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Germersheim - University Town on the Rhine
Situated close to the cathedral town of Speyer, Karlsruhe and the Rhine- Neckar economic triangle as well as the French border, Germersheim in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz is a town of manageable proportions.
Approximately 1,800 years ago, the Romans built the garrison town of Vicus Julius on the Rhine River on the site of today’s town. Germersheim was first mentioned in official documents in the year 1090, and the town was granted its royal charter in 1276 by the German king Rudolf I of Habsburg. In the following centuries, it was an important administrative center. The town went through a dramatic architectural transformation in the 19th century: between 1834 and 1861 Germersheim was fortified, making it the last new fortified town in Germany. The massive and impressive fortifications still dominate the town today. A recently completed walkway through the fortifications now a national monument allows visitors to admire the beauties of the vast complex, much of which was designed by leading Bavarian architects of the day.
Shortly after the end of the second world war, the FASK’s forerunner the School of Applied Lnguistics (ADI)– was founded in one of the former fortress buildings. The move was a stroke of good fortune for Germersheim – today students are a key element in the life of the town, and it has derived many cultural benefits from its partnership with the university.
Today, Germersheim is the seat of the district administration and has a population of 22,000. It also has a strong and successful industrial and economic base. Germersheim companies do business throughout the world. More than 10,000 people are employed in manufacturing, the trades and services as well as in numerous municipal offices. The town’s largest employers include DaimlerChrysler’s Global Logistics Center, furniture manufacturer Nolte Möbel and the German mail-order division of the Yves Rocher company. Germersheim has several traffic-calmed zones and an extensive network of cycle paths. It has an attractive and appealing downtown area thanks to the successful renovation of the old city center.
Germersheim offers a wide variety of leisure opportunities–the extensive parkland of the imposing fortress complex, the natural beauty of the Rhine’s marshy meadows and the woods surrounding the town, as well as the lakes (once gravel pits) just outside of town. And Germersheim is also a paradise for fans of water sports and fishing; the river, the harbor and the surrounding wetlands provide an extensive recreational area in a unique and unspoiled setting.
With its large student population, Germersheim has a varied restaurant scene and numerous student pubs. There is just as much variety when it comes to culture, too. There are two museums in town: the Road and Transportation Museum, and a museum dedicated to the city’s history as a major fortified settlement. There is also a sculpture park, and numerous art works are situated in and around the town. There is a brand new library, a lively theater and concert scene, an adult education organization, a local music school, as well as a culture and youth center and an active local art society. Numerous events and activities are organized by the university, local church groups, schools and clubs.
The environs of Germersheim are characterized by the natural beauty of the Rhine Valley and the mild climate of the fertile Southern Palatinate region. Thanks to the area’s extensive fruit- and wine-growing, this part of the country has been called the „Garden of Germany“. Today, tourism and gastronomy represent a major source of income for the picturesque vintners’ villages dotted along the Deutsche Weinstraße (German wine road), which borders the Pfälzerwald (Palatine forest).