Hesse, a west-central state in Germany, is known for its vibrant cities and breathtaking architecture. From a colorful Art Nouveau building to a creepy castle, gleaming golden domes to a fortress that inspired fairy tales, soaring churches to ancient timbered buildings, we’ve rounded up the most stunning architecture in the state.
The Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt is undoubtedly among the most stunning architectural specimens of the Art Nouveau period—it’s an ensemble of a wedding tower, a Russian chapel, a lily basin, and an art exhibition building. Its eye-catching colors, gleaming golden domes and the fact that it’s the tallest structure in the city ensure that it is spotted from miles away. The building offers guided tours, including ones designed especially for children. As a part of the tour, you can also visit the ancient reservoirs that are still filled with water.
Russisch-Orthodoxe Kirche (or St. Elizabeth’s Church) atop the Neroberg Hill in Wiesbaden is truly a stunner. You don’t need to be an architecture expert in order to be mesmerized by its five golden, onion-shaped domes, especially when they dazzle in the sun. Next to this gorgeous sandstone church, you’ll find the biggest Russian cemetery outside Russia.
The soaring spires of Marktkirche (Market Church) punctuate the Wiesbaden sky, adding immense character to the city skyline. Its captivating brick, neo-Gothic architecture dates back to the mid-19th century. The stunning interior of this church truly befits its facade and visitors are invariably awed by its “starry sky” ceiling, the Walcker Organ, and the carillon consisting of 49 bronze bells.
As a sharp deviation from the romantic, fairy-tale castles Germany is known for, Frankenstein Castle attracts visitors with its intriguing legends and air of mystery. When you take a look at the castle ruins that are half-hidden in an obscure forested valley, you will have no trouble believing that this castle was the inspiration behind the cult novel Frankenstein. Locals will also be happy to amaze you with their stories about Johann Conrad Dippel, an alchemist born in 1673 in this castle who was known to practice anatomy and experimented on exhumed dead bodies, as well as their stories about a dragon who lived in the castle grounds.
Löwenburg Castle has been deliberately designed to resemble a semi-ruined medieval Baroque castle, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is magnificent. On a guided tour through the castle, visitors get to walk the royal rooms, see historic weaponry and a Neo-Gothic chapel. The castle is perched on the UNESCO-listed Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, one of the most stunning parks in Germany that boasts spectacular waterworks and greenery.
The Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, Frankfurt (or simply Frankfurter Dom) is the main city church dating back to the 14th century. While its lofty tower is an impressive sight, the cathedral’s interior delights travelers with its elegant decor and stone-vaulted atrium. The cathedral museum preserves many priceless treasures, and from April to October, visitors are welcome to climb the 324 steps up to the tower and enjoy spectacular views across the city.
Römer is an ensemble of nine buildings spanning 107,640 square feet (110,000 square meters) across six courtyards. This three-peaked timber-framed structure exhibits medieval as well as modern elements, adding to the unique setting. It has housed the Frankfurt City Hall (Rathaus) for over six centuries and is also used for events and weddings. Its main entrance opens to Frankfurt‘s main square, Römerberg Plaza.
Marburger Schloss (also known as Landgrafenschloss Marburg), crowns the Schlossberg hill and overlooks the quaint town of Marburg, which is believed to have inspired many Brothers Grimm fairy tales. It was originally built as a fort in the 11th century, and still preserves much of its original fortifications. Visitors are welcome to check out the University Museum for Cultural History, which is housed in the castle. This beautiful castle adds to the palpable fairy-tale romance of the town of Marburg.