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Last updated : Nov 2009
Hessen
South Germany - Germany TravelPuppy
Hessen’s capital is the city of Wiesbaden. The northern part of the state, Kurhesse-Waldeck, boasts lakes, forests and state-recognised health resorts. Hessen has many rural villages with half-timbered houses and still-observed ancient customs.

The German Fairy Tale Road leads through some of these towns. Schwalmstadt, home of Little Red Riding Hood, is a town where people still wear traditional costumes to church on Sunday and at folk festivals. In the Reinhardswald, Sababurg and now a castle-hotel, inspired the Brothers Grimm to write Sleeping Beauty.

The romantic scenery of the Lahn, a tributary of the Rhine, draws many visitors to Nassau, Wetzlar, Limburg and the Schaumburg Castle. Also on this river is the historic university town of Marburg.

In the far south of Hessen is the rolling hill country of the Odenwald, a region rich in legend and folklore and excellent for hiking. The Bergstrasse traverses the western slopes. The region has a very mild climate, permitting cultivation of a wide range of flowers and fruit. Two routes are available for exploring the Odenwald, the Nibelungenstrasse and the Siegfriedstrasse.

Erbach, which has a Baroque palace and a medieval watchtower, Michelstadt with its half-timbered Town Hall and basilica, the resort of Lindenfels, and the spa town of Bad König, are prime attractions.

Northwest of Frankfurt and north of Wiesbaden is the wooded hill country of the Taunus, a ski centre in the winter. Resorts here include the old town of Oberursel, the spa town of Bad Homburg and, nearby, the preserved Roman fort of Saalburg, situated on the line marking the frontier of the Roman Empire.

Northeast of Frankfurt is the Baroque town of Fulda, gateway to the Rhön region. Some of the buildings here date back to the 9th century. Further north is Kassel, home of the Grimm Brothers Museum and the Wilhelmshöhe Palace with its magnificent grounds.

Darmstadt

Darmstadt is located a few miles east of the Rhine. Attractions include the Palace (16th and 17th centuries), Prince George Palace (18th century) with porcelain collection, Hesse Regional Museum, an artists’ colony on Mathildenhöhe,‘Wedding Tower’ and Russian Chapel, National Theatre on the Marienplatz, and Kranichstein Hunting Lodge with hunting museum and hotel.

Frankfurt-am-Main

The city of Frankfurt-am-Main is Germany’s major financial and commercial centre. Its soaring skyline has led to its nickname of ‘Mainhattan’. Much of the city suffered destruction in 1944, but extensive restoration has preserved many Old Town buildings, including the Römer, town hall and coronation place of German emperors since 1562. Some ancient buildings survived the war, including part of the cathedral and the 13th-century chapel that once adjoined Frederick Barbarossa’s Palace.

In the City Museum there is a perfect scale model of the old town and also the astonishing city silver. The stark Paulus Church was home to the first German parliament in 1848.

Other attractions in the city include the Zoo, the birthplace of Goethe, the Opera House, the suburbs of Sachsenhausen and Hoechst, both formerly towns in their own right, and the Messe, the exhibition halls complex. The Städel Art Institute houses a large collection of European paintings. The Senckenberg Natural History Museum, Jewish Museum and the Museum of Post and Communication offer more specialised diversion.

Wiesbaden

Wiesbaden is the capital of the state of Hesse. It is an international spa and congress centre in the Taunus and on the Rhine, the spas specialise in the treatment of rheumatism.

Attractions include the Kurhaus and casino, the Wilhelmstrasse, with elegant shops and cafes, Hesse State Theatre, the Greek Chapel, international riding and jumping championships in the grounds of Biebrich Palace at Whitsun; boat trips on the Rhine, and woodland walks.