Darmstadt - Buildings and Attractions

Buildings and Attractions

The ducal palace of Darmstadt is located in the city centre. It was the residence of the counts of Hesse-Darmstadt, later as Grand Dukes of Hesse by the grace of Napoleon. Its current look was established in the 18th century. The counts also owned a castle on the Langenberg above the city that was named Castle Frankenstein. This castle dates back to the 13th century, but it was acquired by the counts of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1662.

The Luisenplatz, the largest square of the city, forms the centre of the city and is the main public transport hub. In 1844 the Ludwigsäule (called Langer Lui, meaning Long Ludwig), a 33-meter column commemorating Ludwig I, first Grand Duke of Hesse, was placed in the middle of the square. While the column still stands, the square is today surrounded by mostly modern buildings. The other large city square is the Marktplatz (see image) near the old city hall, only several hundred meters away.

Surviving examples of the Jugendstil period include the Rosenhöhe, a landscaped English-style rose garden from the 19th century, recently renovated and replanted, the Mathildenhöhe, with the Hochzeitsturm ('Wedding tower', also commonly known as the 'Five-Finger-Tower') by Joseph Maria Olbrich and the Russian Chapel and large exhibition halls as well as many private villas built by Jugendstil architects who had settled in Darmstadt. The Russian Chapel was built as a private chapel by the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, whose wife Alexandra was born in Darmstadt.

The Waldspirale ('Forest Spiral'), a residential complex by Austrian Friedensreich Hundertwasser, was built 1998–2000. An almost surreal building, it is internationally famous for its almost absolute rejection of rectangular forms, down to every window having a different shape, the style being a trademark of Hundertwasser's work.

The Botanischer Garten der TU Darmstadt is a botanical garden and arboretum containing a fine collection of rare trees.

Darmstadt's central train station, Darmstadt Hauptbahnhof, built in 1912 is at the west end of the city. Both local and inter-city trains stop at the station. The station also serves as a stop for buses and streetcars.

Every year around early July the Heinerfest festival is held in the streets surrounding the old ducal palace. It is a traditional German festival with music acts, beer halls, amusement rides and booths selling trinkets and food. The similar 'Schloßgrabenfest', which is more live music-oriented, is held in the same location every year in May. These two festivals attract 700,000 and 400,000 visitors respectively.

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