"Darmstadt: a City of Surprises" Top 5 Page for this destination Darmstadt by antistar
Darmstadt Travel Guide: 205 reviews and 657 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!
An important centre of commerce since the 14th century, Darmstadt's Market Square sits in front of the Palace in a busy... more travel advice
As one might expect for a city with such a proud artistic heritage, there are plenty of wonderful sculptures around the... more travel advice
antistar's Related Pages
Darmstadt Travel Guide
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- "Discovering Darmstadt with the eyes of a tourist"
- "Darmstadt: a City of Surprises"
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