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Hesse Travel Guide

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Frankfurt (© sborisov -
Frankfurt am Main at sunset.


Hesse (Hessen in German) is the richest German non-city state in terms of GDP per capita. Its largest city is Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany's financial capital. The political capital of Hesse, though, is Wiesbaden. Darmstadt and Kassel played that role until 1945, when the modern state of Hesse (aka Greater Hesse) was formed out of the Prussian provinces of Hesse-Darmstadt and Hesse-Nassau.

The cultural region of Hesse is larger than the state and includes the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring state of Rhineland-Palatinate, from which it is separated by the Rhine River. The oldest and second largest Hessian city, Mainz, is in Rhenish Hesse.

Hesse has a surface area of 21,100 km² (8,100 sq mi), roughly like Israel or the U.S. state of New Jersey. It has a population of 6,077,000 inhabitants, slightly more than Denmark, and the equivalent of the U.S. state of Missouri.

Before the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, what is now Hesse belonged to a multitude of small independent states, such as the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt, the Landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg, the Landgraviate of Hesse-Rotenburg, the Duchy of Nassau, the Principality of Waldeck, the County of Isenberg, the Prince-Bishopric of Fulda, the Free Imperial City of Wetzlar, or the Free Imperial City of Frankfurt.

Famous people from Hesse include (chronologically): the writer and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the academics and authors Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, the confectioner Henri Nestlé, the founder of the Reuters news agency Paul Reuter, the automobile entrepreneur Adam Opel, the aircraft manufacturer Willy Messerschmitt, and the F1 driver Sebastian Vettel.


Attractions are listed geographically, from west to east (left to right) and north to south (top to bottom).


Braunfels Castle
Braunfels Castle (© -
outstanding Braunfels Castle was first erected in 1246 as a defensive fortress against the Counts of Nassau. Expanded between the 15th and 17th centuries, the castle suffered a lot during Thirty Years' War, changing hands seven times ...Read more

Limburg an der Lahn
Limburg an der Lahn (� ollo -
must-see Limburg an der Lahn is one of the most famous timber-framed towns in Germany. The characteristic white-and-red buildings date from between the 13th and 18th century and include the oldest free-standing house in Germany ...Read more
Wiesbaden (© fotografci -
very good Wiesbaden is the capital of Hesse and one of the oldest spa towns in Europe. It once boasted 27 hot springs, 15 of which are still in operation. Goethe, Dostoyevsky, Wagner, and Brahms all came to bathe here. Occupied continuously since ...Read more
Lorsch Abbey
Lorsch Abbey (© irish -
very good The former Imperial Abbey of Lorsch, 10 km east of Worms, was one of the most renowned monasteries of the Carolingian Empire. Though ruined today, the abbey's remains are among the most important pre-Romanesque buildings in ...Read more
Eberbach Abbey
Eberbach Abbey
very good Eberbach Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery founded in 1136 by Bernard of Clairvaux. Its Romanesque and early Gothic architecture make of it one of the most significant historical sites in Hesse. The interior scenes of the 1985-6 film ...Read more


Marburg Castle (© Thomas Becker -
outstanding Marburg is a delightful, unspoilt university town squeezed between the picturesque Lahn River and its castle hill. Founded by the Landgrave of Hesse in 1527, the Philipp University is the world's oldest Protestant university...Read more
Bad Homburg
Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad, Bad Homburg (© Andrew Chambers -
very good Bad Homburg vor der Höhe is a spa town renowned for its medically used mineral waters. First popular with the Russian aristocracy in the mid 19th century, Kaiser Wilhelm II made it an Imperial summer residence in 1888, where his...Read more

Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt am Main (© Raimundas -
very good Frankfurt am Main is the financial capital of Germany, the largest financial centre in continental Europe, as well as the seat of the European Central Bank and Bundesbank. The Frankfurt Fair is the third largest trade fair in the world, hosting ...Read more
German Goldsmith House, Hanau (© Andrew Chambers -
very good Hanau is the southern starting point of the Märchenstraße (German Fairy Tale Road), as well as the birthplace of the writers Jakob and Wilhem Grimm. The German Goldsmith House (sometimes mistaken for the old town...Read more
Waldspirale, Darmstadt (© Antonio DeCristofaro -
very good Darmstadt is the historical capital of the County of Hessen-Darmstadt, then the Grand Duchy of Hesse from 1806. It is one of few German cities which does not lie close to a river, lake or coast. Darmstadt was dubbed "city of science" ...Read more

Other attractions

very good Friedberg in der Wetterau
very good Wetzlar


Löwenburg Castle, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel (© vom -
outstanding Kassel (spelt Cassel until 1928) was named after a castle of the Chatti, an ancient Germanic tribe from the region of Hesse. It is famous for its association with the Brothers Grimm. Once a beautiful city, Kassel was flattened ...Read more
Homberg an der Efze
Homberg an der Efze (photo by Dr. Klaus Lambrecht - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
very good Homberg an der Efze is a small castle town with plenty of traditional timber-framed houses dating from the 15th to the 18th centuries. In 1526, Philip the Magnanimous converted the Landgraviate of Hesse to Protestantism while attending... Read more
Alsfeld (© anweber -
very good Halfway between Marburg and Fulda, Alsfeld is a charming small town with a 16th-century medieval-style town hall and numerous half-timbered buildings. The oldest timber-framed house dates from 1350, making it one of the oldest ...Read more

Eisenbach Castle, Lauterbach (photo by Sven Teschke - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license)
very good Lauterbach is a small town at the foot of the Vogelsberg Mountains. The main attraction isSchloss Eisenbach, a 15th-century castle located 4 km south of the centre. It has belonged to the same family for nearly 600 years...Read more
Fulda Cathedral (© vom -
outstanding Fulda is a beautiful baroque town that grew around a Benedictine monastery of Fulda, founded in 774 as an outpost for Charlemagne's conquest and Christianisation of Saxony. The influential abbey evolved into a principality of...Read more

Other attractions

very good Kellerwald-Edersee National Park

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