BASF is the largest chemical company in the world. It was established in 1865 by Friedrich Engelhorn who owned a coal-gas works in Mannheim. It took its name from Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik (Baden Aniline and Soda Factory). Egelhorn made dyes as by-products and soon extended to other chemicals. He moved his operation across the River Rhine to Ludwigshafen, where the company could occupy a huge site with direct access to river and rail transport. Its range of products is now vast, extending to plastics, cosmetics, agriculture, engineering and many other fields.
The company’s visitor centre at Ludwigshafen contains interactive and multimedia exhibits on five floors about the history of the company and the applications of chemistry in industry and manufacturing. Since 2007 it has been located in the former baths at Gate 2 of the factory. Visitors can go from there on guided tours of the 10-square-km factory, which employs 39,000 people.