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City centre of Kaiserslautern
City centre of Kaiserslautern
Flag of Kaiserslautern
Coat of arms of Kaiserslautern
Location of Kaiserslautern in Rhineland-Palatinate
Bruchmühlbach-MiesauGerhardsbrunnLambsbornLangwiedenMartinshöheEnkenbach-AlsenbornFischbachFrankensteinWaldleiningenWaldleiningenHochspeyerMehlingenMehlingenNeuhemsbachSembachBannHauptstuhlKindsbachKrickenbachLandstuhlLindenMittelbrunnOberarnbachQueidersbachSchoppStelzenbergTrippstadtFrankelbachHeiligenmoschelHirschhornKatzweilerMehlbachNiederkirchenOlsbrückenOtterbachOtterbergSchallodenbachSchneckenhausenSulzbachtalHütschenhausenKottweiler-SchwandenNiedermohrRamstein-MiesenbachSteinwendenErzenhausenEulenbisKollweilerMackenbachReichenbach-SteegenRodenbachSchwedelbachWeilerbachKaiserslauternSüdwestpfalzZweibrückenSüdliche WeinstraßeLandauBad Dürkheim (district)DonnersbergkreisKusel (district)Birkenfeld (district)SaarlandRhineland-Palatinate KL (urban).svg
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Kaiserslautern is located in Germany
Kaiserslautern is located in Rhineland-Palatinate
Coordinates: 49°26′41″N 7°46′8″E / 49.44472°N 7.76889°E / 49.44472; 7.76889Coordinates: 49°26′41″N 7°46′8″E / 49.44472°N 7.76889°E / 49.44472; 7.76889
DistrictUrban district
 • Lord mayor (2014–22) Klaus Weichel[1] (SPD)
 • Total139.74 km2 (53.95 sq mi)
251 m (823 ft)
 • Total99,292
 • Density710/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes0631, 06301
Vehicle registrationKL

Kaiserslautern (German pronunciation: [ˌkaɪzɐsˈlaʊtɐn] (listen); Palatinate German: Lautre) is a city in southwest Germany, located in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate at the edge of the Palatinate Forest. The historic centre dates to the 9th century. It is 459 kilometres (285 miles) from Paris, 117 km (73 miles) from Frankfurt am Main, 666 kilometers (414 miles) from Berlin, and 159 km (99 miles) from Luxembourg.

Kaiserslautern is home to about 100,000 people. Additionally, approximately 45,000 NATO military personnel are based in the city and its surrounding district (Landkreis Kaiserslautern), contributing approximately US$1 billion annually to the local economy.[3]

History and demographics[edit]

Historical population
Population size may be affected by changes in administrative divisions. source:[4]

Prehistoric settlement in the area of what is now Kaiserslautern has been traced to at least 800 BC. Some 2,500-year-old Celtic tombs were uncovered at Miesau, a town about 29 kilometres (18 miles) west of Kaiserslautern. The recovered relics are now in the Museum for Palatinate History at Speyer.

Medieval period[edit]

Kaiserslautern received its name from the favourite hunting retreat of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa[5] who ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1155 until 1190. The small river Lauter made the old section of Kaiserslautern an island in medieval times. Ruins of Frederick's original castle, built 1152[5]–1160, can still be seen in front of the Rathaus (city hall). A second castle, Nanstein Castle, was built at Landstuhl to guard the western approach to the city. Barbarossa's influence on Kaiserslautern remains today, both in its nickname as a "Barbarossa city" and the open-mouthed pike on the city's coat of arms, reportedly his favorite dish.[citation needed]

The Stiftkirche, Kaiserslautern's oldest church, was constructed in 1250–1350. As the population of Kaiserslautern grew, King Rudolf von Habsburg chartered the town an imperial city in 1276.[6] St. Martin's Kirche (church) was built from 1300–1350 for an order of monks. Today a section of the original city wall still stands in the courtyard of the church.

By 1375, the city of Kaiserslautern was pledged to Electoral Palatinate[6] and therefore became subsequently part of the Wittelsbach inheritance.


In 1519, Franz von Sickingen became the owner of Nanstein Castle. He became a Protestant, and in 1522 Nanstein was a stronghold for local nobles favouring the Reformation. Sickingen and the local nobles began their battle against the Archbishop of Trier; but the attack was unsuccessful, and they retreated to Nanstein. Nanstein was then besieged by cannon-armed German Catholic princes. Sickingen died after the castle surrendered, and the Protestant nobility of the Electoral Palatinate were subdued by the Catholic princes.

Count of the Electoral Palatinate Johann Casimir, came to Kaiserslautern during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). Spanish occupation in 1621–1632 ended when Protestant Swedish armies liberated the area. The city would fall to invading forces again in an especially violent incident in 1635. Croatian troops within the Austrian emperor's army plundered the city, killing 3,000 of its 3,200 residents. It would not be repopulated for about another 160 years.[7]

Conflict did not end with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The Elector of the Pfalz had difficulty with many of his subjects and ordered all castles, including Nanstein, destroyed. The French repeatedly invaded and occupied the area, residing in Kaiserslautern in 1686–1697. Nevertheless, after the treaty of Utrecht it was restored to be part of the Palatinate. During the unquiet episodes in the 18th century, the Palatinate was the scene of fighting between French and German troops of different states. In 1713, the French destroyed Barbarossa's castle[5] and the city's wall towers. From 1793 until Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815, the area was under French administration.

Bavarian province[edit]

As French power declined after 1815, Kaiserslautern and the Palatinate became a Bavarian province and remained so until 1918. After World War I, French troops again occupied the Palatinate for several years.

World War II[edit]

In World War II, Allied bombing destroyed more than 85% of Kaiserslautern. The railway and several main roads were primary targets, with the heaviest attacks occurring on 7 January, 11 August, and 28 September 1944. On 20 March 1945, as the last of the 1st Army crossed the Rhine at Remagen, the U.S. 80th Division, 319th Infantry, part of the 3rd US Army, seized Kaiserslautern without resistance. The city became part of the French occupation zone after the Second World War. The establishment of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate was ordered on 30 August 1946 as the last state in the western occupation zones by ordinance No. 57 of the French military government under General Marie-Pierre Kœnig. Little reconstruction took place until the currency reform of 1948. The pace of the economy remained slow until 1952, when construction for newly established garrisons of American troops brought economic growth to the area.

Unexploded ordnance from WWII continues to be discovered in and around Kaiserslautern. In May 2012 an unexploded 250-pound (110 kg) Allied bomb was found, buried deeply and reportedly covered by water pipe, during a construction project in the downtown area of the city. On 5 September 2013, another WWII bomb was found during construction near the train station in Enkenbach-Alsenborn.

Cold War era[edit]

In the late 1940s, Kaiserslautern area became the largest U.S. garrison outside the United States (Kaiserslautern Military Community).

On 14 November 1956, a U.S. Air Force F-86 fighter jet crashed into the district office in the Burgstrasse / Maxstrasse area. In addition to the pilot, two civilians were killed, and numerous wounded.

With the incorporation of the previously independent communities of Dansenberg, Erfenbach, Erlenbach, Hohenecken, Mölschbach, Morlautern and Siegelbach on 7 June 1969, Kaiserslautern became a city. The University of Kaiserslautern was founded in 1970.

Industry flourished around the time of the first oil crisis (1973). In the 1970s, many industrial companies went through a crisis. In 1981, the spinning mill went bankrupt; Pfaff and Opel fired employees. The downsizing of the American garrison and the withdrawal of the French garrison cost more jobs.


Kaiserslautern has a moderate climate with adequate rainfall year-round. It is classified as a "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate) by the Köppen Climate Classification system.[8]

Climate data for Kaiserslautern
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.3
Average low °C (°F) −1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 65
Average precipitation days 18 15 13 15 14 14 15 14 13 14 16 17 178
Average relative humidity (%) 86 83 76 71 70 75 76 79 80 83 88 90 80
Mean monthly sunshine hours 48 77 118 169 194 207 224 211 154 102 54 38 1,596
Source 1: Deutscher Wetterdienst[9]
Source 2: Wetterkontor[10]

Culture, Tourism, and Sports[edit]

Modern-day Kaiserslautern is a centre of information and communications technology, home to a well-known university, a technical college and many international research institutes located throughout the city. Kaiserslautern is a popular destination for tourists, offering a range of attractions, and sites for tourists to visit. [11] [12]

Kaiserslautern Town Hall
Hauptbahnhof (Main Railway Station)

Town Hall Kaiserslautern is one of the tallest buildings and is located in the city centre. The bar and coffee shop on the top floor provides a panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside. [13]

The tallest building in the centre of Kaiserslautern is St. Mary's, a Roman Catholic church, whilst the highest structure in all Kaiserslautern is the television tower in the suburb of Dansenberg, southwest of the city centre.

The Japanese Garden in the botanic gardens

Kaiserslautern's large botanical gardens feature a Japanese-style garden. Another unusual feature is the Waschmühle (also known as "Wesch"), an enormous 160-metre (520 ft) public swimming pool that is the largest in Europe. There are several pedestrian-only shopping zones with numerous and varied restaurants and bars located in the city centre surrounding the old city (Altstadt). In the Altstadt you will find the "Kaiserbrunnen", a large ornamental fountain with symbols of the city's history such as a sewing machine, as produced by the Pfaff company in the city, a football representing the city's football club and various animals that children can climb.

Kaiserslautern has a diverse culinary sector, offering visitors the chance to sample dishes from across the world. [14]

Kaiserslautern is located in one of the largest contiguous forested areas in Central Europe, the Palatinate Forest, which offers numerous hiking trails and lakes to visitors.

Notable Attractions[edit]


Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern

Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern

Local theatre Pfalztheater employs more than 300 people and features plays, operas, ballets, concerts, and musicals. The first German performance of West Side Story took place there. As the arts in Germany are significantly subsidized by the government, its ticket prices are reasonably low. Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern hosts the Else-Lasker-Schüler-Preis awards for German literature.

The Kammgarn

The Kammgarn is classified as a historical site. It served as a spinning factory before being transformed into the cultural heart of Kaiserslautern. This renovation has preserved its historical character while incorporating the latest sound and lighting technologies. The Kammgarn stands among the top venues in Germany and serves as a first-call club for rising groups and performers as well as established jazz, rock, blues and pop artists in Europe. Performances have included international stars B.B. King, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Pat Metheny, Uriah Heep and Jan Garbarek.

Gartenschau (garden exhibition)

Better known as the 'Dino Park' because of its lifesize dinosaur models, the Gartenschau is open from April through October and is popular with families. Having begun as a series of botanical displays and enjoying success at the first State Garden Exhibition of Rhineland-Palatinate in Kaiserslautern in 2000, this 54-acre (220,000 m2) park has been transformed into one of the most multi-dimensional cultural centres in Germany.


The Fritz-Walter-Stadion is a football stadium that accommodates 48,500 fans. In June 2006, after renovation, the stadium was one of 12 to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It is also home to 1. FC Kaiserslautern, which won the Bundesliga four times and the wheelchair basketball team FCK Rolling Devils.

Kaiserslautern Zoo

The Kaiserslautern Zoo was founded in 1968 and is located in Kaiserslautern's Siegelbach neighbourhood. It is home to many different animals including some nearly extinct regional species.

Museums and libraries[edit]

  • Palatinate Gallery of Art/Pfalzgalerie (art gallery, mainly pictures and sculptures from the 19th and 20th century)
  • Wadgasserhof / Theodor-Zink-Museum (local history)
  • Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library)
  • Universitätsbibliothek (university library of Kaiserslautern)
  • Hochschulbibliothek (Bibliothek of Fachhochschule)
  • Pfalzbibliothek (scientific library with a main focus on the Electorate of the Palatinate issues)

Other places of interest in Kaiserslautern, and the surrounding area, are:

Education, Science, and Business[edit]

Universities in Kaiserslautern[edit]

Research centre in Kaiserslautern[edit]


Kaiserslautern has a broad-based commercial economy. Among the big companies located in the city are:



The largest church is St. Mary's (Marienkirche), a Roman Catholic church. There is also the historic Protestant Church of the Apostle (Apostelkirche). At the heart of the city is the large and old Stiftskirche (also Protestant). All three have large pipe organs and occasionally host concerts. [15]


In Kaiserslautern there is an Islamic Centre for the Muslim communities situated at the center of the city. The Ditib Fatih Camii is a Turkish mosque in Kaiserslautern. There is also a university mosque at the University of Kaiserslautern. There is a total 3 mosques in Kaiserslautern.[16]


The city was once the site of the magnificent Moorish Revival Kaiserslautern synagogue. Built in 1886, the synagogue's great dome could be seen from across the city skyline. The Nazi government forcibly demolished the synagogue on 31 August 1938. The reason provided for the synagogue’s demolition was to create a route for a Nazi parade, but the event served as an example of the Nazis’ underlying intentions including ethnic cleansing in The Holocaust, even a few months before the Kristallnacht. A memorial archway was constructed at the site in 2002. [17]

US military base[edit]

1950 photograph of barracks in Kaiserslautern

Between 1950 and 1955, Kaiserslautern developed into the largest US military community outside of the United States. For this reason Kaiserslautern is also referred to as "K-town"; a term coined by the early American military population who had difficulty pronouncing the name.[18] The Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC) is a combined community consisting of Army and Air Force components. The KMC consists of Army facilities at Kleber 32nd Air Defense HQ and Signal Core, Panzer, Dänner-Kaserne, Landstuhl, Miesau, Einsiedlerhof, Pirmasens, Sembach, Rhine Ordnance Barracks and Pulaski Barracks along with Air Force facilities located at Ramstein Air Base, Vogelweh, and Kapaun Air Station.

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Kaiserslautern is twinned with:[19][20]

Notable people[edit]

Memorial for the 1. FC Kaiserslautern players in the 1954 FIFA World Cup Final. From left to right: Werner Liebrich, Fritz Walter, Werner Kohlmeyer, Horst Eckel and Ottmar Walter.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wahl der Oberbürgermeister der kreisfreien Städte, Landeswahlleiter Rheinland-Pfalz, accessed 30 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Bevölkerungsstand 2021, Kreise, Gemeinden, Verbandsgemeinden" (in German). Statistisches Landesamt Rheinland-Pfalz. 2022.
  3. ^ "IMCOM Region Europe — Fact Sheets". U.S. Army Installation Management Command - Europe Region. Archived from the original on 28 March 2008.
  4. ^ German Wikipedia: "Population development of Gelsenkirchen"
  5. ^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Kaiserslautern" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 636.
  6. ^ a b "Kaiserslautern". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Kaiserslautern". the Guardian. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  8. ^ Climate Summary for Kaiserslautern
  9. ^ "Mittelwerte 30-jähriger Perioden". Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Klima Deutschland, Ramstein". Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  11. ^ "Things to Do in Kaiserslautern". Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  12. ^ "Kaiserslautern tourism". Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  13. ^ "mpk - Museum Palatinate Gallery". Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  14. ^ "Delectable dishes, ambiance at Kaiserslautern's Pho Viet beg to be sampled". 18 August 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Marienkirtchen". Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  16. ^ "Mosques in Kaiserslautern Germany".
  17. ^ "synagogue KL". Kaiserslautern: Medienzentrum Kaiserslautern - Aktuelles. Archived from the original on 20 November 2005.
  18. ^ "Kaiserslautern Military Community". www.globalsecurity.org.
  19. ^ "Partnerstädte". kaiserslautern.de (in German). Kaiserslautern. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Kaiserslautern". en.db-city.com. Kaiserslautern Municipality. Retrieved 29 September 2021.

External links[edit]