Torfaen Council is twinned with Karlsruhe in Germany. This is a joint twinning arrangement with Monmouthshire County Council which started in October 1998. Twinning towns is a wonderful way of bonding communities in long-term friendships. It is important that people from different communities and backgrounds across Europe reach out to one another and learn more about other cultures and ways of living.
Karlsruhe is located in Germany's Rhine valley in close proximity to the Black Forest and French border. It is a modern, high-tech and ‘green’ city pre-eminent in technological industries, business, law and academic establishments.
Legend has it that when Margrave Karl Wilhelm lay under a tree during a hunting trip, it was a dream that inspired him to build a palace. An 18th century palace, or 'Schloss', remains, together with the unique fan-shaped design of roads leading to it. The famous architect, Weinbrenner, continued and perfected the city planning. Many of his buildings remain as highlights of classicism in Karlsruhe today, including the sandstone pyramid, built in 1823, which houses the remains of Karl Wilhelm and has become a symbol for the city. Large scale gardens, parks and forests attract visitors and locals alike.
Among Karlsruhe's educational establishments is Germany's oldest engineering university, the 'Fridericiana', founded in 1825. It has become Germany's leading faculty of Information Technology. The Academy of Art gained similar recognition through names such as Feuerbach, Thoma and Hofer. With its favourable position on the Rhine, industry developed quickly, with the electrical and petroleum industries playing a major part, together with pharmaceuticals, food processing and textiles. More recently, Karlsruhe has been awarded the title by the European Commission of one of Europe's most 'Innovative Regions of Excellence' and houses the prestigious Karlsruhe Research Centre. The city has developed as a constitutional metropolis since it was awarded the title 'Seat of Law' with the establishment of the Federal Court of Justice in 1950. It is also an established trade fair centre and exhibition location, boasting an impressive Congress and Exhibition Centre.
Blaenavon Town Twinning
Blaenavon has enjoyed a very successful twinning link with Coutras, in Aquitane since 1985. Annual exchanges take place with this extremely pleasant town of some 7,000 inhabitants situated 50kms north of Bordeaux.
Coutras is very close to the world famous wine regions of St. Emillion, Pomerol, Bergerac and, of course Bordeaux itself. The Atlantic coast is an easy drive away where intrepid hikers can climb the world's largest sand dune at Arcachon.
The main occupations of the region are a mixture of agriculture - wheat, corn, vineyards and light industries - Coutras produced the glass for the Stade de France in Paris.
As in Blaenavon, sport plays a prominent part in French life and this has led to various exchanges involving sporting sides. Coutras, however, has yet to produce a male voice choir, giving us a distinct advantage with opportunities to entertain regularly in their beautiful churches.
The Twinning Association meets monthly in the Workman's Hall and new members are always welcome. Fund raising events are held throughout the year and include dances, fashion shows, horse racing evenings etc
Pontypool Town Twinning
Pontypool is twinned with three towns in Europe: Longjumeau in France since 1994, Bretten in Germany since 1994 and Condeixa in Portugal since 1999. Uniquely each of these towns is twinned with each other and annual conferences are held to discuss issues pertinent to all 4 towns.
Longjumeau is a cosmopolitan town situated south of Paris within its commuter belt. It is the birth place of the famous composer Adolphe Adam, who composed ballet 'Giselle'. In the 19th centaury the town was a major stopping point for the post being brought by stage coach to and from Paris, there are many reminders of this in the town today. There is a mix of agriculture and industry in the area and the links to the capital of France are quite evident.
Bretten nestles at the foothills of the black forest in Southern Germany not far from Stuttgart and Heidelberg in the region known as Karlsruhe. It is an ancient town from where the great reformer Philip Melanchthon hailed. Each year at the beginning of July a medieval festival "Peter and Paul Fest" takes place in the town when everyone is transformed back 500 years. For the entire weekend every nook and cranny in the town offers some 15th centaury hospitality. Townsfolk dress in costume and parades of militia are watched by hundreds of people.
Condeixa lies mid way between Lisbon and Opoto and dates back to Roman times. The ancient ruins of Conimbriga are only a few miles away and the nearby city of Coimbra has one of the oldest universities of Europe. This region of Portugal is famous for its ceramics and its lush vineyards.
Cwmbran Town Twinning
Cwmbran is twinned with Bruchsal in Germany. The twinning 'Partnership' was signed in October 1979 and the two towns celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Twinning Partnership in 2004. An excellent rapport has been built up over the years and long-held friendships have been established at individual, organisational and other levels. Delegations visit each other from time to time and the Friends of Bruchsal Society [and the Friends of Cwmbran, in Bruchsal] forge and encourage links at sporting, cultural and social levels. The Community Councils of Cwmbran and Croesyceiliog & Llanyrafon work together at a Civic level.
Bruchsal is an interesting mix of old and new. Having been heavily bombed during the Second World War its town centre is fairly modern but it has a thousand year history. The town is, nowadays, an industrial and trade centre, situated on the western edge of the gentle Kraichgau hills of the Baden Wurttemburg region, close to the well-known cities of Heidelberg, Karlsruhe and Mannheim, north of the famous Black Forest. Despite its modern image, Bruchsal is known as the European ‘capital of asparagus’ and is the main grower of this vegetable in Germany.
Despite the bombing the town received Bruchsal still possesses a magnificent baroque palace and gardens (painstakingly rebuilt after the War) which, nowadays, are popular venues and backdrops for musical and cultural events and exhibitions. The Palace contains a municipal museum and one of the world’s largest and varied collections of mechanical musical instruments. A number of architecturally interesting Churches are also to be found within walking distance. St Peter’s Church, for instance, is a baroque ‘gem’ and contains some masterpieces of the Rococo.
Bruchsal’s town centre and pedestrian precincts are vibrant and the Market Square hosts twice-weekly farmers markets. The town centre’s Bergenzentrum is a thoroughly modern and impressive building that comprises a theatre, conference venue and public areas, library, tourist information centre and shops, as well as being a great place to eat and to socialise. Bruchsal also contains a range of modern sports and swimming facilities, a gliding and parachuting club and wonderful walking country.
The surrounding villages each have some considerable character and the small town of Buchenau, for instance, has a street name ‘Pontnewyddstrasse,’ named because of the strong links and friendships that have developed between the Pontnewydd Male Choir and the Buchenau Male Choir. Other villages, such as Untergrombach, contain some wonderful examples of early half-timbered houses.
Bruchsal is always keen to celebrate, particularly for long-held traditions. Throughout the year various ‘fests’ are held which attract many visitors. Bruchsal is also twinned with a number of other European towns, including Sainte-Menehould and Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines in France and Volterra in Italy.
An hour’s drive will take visitors to places such as the rivers Rhine and Neckar, Strasbourg, the Black Forest, Speyer and some of the finest wine regions in Germany.
Last Modified: 05/11/2015
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