"Darmstadt: a City of Surprises" Top 5 Page for this destination Darmstadt by antistar

Darmstadt Travel Guide: 204 reviews and 668 photos

I hadn't intended to come to Darmstadt - I was planning to day trip to Koblenz. However, on the morning that I went to the station in Mainz the only trains running to that city were the sluggishly slow Regional Bahns, meaning that I'd spend three hours of my day on trains, and only about three hours in the city itself. Mildly annoyed with my lack of foresight I checked the available trains from Mainz station, and spotted a familiar name: Darmstadt. It was only half an hour away, so I grabbed a ticket from the machine and jumped on the next available train.

On exiting Darmstadt station I wasn't overwhelmed. The place looked like a typical German mix of grim industry and drab suburbia. Walking into town along the traffic clogged streets didn't improve my view much at all. However as I entered the city centre, and caught glimpses of Darmstadt's historic past, things started to look up. The traffic fumes gave way to the incredibly large Luisenplatz, and this opened up a view of the splendid Residenzschloss, and this building and those around it looked completely out of place with what I had seen in the city's outskirts.

What really turned me around, though, and made Darmstadt an amazing experience for me was the former Artist colony on the Mathildenhöhe. After being underwhelmed by the views from the Wedding Tower (Hochzeitsturm) I was checking my watch to see if I could make it back to the station in time for the next train. Then just as I was walking away from the Hochzeitsturm and the Russian Chapel I noticed a sign for the artist colony. I decided to make a quick tour of these turn of the century buildings, and before long I was lost in my own world, amazed at the architecture and pure peace of this idyll. Before I knew it several hours had disappeared and I was nearly late for my train home from Mainz. If I had the money I'd buy one of these unique houses and be happy forever.

The city of Darmstadt is probably not on everyone's tourist destinations. It certainly wasn't on mine even though it should have been. The city was once the capital of Hessen, and has a glorious history, but most of this was destroyed by Allied bombers in September 1944, when they rained down 700 high-explosive bombs and 300,000 incendiary devices leaving 12,000 dead and devastating the city. Knowing that, and seeing what the city has managed to save and restore, you can forgive it a little of its post-war drabness. If I'd have known how wonderful parts of this city were I'd have planned to come here, rather than just come here out of curiosity, and I think that anyone in the area would be glad they did the same.

Update: I came back for another visit almost exactly 7 years later to the day. This time it was 20 degrees and a beautiful sunny March day. Better weather, and a better camera too!

  • Last visit to Darmstadt: Mar 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (22)

Comments (4)

  • Jun 23, 2006 at 11:11 AM

    Another intriguing little German town you've found here Tim! Love the plane trees, tessy is right, it's surreal.

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Feb 12, 2006 at 2:22 PM

    You have a wonderful page on my hometown :-)) And opened my eyes to go and see what it all has to offer :-)) Thanks :-))

  • bugulma's Profile Photo
    Apr 12, 2005 at 7:02 AM

    Very interesting place with nice architecture. Wedding tower and Russian chappel look great together :-)

  • tessy's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2005 at 2:41 PM

    I libe near Darmstadt, but I never visited. Thanks for showing the beauties of Da! Platanengarten looks rather surrealistic!


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