The history of Kaiserslautern can be traced to around 830 AD. The Emperor Barbarossa built his imperial palace - the Kaiserpfalz - here in 1152. The site of the palace is near the present-day Rathaus, a 1960s skyscraper with a viewing platform at the top. The town hall incorporates the ruins of a Renaissance palace built by Johann Casimir in 1571.
Subsequent wars destroyed many of the city's historical buildings but some fine old churches remain, including the Gothic Stiftskirche and St Martinskirche.
The Theodor Zink Museum displays the history of the city and is next to Wadgasserhof - a 17th century manor house.
At the height of the Cold War, from 1950 to 1955, Kaiserslautern (K-Town) grew into the largest US military community outside the United States and around 40,000 service men and women are still based in the area. This leads to some lively night life with a good jazz and rock scene. Acts from the US come over regularly to perform in Kaiserslautern's numerous clubs.
Within the city limits is the relaxing Volkspark with Sunday concerts. The Palatine Gallery is well worth a visit and dates from 1874 featuring exhibits of painting and sculpture from the 19th century to the present day.
The main attraction of Kaiserslautern is the expanse of nature on its doorstep: the Palatinate forest is the largest continuous wooded area in the country. There are eleven clearly marked trails from Kaiserslautern. Hikers can enjoy walks in the beautiful beech woods of the Karlstal Gorge area.
The city hosts a World Garden Show from April to October. It includes a beautiful Japanese garden and Europe's largest dinosaur exhibition. The city also has a pleasant zoo and a downtown winter skating rink.
Kaiserslautern is also a modern center of information and communications technologies as well as automobile manufacturing. It has numerous well-known universities, international research institutes and technical colleges located throughout the city. The historic university town of Heidelberg with its lively nightlife is also within easy reach of Kaiserslautern.