70 km from Sarbrücken and only 55 km from the Alsace area of France. Luxembourg is 150 km away, Paris 450 km and Amsterdam 500 km.
The city of Kaiserslautern and its surrounding countryside are not a major tourist attraction, but nevertheless always a popular destination for city trips, short vacations or longer stays. The countryside around the city is the perfect place for relaxing walks as well as for intensive active sports. Families have a large choice of things to do, including adventure playgrounds and numerous swimming pools, the zoo and the game park and the garden show with its dinosaur exhibition.
Kaiserslautern Zoo is a popular destination in the western outskirts of the city. Within an area of approximately 17 acres, the zoo is home to roughly 60 animal species and 360 wild and domestic animals. There's a playground with a nature adventure trail for young visitors as well as a restaurant.
The Zoo-Gesellschaft Kaiserslautern takes very seriously all EU guidelines as well as global nature protection strategy, which lay down the possible future constructions of habitats of the individual animal species in the zoo.
The zoo offers professional guided tours, some specifically for children.
The zoo is open daily: April to October 08:30 - 18:30; November to March 09:00 - 17:00.
Zoo-Gesellschaft-Kaiserslautern mbH, Zum Tierpark 10, 67661 Kaiserslautern
Tel.: 06301 7169-0
Betzenberg Deerpark (Wildpark)
The 62-acre game park at the Betzenberg "Wildpark" was established in 1970 and allows visitors to observe game species that can be found in local hunting grounds within six large individual enclosures. Animals in the park include wisents, auerochses, wild pigs, deer and wild horses. Browsing areas, water areas and wallows were created in the enclosures, so that the animals can live in natural surroundings.
The park's 120-years-old tree population - mainly oaks and beeches with added conifers - provides a perfect home for the wild animals.
Betzenberg makes a valuable contribution to the conservation of the wisent, an endangered species. A humid biotope was laid out in the wisent enclosures - a perfect spot for indigenous frogs and batrachians.
Garden Exhibition (Gartenschau Kaiserslautern)
Open April - October
Numerous play and sports possibilities - from a water playground to a skating track - and one of the largest scientific dinosaur exhibitions - ensure that children too will enjoy a visit to the Garden Exhibition.
Each year from April to October, there are flower exhibitions, various theme gardens and a cultural program. Even regular visitors can always discover something new. For example a mini golf course, the "Ice Age Garden" as a supplement to the dinosaur exhibit, the "Cactus Garden," the impressive pasture church on the Kaiserberg and the exotic world of the "Aqua Garden." The garden show admission ticket is also valid for the Japanese garden which is about 200 meters from the main entrance of the garden show Kaiserslautern.
Japanese Garden (Japanischer Garten)
A place of silence and relaxation, the Japanese Garden, which was opened in April 2000, is one of the largest gardens of its kind in Europe. Carefully selected plants, ponds, waterfalls, fishes, lantern lights and stone arrangements create a Far Eastern atmosphere. The Japanese Garden is open daily from spring to fall between 10:00 and 19:00 hours.
The Imperial Palace and the Casimir Castle
... unfortunately no longer exist - neither Barbarossa's Kaiserpfalz (Imperial Palace) nor the renaissance castle which the Palatine count Frederick I, known as Barbarossa, had built directly in the vicinity. But the spectacular building hasn't fully disappeared: the ruins which were given a roof and christened the "Casimirsaal" in 1935 are well worth seeing, and the city now holds official receptions in the former living room (or did he perhaps sleep here?) of the "hunter from the electoral Palatinate." The Casimirsaal, which can be visited as part of an official city tour, is very near Kaiserslautern City Hall. Registration for the tour is at: Tourist Information Kaiserslautern, Fruchthallstrasse 14, 67655 Kaiserslautern; Tel.: 0631 365 4019; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Kaiserbrunnen - Art combines history with humor
With its 12 meter diameter and 5 meter height, the Kaiserbrunnen on the Mainzer Gate is impossible to overlook. Since 1987 the Kaiserbrunnen on the Mainzer Gate has been a center of attraction for natives, tourists, people interested in architecture, and especially children. If the Kaiserbrunnen can be understood as a three dimensional history and story book, then the main figures in it are the Emperor Friedric Barbarossa and King Rudolf von Hapsbug - both important personalities in the history of the city. The fish too, is a legendary heraldic animal that cannot be missing, as little as the "Elwedritsche", a mythical creature.
Other historical symbols are the Napoleonic hat, the donkey and the horse as former freight and transport animals, the immigrant's ship and the official seal of the city. Symbols of the modern regional economy include an Opel motor and a (Pfaff) sewing machine as well as wheels and keys as a symbol of the Technical University. There's a soccer ball signed by honorary citizen and winner of the 1954 World Cup Fritz Walter. The owl is a symbol of wisdom for Kaiserslautern's long tradition as a city of schools and now also a university city. The elephants with the city towers symbolize the strength of the former city wall. And the mouse? It's the distinctive mark of the Palatine sculptor Professor Gernot Rumpf who created the Kaiserbrunnen from bronze and sandstone.
The Collegiate Church - full of history
Even without being an art or church historian, if you look at the Kaiserslautern Collegiate Church (Stiftskirche) you will see that it is special, particularly viewed from its "picturesque side" from the Marktstrasse with the "Schönen Brunner" in front. First mentioned in 1571, the Collegiate Church is considered to be one of the most important late gothic churches in southwest Germany. A marble monument in the entry hall of the main entrance reminds us of the politically important "United Protestant Evangelical Christian Church". It shows among others Johannes Calvin, Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchton, Ulrich Zwingli, Ulrich von Hutten and Franz von Sickingen. Today the Collegiate Church is a Protestant parish church. It is open to visitors daily from 15:00 to 17:00, Tuesdays and Saturdays also from 11:00 - 13:00. The carillon chimes daily at 09:30, 11:00, 12:30, 15:00, 16:30, 18:30 and 20:00 hours. On Sundays, public holidays and during marriage ceremonies the chimes are cancelled at 09:30 and 11:00.
The work of architect August von Voit, the Fruchthalle was built between 1843 and 1846 in Renaissance style, after the Palazzo Medici in Florence, and was originally used as a market hall. In 1849, it was the seat of the revolutionary government of the Palatinate. Today concerts and large social events are held here.
City Hall (Das Rathaus)
The City Hall, which is 84 meters high, is one of the most prominent of the city’s landmarks. An extensive panoramic view of the city - as far as the Palatinate Forest - can be had from the roof terrace.
The Palatinate Gallery of Art (Die Pfalzgalerie)
The gallery on Museum Square was built between 1875 and 1880 from plans by Karl Spatz in neo-renaissance style. The reconstructed permanent exhibition halls now house an excellent collection of paintings and sculptures as well as exquisite pieces of artwork. The Gallery is open to visitors daily (except Mondays) from 10:00 - 17:00; on Tuesdays from 11:00 - 19:00.
Humbergturm - Panoramic Views
It's worth climbing up the Humbergturm, which was built in 1899/1900, for a fantastic view over the city. The nearby village of Hohenecken and the ruins of the castle are also worth a visit. Historical records first mention the castle in 1195. After being destroyed by the French in 1689, the ruin was restored in 1940. Today the castle ruin of Hohenecken is among the most impressive remains of the period of the Staufer.
The historical hostelry "Zum Spinnrädl" (The Spinning Wheel), built in 1740, is the only remaining half-timbered building in the city.
LEISURE AND SPORTS
The Palatinate Forest
The Palatine Forest, which has been designated as a biosphere reservation by UNESCO, is the largest contiguous forest in Germany, and it's just in front of the "gates" of the city of Kaiserslautern. There are not only rare animal and plant species, mixed forests and romantic hilly landscapes but also around 12,000 km of hiking trails.
Hiking or bicycling is a perfect way to get to know the most beautiful parts of the region. Kaiserslautern offers 11 different round hiking trails. Maps are available from the Kaiserslautern Tourist Information, Fruchthallstrasse 14, 67655 Kaiserslautern; Tel.: 0631 365-2317 or 2316.
K1 High Ropes Course - Fröhnerhof (Waldseilpark K1- Fröhnerhof)
In the K1 High Ropes Course Fröhnerhof you can discover for yourself the pure joy of climbing! Make your way from one platform to the next, over obstacles made from cables, swings, rope bridges and wooden bridges. Alpine safety equipment makes it possible: you, too, can balance, slide and climb high up among the tree tops. A fascinating experience for everyone - from schoolchild to sport climber. Different grades of difficulty on the course offer everyone, regardless of experience or ability, exactly the right challenge.
Volkspark (Public park)
The romantic Volkspark on the Eastern side of the city, with its green areas and large pond for ducks and swans is a place to experience nature without leaving the city. On Sunday, there are "Fruehschoppen" concerts.
Kaiserslautern has several swimming pools, including wellness baths and the romantic swimming area at the Gelterswoog. The Waschmühle outdoor pool is the largest "one-pool bath" in Europe with a length of 165 meters (180.6 yards) and an average width of 45 meters (49.2 yards)
Fritz Walter Stadium, 1. FCK
Soccer matches of the local team, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, attract 40,000 soccer fans each time.
HIKING AROUND KAISERSLAUTERN
Mysterious time signals (Rätselhafte Zeitzeichen) Trail In the Northern part of the palatinate forest, to the east of Kaiserslautern, there are an extraordinary number of prehistorical cairns. The more than 300 burial sites are probably the most important Celtic remains in Germany. Located in the middle of former Celtic settlements, close to the Donnersberg, which was one of the biggest Celtic sites more than 2,000 years ago. Besides the cairns there are other marks and symbols hidden in the woods, not all of them yet scientifically proven to be Celtic. A joint project of the communities Hochspeyer, Fischbach, Enkenbach-Alsenborn and Mehlingen has established 60 kilometers of hiking trails through this area connecting more than 50 stations of ‘Rätselhafte Zeitzeichen’ (mysterious time signals).
Humbergturm Panorama Trail The trail stretches across approximately 130 km and offers the hiker spectacular views between Bad Bergzabern, Fischbach (Dahn) and Kaiserslautern.
Trail of Fountains The ‘Brunnenwanderweg’ (trail of fountains) guides you on two different routes to nine different fountains and springs.
Deer Park - Trail of King Albrecht In 1303 King Albrecht gave the southern municipal forest to the council and the people of Kaiserslautern to thank them for their loyal service. In memory of this event the city of Kaiserslautern named a circular trail along the border of the southern municipal forest after the sovereign. This trail is marked with the king's coat of arms, a red crown on a white background.
The "Biblical Garden" in the Gartenschau
A dinosaur in the Gartenschau
The Waschmuehle swimming pool
SoccaFive® Arena Kaiserslautern
The modern indoor soccer pitches offer every soccer enthusiast - small and big - an attractive and entertaining sport, 365 days a year.
Sogoon® SoccaFive® Arena
SoccaFive® is a sport for all age groups. On 30 x 15 meter courts, which are laid out with blue synthetic turf, two teams of five players each play against each other. SoccaFive® is fast, spontaneous as well as tricky and requires good reaction times. The ball never leaves the court, because the whole field is surrounded by a one-meter board and covered by a huge net.
At the SoccaFive® Academy, an adventure-orientated soccer school for children and teenagers between 3 and 16 years, girls and boys can regularly practise their soccer skills under the guidance of Axel Roos. There are great children’s birthday parties and soccer training-camps, which are supervised and organised by professional SoccaFive® coaches.
Sogoon® SoccaFive® Arena has:
4 SoccaFive® Indoor Courts (each 30m x 15 m);
2 SoccaFive® Indoor Speed Courts (each 18m x 9m); and
1 SoccaFive® Outdoor Court (30m x 15m).
SoccaFive® organizes its own leagues for hobby soccer players, clubs and companies. Participants play for goals, points and championships. SoccaFive® can be hired for events such as Christmas parties, charities, B2B-tournaments, employee tournaments, anniversaries, birthday parties, etc. SoccaFive® has a modern sportsbar (with silver screen and flat screen for all TV sports highlights), a beer garden and a beach lounge (from spring/summer 2009) care for the culinary good.
Open every day 10.00 am - 12.00 midnight
Sogoon® SoccaFive® Arena, Am Warmfreibad 3, 67657 Kaiserslautern
Tel.: 0631 - 310 3001
BICYCLING AROUND KAISERSLAUTERN
Cycle along romantic paths and calm roads and discover a charming landscape, where nature, history and culture are combined.
Cycle way 'Lautertal' A cycle path along the Lauter river through idyllic countryside connects the Barbarossa City of Kaiserslautern and the Veldenz City of Lauterecken.
Cycle way 'Barbarossa' The 90 km long cycle path runs across the Palatinate and connects the Rhine-bikeway at the imperial city Worms with the bikeway ‘Glan-Blies’ at Glan-Münchweiler.
Guided bicycle tours: Every year the ADFC Kreisverband Kaiserslautern e. V. (bicycle association) offers different, guided bicycle tours.
The picture of the tiger at Kaiserslautern Zoo is © Zoo Kaiserslautern. All other photographs in this article are © Stadt Kaiserslautern