Originally a collection of small settlements on the banks of the Rhine, Ludwigshafen owes its growth to the rise of the chemicals industry and did not really play a part in history until the 19th century. Today, art and culture have given the city a new identity. Like all towns on the Rhine, Ludwigshafen is a compelling destination, with an urban face and green lungs, a fascinating history and its own particular charm.
Ludwigshafen has a mixed past, having belonged to Bavaria, Baden and the Palatinate in its time. A landing stage for ships was built here in 1811. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Palatinate to the west of the Rhine was given to Bavaria, and the river docks were renamed Ludwigshafen in honour of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. In 1859, Ludwigshafen became a town, shortly before BASF located there in 1865. The company had just been founded as the Baden Aniline and Soda Factory but could not find any premises in Mannheim (Baden). So it moved to Ludwigshafen, which in the meantime was located in the Palatinate again. Today, Ludwigshafen is known for far more than its chemicals industry and has become an easy-going, friendly city with a positive attitude to life and a passion for the arts. It also has a vibrant culinary scene, which is centred around the oldest district of Ludwigshafen, Hemshof. Following a shopping spree in the Rhein-Galerie mall with its 130 or so shops and restaurants or a trip to the Walzmühle shopping and cinema complex, a haven of tranquillity can be found under the tall plane trees on centrally located Ludwigsplatz square.
Works of art dotted around the city, including the famous 'Endlose Treppe' (endless steps) by Swiss artist Max Bill, have turned Ludwigshafen into one big exhibition space for modern art. The Wilhelm Hack Museum, which features the famous ceramic mosaic wall by Miró and well in excess of 9,000 other artworks, is internationally acclaimed. Founded with a donation from the businessman Wilhelm Hack, it has now become the most important museum for art of the 20th and 21st centuries in Rhineland-Palatinate. The Ernst Bloch Centre, situated next to the Walzmühle, is named after one of the town's most famous sons and houses an extensive library and the academic legacy of this great philosopher. In one room, a glass floor enables you to look down on a reconstruction of Bloch's study below. More of a place to relax than to work, Ebert Park is an oasis of green in the city centre. A fragrant rose garden, a sensory garden and a fountain garden with various water features combine to form a harmonious ensemble – like the city itself, if you take a closer look. Ludwigshafen invites you to do just that.
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