The History of “Ruhender Karl” (resting Karl)
Or: Why Karlsruhe is called the “fan-shaped city”?
On a dreary autumn day 300 years ago, Karl Wilhelm III, the proud Margrave of Baden-Durlach, rode out on a hunt to escape what had become a weary everyday life. Dark clouds rolled both overhead and through his mind. You see, Karl lived in a draughty old house inherited from his father, made all the more colder by a tense relationship with his wife and the annoyances that come with a government job. After a good bit of hunting and a hearty lunch, Karl eventually nodded off in a grove.
“Karl ruhte” - Karl rested. This nap proved to be a turning point in Karl’s life. He dreamed of a new palace, sunlit and cheery, with magnificent avenues radiating from it like sunbeams. Upon waking, Karl immediately set to making his dream a reality. Streets were built leading away from the palace, lending the city the name “fan-shaped city”.
A true cosmopolitan, Karl’s motto “think global, act local” inspired him to offer tax benefits and religious freedom to all citizens of Karlsruhe, thus enticing people from across Europe to visit the city and take part in his dream. Even before its completion in 1715, Karlsruhe had become an international and cultural hot spot. Karl was able to enjoy his new home, at this point once again a bachelor; one could truly say that Karl finally found his “Ruhe”.