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Located in southwest Germany, close to the borders with France and Luxembourg, Kaiserslautern is a historic city in the Rhineland-Palatinate region. Its well-preserved medieval architecture and situation at the edge of the vast Palatinate forest (Pfälzerwald) provide a striking setting for the city’s two universities and their 20,000 students.
Kaiserslautern rose to prominence in the twelfth-century as a favoured hunting retreat for Frederick Barbarossa, the King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor. Among other things, Barbarossa was renowned for his success at siege warfare, but he contributed more to Kaiserslautern as a builder, constructing the local imperial palace (known as the Kaiserpfalz or ‘Barbarossaburg’) as well as the nearby Nanstein Castle. Both have become ruined (not by Barbarossa, actually) but their remains are preserved as visitor attractions.
Other historic sites within Kaiserslautern are located within the Aldstadt (‘old city’). Here there’s more to do than just appreciate the local architecture. Many of the oldest and most attractive buildings have actually been converted into venues for the city’s bustling nightlife (including its summer music festival: Aldstadtfest).
Kaiserslautern’s more modern attractions include its towering town hall, featuring a bar with panoramic views of the city. At 84 metres, the town hall was once one of the tallest in Germany. It’s since lost that record, but the city’s 160 metre Waschmuhle swimming pool is the longest in Europe (that’s almost long enough to fit the town hall in twice, in case you aren’t taking notes).
Beyond Kaiserslautern itself lies some of Europe’s most beautiful woodland, with opportunities to go hiking and mountain-biking or visit some of the sites along the nearby Weinstraße (‘wine route’).
International postgraduates may find Kaiserslautern surprisingly easy to adjust to. The surrounding region is home to a range of NATO facilities, including the largest overseas US military base. This means that ‘K Town’ is home to plenty of expatriates and that English is widely spoken by the local population.
Student accommodation in the city takes various forms, including halls of residence run by the local universities and student unions, as well as independent lets provided by private landlords. You’re best off starting your search early but will normally be able to access support from your university as you do.
Kaiserslautern’s largest university is the University of Kaiserslautern (Technische Universität Kaiserslautern). It focusses on Science, Engineering and Computing subjects alongside Business and Social Sciences. Many of its Masters programmes are offered in English.
The local University of Applied Science Kaiserslautern is, as its name suggests, one of Germany’s universities of applied science (Fachochschule). It also offers Masters degrees in Computing, Engineering, Business and related subjects.
Kaiserslautern is also home to several prestigious research centres, including the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence. These don’t generally award their own degrees, but do collaborate with the local universities.
Kaiserslautern’s status as an important research and development hub has attracted a range of international companies, including IKEA, John Deere and General Dynamics.
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