and growing city, with residents from more than 150 countries and a total population of 80,000. Currently, 2,700 housing units are being constructed in the city. The public and private service sectors are centrally important for Gießen as a business location. The city is also influenced by the more than 37,000 students attending the city's two universities. Gießen is the number one university town in Germany, with the highest percentage of students than any other city. The educational offerings also include two institutions to train civil servants, as well as 32 primary, secondary and occupational schools.
Gießen offers a wide range of sporting activities. Thanks to its location on the banks of the Lahn River, there are many opportunities for water sports and bicycle touring. During the summer months, some streets are closed to allow inline skaters to participate in the Tuesday–Night–Skating gathering. There are more than 110 sports clubs in the city for every possible athletic interest. The cultural offerings in Gießen are also quite strongerse. The Stadttheater Gießen features not only theater performances, but also music and dance. The city also has a concert hall, an art exhibition hall, five museums (including the well–known Mathematikum and the Liebig Museum), as well as numerous event venues showcasing a cultural scene rich in music, art and theater . Gießen is also a green city - the Botanischer Garten is the oldest botanical garden in Germany and is located at its original spot in the city center. Gießen serves as a shopping magnet for the entire region, with a good selection of stores and boutiques, as well as a well–visited shopping mile. Indeed, for German cities with a population of under 100,000, Gießen ranks number one in terms of total number of shoppers.www.giessen.de
With a population of over 72,000, Marburg is one of the three major cities in Mittelhessen. It's also a youthful city - every fourth resident is a student at the local university, the Philipps–Universität Marburg. It was founded in 1527 and has a long tradition as the first Protestant university in Germany. The first Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to Emil Behring, a university professor who developed the diphtheria vaccine. His legacy lives on today at CSL Behring in Marburg, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in biotherapies for disease treatment. Thanks to extensive technology transfer between the university and the private sector, Marburg has developed into an important business location for pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.
Other major companies in Marburg include Siemens Healthcare, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi–Aventis and Pharmaserv. The Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology is also located here. All this high tech is set against the backdrop of a carefully restored historic old town with narrow alleys and winding streets. Marburg was one of the first cities in Germany to recognize the importance of historical preservation and began to carefully restore the old town in the early 1970s. The city has received honors for its forward–looking city planning. In addition to the old town, The Marburg Castle is also well worth a visit, in particular the Knights' Hall. Thanks to its student population, Marburg values culture. In the summer months, concerts are frequently staged in an open–air theater on the castle grounds.
One of the most historic cities in Germany, Wetzlar is situated on the banks of the Lahn River. The old town is a well–preserved ensemble of half–timbered houses and buildings from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. The city's best known landmark is the majestic Wetzlar Cathedral which rises above the narrow streets and steep cobblestone walkways of the old city. Goethe lived in Wetzlar for four months in 1772 while working at the Reichskammergericht (the highest court in the land) as an unhappy legal intern. His experiences with unrequited love and tragic friendship later became the central themes in his first literary success: The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers).
Many of the buildings in the old town still look as they did in Goethe's time, including the Lottehaus, Jerusalemhaus and a dozen other spots that played a role in the novel. The industrialization of Wetzlar began in the 19th century when the Lahn River became navigable for ships, and train lines were established. Wetzlar developed into one of the German industrial centers for metalworking, precision mechanics and optics. The first commercial precision miniature camera, the Leica I, was introduced in 1924 by the Ernst Leitz optical firm in Wetzlar. Today, Wetzlar is a city of 52,000 and has continued to maintain its well–earned reputation for excellence in these industrial sectors. International companies such as Bosch Thermotechnik, Buderus Edelstahl, Leica Microsystems, Continental, Minox or Zeiss are located here. In 2014, Leica Camera opened a stunning new headquarters building in Leitz–Park in 2014.