10 reasons to love the German state of Hesse
Hesse in central Germany has it all — lush nature, bustling cities, a rich history and a vibrant cultural scene. Did you know the Brothers Grimm hail from Hanau in Hesse?
Frankfurt's cityscape is dominated by hundreds of skyscrapers. One that stands out from the crowd is Germany's tallest building, the 259-meter (850-foot) Commerzbank Tower (pictured). But Frankfurt has more than just an impressive skyline. It also boasts dozens of great museums and a beautifully restored old town.
Frankfurt's Städel Museum houses a vast collection of artworks dating back hundreds of years. Among them is Goethe in the Roman Campagna (pictured), a work by German painter Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein. Best of all, the Städel Museum has also fully embraced the digital age — you can admire many of its masterpieces online.
Pampered in style
Wiesbaden has been Hesse's capital since 1945. Due to its many mineral springs, the city has also been a renowned spa town since the 19th century. The Kurhaus, or spa house, is a particular favorite with locals and visitors alike — and it also houses a casino.
Exquisite timber-framed houses
There are some 400,000 timber-framed buildings in Hesse. Many date back to medieval times, and the city has done a lot to preserve them. Visitors dreaming of spending a night in one of these quaint historic houses can, for example, book a room at the Guild House in the center of the town of Fritzlar (pictured).
Grimms' folk tales
Academics Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are known the world over for their folk tales, which include "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Sleeping Beauty." Born in Hanau, the brothers later also worked on, but never completed, a definitive German dictionary.
Art for everyone
Every five years, Kassel hosts the large-scale contemporary art show, documenta. Each time, the town acquires a work of art, such as this sculpture by Giuseppe Penone. His tree, made of stone and bronze, is located on the edge of the Karlsaue — one of the most beautiful urban parks in Germany.
Bergpark Kassel Wilhelmshöhe
In 2013, Bergpark Kassel Wilhelmshöhe was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO. The landscape park features impressive fountains, dramatic waterfalls and much more. The vast ensemble, which also includes a castle and a giant statue of the demigod Hercules, was created at the beginning of the 18th century.
Hesse features an abundance of pristine nature, including the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park in northern Hesse. One of Germany's largest reservoir lakes was created here a century ago. Nature lovers should also consider visiting the tranquil Odenwald low mountain range in southern Hesse.
One of Europe's biggest church ruins
Bad Hersfeld is regarded as one of Europe's biggest and most impressive Romanesque church ruins. Each summer, the grounds host a theater festival. Architect Frei Otto designed an ingenious retractable roof to protect festivalgoers from bad weather.
Art nouveau architecture
Darmstadt's Mathildenhöhe has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2021. The gorgeous ensemble of buildings and landscapes bears testimony to the town's rich art nouveau legacy. The site's iconic 45-meter-tall (147 foot) Wedding Tower (pictured) has become a landmark.