Karlsruhe and Beyond

Earlier this week, courtesy of a Salvation Army charity shop, I picked up (and, indeed, purchased) a book about one of Nottingham’s twin cities, Karlsuhe, which is in south-west Germany.

The book – Karlsruhe: Zwischen Schwarzwald und Rhein (Karlsruhe: Between the Black Forest and the Rhine) – was published in 1984 and is one of those handsome, yet often rather cheesy photobooks that endeavour to present a city in its best light, while sweeping most of its less desirable elements under the carpet.

Full marks, then, to the publisher, for including several shots of the local oil refinery. It’s highly unlikely that an equivalent Nottingham volume would have featured its diminutive Nottingham ‘twin’.

The text in the book is in three languages, including an endearingly bonkers English translation, of which the following extract is just one example:

The joy of living, with which the founder of the city, Karl Wilhelm, a baroque vigorous man, went arm in arm, stood at Karlsruhe’s cradle like a good fairy, with a feeling of affection disposed towards the new community.

Karlsruhe was twinned with Nottingham in 1969, yet before purchasing the book, then having a browse on the internet for the purposes of this post, my knowledge of the place would have fitted on the back of a postage stamp, with a postage stamp-sized space to spare. Other than the awareness that there is an interesting building on Queens Bridge Road called Karlsruhe House and that we have a tram bridge called The Karlsruhe Friendship Bridge, my brain seems to have been largely untroubled by any Karlsruhe-related thoughts over the course of my lifetime.

It would be interesting to visit Karlsruhe and to compare and contrast the two cities and their topographies, infrastructures, histories and significant individuals: the Rhine vs the Trent; Karlsruhe Palace vs Nottingham Castle; The ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art vs Nottingham Contemporary; Friedrich Weinbrenner vs T C Howitt; Karl Freiherr von Drais vs Richard Morris Woodhead; Karlsruher SC vs Nottingham Forest; the respective marketplaces, trams, natural history museums and universities.

Or, what the heck – perhaps even a Grand Tour of all of Nottingham’s twin cities.

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