Located in the federal state of Hessen in southwest Germany, Darmstadt is a relatively small, but surprisingly important cultural city with plenty to see and do.

The first record of the settlement can be traced to the 11th century under the name of Darmundestat, but it was only in 1330 when the site was established as a city by the then Holy Roman Emperor, Ludwig the Bavarian. Ruled by the landgraves of the Holy Roman Empire until the Grand Dukes of Hesse took over in 1806, it was only in the 19th century that the city expanded into a significant regional centre. The population increase was followed by cultural prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as Darmstadt became the centre of the German Jugendstil movement, the country’s Art Nouveau equivalent, and established its name internationally.

Despite devastating bombing during World War II, Darmstadt’s architectural beauty is still intact today while also cultivating an image as a city of science, being the home of many research institutes and companies. As such, the city is a diverse and stimulating place to visit for any tourist.


The Luisenplatz is the natural orientation point for visitors travelling around Darmstadt, being the largest square in the city. Although surrounded by modern buildings, The Langer Ludwig Statue, built in honour of Grand Duke Ludwig I in 1844, is a prominent reminder of the city’s past. Resting on a tall sandstone column, the statue is open for the public to climb on the first Saturday of every month and provides a fabulous panoramic of the city.

Numerous reminders of the city’s artistic pedigree, mainly Jugendstil architecture, remain today. Although these are visible throughout Darmstadt, the Mathildenhoehe (the ‘Artist’s Colony’) is an absolute must-see. Founded in 1899 by Grand Duke Ludwig and designed by several chosen artists including the great Josef Olbrich, regular exhibitions were held to showcase some truly stunning works until the city’s flirtation with Jugendstil ended in 1914. One of the finest examples is the Russian Chapel within the Colony built for Nicholas II, whose wife Alexandra was a Darmstadt native.

Located in Langenberg at an elevation of some 370 metres, the Frankenstein Castle is a major attraction for visitors. With a history stretching back to the mid-10th century under the possession of the noble Frankenstein family, persistent construction and expansion between the 13th and 16th centuries did not destroy its beauty. Indeed, such was its repute that a brief visit by a certain Mary Shelley in 1816 proved propitious when writing her next novel. Today, the city is open for viewing and hosts a Halloween horror show in October.

The Residential Palace at the end of the Rheinstrasse dates back to the 13th century itself and was once a defensive structure with a moat. Converted into the residence of the counts of Hesse-Darmstadt and the Grand Dukes, it now houses a Museum containing the history of the region and life in the palace itself.

One of the best examples of modern architecture in Germany is the Hundertwasser Building. Constructed between 1998 and 2000 by the famous Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, its irregular forms and incredible variety in colours and materials make it of especial interest.

Festivals are held in the city throughout the year, including the Schlossgraberfest, an annual musical festival typically in May.


The Luisencenter mall hosts an array of department stores and smaller shops. For high street shopping, the Wilhelminenstrasse and Elisabethenstrasse are great areas.

The local market can still be found in the 14th century market square against the lovely backdrop of the Old Town Hall and the mid-16th century fountain.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Darmstadt has plenty of restaurants and cafés specialising in either regional or international cuisine. For gourmet food though, the best place is the Hofgut Dippelshof, located in a fabulous Art Nouveau-style villa.

The city enjoys a decent nightlife thanks to the university population and many nightclubs can be found like Stella on the Rheinstrasse or the Schlosskeller, actually run by students in the castle dungeons.

Breweries are naturally extremely popular, the largest being the Rummel Brauerei, which brews the local Darmstädter bier. Each brewery also stocks Hesse’s national drink, apple cider.

Tourist Information

Darmstadt Tourist OfficeIm Carree 4A64283DarmstadtTel: +49 (0)61 51 951 500info@proregio-darmstadt.de


Darmstadt is served by Frankfurt International Airport, some 20 or so minutes from the city itself. Although taxis are available, a quicker and cheaper shuttle bus service departs from the airport every 30 to 60 minutes.

Being the largest airport in Germany, international and domestic connecting flights are available daily.

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