Karlsruhe ( ; formerly Carlsruhe) is a city in the state of Baden-Württemberg, in southwest Germany, near the Franco-German border. Karlsruhe was founded in 1715 as Karlsruhe Palace, when Germany was a series of principalities and city-states. The town surrounding the Palace became the seat of two of the highest courts in Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht) whose decisions have the force of a law in many cases, and the Federal Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof), the highest court of appeals in matters of civil law and criminal law. It therefore considers itself the home of justice in Germany, a role taken over from Leipzig after 1945.
Due to similarities to the United States capital city, it has been speculated that Karlsruhe was a model city for the cityscape of Washington, D.C. Both cities have a centre—in Karlsruhe the palace and in D.C. the Capitol Building—from which the streets radiate outward. Pierre Charles L'Enfant, Washington's city planner, had been given the plans of Karlsruhe (among numerous other European cities) as an inspiration.