Hesse (known as Hessen in English) is a state in west-central Germany. The state is home to a widely diverse range of cities and towns – from rejuvenating spa towns to hilly landscapes, gorgeous castle towns to futuristic skylines, charming medieval hamlets to vibrant university towns. Here is our top pick of cities and towns in Hesse.
The romantic town of Limburg an der Lahn grew around the 7th-century Limburg Castle. The town is known for its impeccably-maintained old town lined with half-timbered houses ranging from 13th to 17th centuries, including the oldest free-standing house in Germany. The Romanesque architecture of St. George Cathedral is also a significant sight.
Marburg is, quite literally, a fairy-tale town. The Brothers Grimm studied here from 1802-06, and were so enchanted by the town’s medieval flair, cobbled alleys, stunning architecture and lush countryside, that they weaved elements of this town in their famous fairy tales. Painter Otto Ubbelohde also drew inspiration from this town while working on his illustrations for the Grimm fairy tales. Marburg is an important stop in Germany’s Fairy Tale Route, and offers several faity-tale-themed tours to visitors.
Wiesbaden is the capital of Hesse and a renowned spa town thanks to its 14 hot springs. The towers of Marktkirche pierces the skyline of Wiesbaden. Other highlights in town include Kurhaus, the spectacular golden-domed Russian Orthodox St. Elizabeth Church, Biebrich Palace by the Rhine River, and uninterrupted views from Neroberg.
Bad Homburg is yet another spa town that attracts visitors with its healing, curative hot springs. This posh, upscale town also has several noteworthy spots for architecture enthusiasts, including Kurhaus, Saalburg Roman Fortress, Russian Orthodox Church and Church of the Redeemer.
Though mainly known for one of the busiest airports in Europe, Frankfurt has a lot more to offer travelers. The historic square of Römerberg alone makes a stop in Frankfurt worth it. Additionally, the city boasts a series of amazing galleries and museums, beer gardens and a lot of entertainment options for families.
Hanau is the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, and the southernmost point of the iconic German Fairy Tale Route. The most significant sight in this town is the superb timber-framed Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus. Hessisches Puppen & Spielzeug Museum (Doll and Toy Museum) is a very popular family attraction.
The quintessential German medieval town of Gelnhausen is known for its Imperial Palace by the River Kinzig, built in the 12th century during the rule of Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa). Another important landmark of Gelnhausen is the Hexenturm (Witches Tower), remnant of the city’s 15th century fortifications, where suspected witches used to be imprisoned before being burned at the stake or drowned.
The baroque city of Fulda developed around a Benedictine monastery established in the year 744. Fulda has a lot of important architecture, including the 18th century royal palace, former residence of the Prince-Abbots, the neoclassical Orangerie and the ornate Fulda Cathedral.
The riverside city of Kassel woos visitors with its globally-reputed art exhibition, Documenta (that takes place once every five years), the fairy-tale Löwenburg Castle, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (a UNESCO site), the 400-acre Karlsaue Park, and museums dedicated to the Brothers Grimm.
Darmstadt houses the famous Technical University and several aerospatial and engineering institutes, which earned it the title of ‘The City of Science’. Architecture enthusiasts are sure to be delighted by the sights of Darmstadt, especially the Russian Chapel, the ducal residence and the breathtaking architecture of the fairy-tale themed residential complex called Waldspirale.