"Opera and Cycling in Darmstadt" Top 5 Page for this destination Darmstadt by Nemorino

Darmstadt Travel Guide: 205 reviews and 657 photos

The redesigned State Theater in Darmstadt, 2008

As it was originally built in the early 1970s, the Hessen State Theater in Darmstadt was a grotesque example of car-oriented architecture. It consisted mainly of a large parking garage, with a nondescript theater as an appendage.

There was no front entrance, to speak of, just a blank wall with a couple of doors. The planners evidently assumed that all the spectators (or at least all the important ones) would come by car, park in the parking garage and from there have direct access to the theater lobby. Since they would never see the front entrance, why bother to build one?

Then came the 21st century. From 2002 to 2007 extensive repairs and remodeling were done on the building. The entire stage machinery of the Large House was taken out and replaced, crumbling parts of the foundations and walls were repaired and the whole building was modernized to conform to current fire safety standards. And they patched up the leaky parts of the roof.

At the same time, two changes were made that would have been unthinkable in the previous century. First, they sacrificed part of the parking garage to create a new 100-seat chamber theater with its own lobby and bar. And second, they made a striking new façade and entrance area at the front of the building, for the benefit of the non-motorized majority of opera and theater goers.

Since Darmstadt is less than thirty kilometers from my home city of Frankfurt am Main, I have gone there fairly often over the years, either by bicycle or by local train.

On one of my recent visits to Darmstadt I met up with Ingrid (VT member Trekki), who lives and works there. Actually we had already met once before, on a memorable day in Frankfurt when she was there to pick up her visa from the Uzbekistani Consulate.

Ingrid is by no means uncritical of Darmstadt, but after living there for nineteen years she has recently started looking at it "with a tourist's eyes", and the result is an interesting and authoritative collection of tips on her Darmstadt page.




Darmstadtium 110

Darmstadt is one of only six cities in the whole world that have elements named after them.

There are no such elements as newyorkium, chicagoium, londonium, amsterdamium or frankfurtammainium, but there is an element called berkelium after the city of Berkeley, California. There are also elements called dubnium after the Russian city of Dubna, hafnium after the Latin name for Copenhagen, holmium after the Latin name for Stockholm and lutetium after the Latin name for Paris.

And there is an element called darmstadtium, which was first discovered in the Wixhausen district of Darmstadt in 1994.

But it wasn't just lying around on the street waiting to be discovered. They had to go to a lot of trouble to make a few atoms of it.

An atom of darmstadtium has 110 protons, which is quite a large number when you consider that an atom of hydrogen gets along perfectly well with only one proton, helium with two, lithium with three, beryllium with four, boron with five, carbon with six, nitrogen with seven, oxygen with eight, etc.

By the way, if you should hear some jocular German scientist talking about an element called "policium", don't worry, he or she really means darmstadtium. Policium is just its unofficial nickname because 110 is the number you have to dial in Germany to call the police.

  • Last visit to Darmstadt: Feb 2008
  • Intro Updated Jan 1, 2014
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Reviews (17)

Comments (25)

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    Hi Don, First time for everything - Darmstadtium 110. WWII photo amazing damage, resiliant people to rebuild. Where did the money come from ? USA?

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Sep 5, 2013 at 9:18 AM

      Mike, thanks for your ratings and comment on my Darmstadt page. I'm sure there was some American money from the Marshall Plan, but I don't know how much or how decisive it was.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jun 24, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    I look at your tips on cycling and always see flat tracks. Do you ever have steep hills to cycle over?
    If we had tracks and on the flat here, I would enjoy cycling, not so with the hills and semi-trailers whizzing past me, too close for comfort :)

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Jun 25, 2013 at 4:39 AM

      Dee, thanks for your visit to my Darmstadt page. Darmstadt and Frankfurt are both reasonably flat, as is the landscape in between, so it’s easy cycling. As for the bicycle tracks, they are getting more and more common, but each one is the result of persistent lobbying on the part of the bicycle clubs. Fortunately the current Lord Mayor of Darmstadt is a member of the Greens Party, so things are looking up.

  • lmkluque's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Interesting history. The devastation of war is always a sad note.

  • greekcypriot's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Each page is unique. Excellent work Don.

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Dec 21, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    I will have to visit Darmstadt again, I see that I have missed a lot of important spots there :)

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Oct 1, 2008 at 3:38 AM

    I envy the way many of your cities and towns have a fine network of bicycle paths. We have so much to learn here. As you say about Darmstadt - we are too car-oriented. Thanks for checking out my new York pages.

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Mar 22, 2008 at 10:59 PM

    by kike to the opera is always a great combination ! Darmstadt is a place I hope to visit one day !

  • Mar 20, 2008 at 9:08 AM

    During my stay in Darmstadt, I rode my bike everywhere. All of friends thought I was crazy, but I managed to stay in great shape. Darmstadt is a wonderful city & your page here is equally magnificent.

  • Marisola's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2008 at 9:57 AM

    How do you know so much about the elements? Are you a chemist, too?

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2008 at 4:55 PM

    The castle, market place and venerable old buildings used for new purposes show Darmstadt appreciates its past. It's also striving to the future with its promotion of bike paths and other improvements! Very nice page, Don.

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