With a population of about 20,000, Herborn is noted for its well-preserved town center with half-timbered houses, 1,000-year-old church and the gothic Herborn Castle - which today serves as a seminary for the Hessen-Nassau Protestant Church. Herborn is one of the stops along three important historical tourist routes: the German Half-Timbered House Road, the Orange Route (commemorating the Dutch-German dynasty) and the Solmser Route.
A rural town of 13,000, Hungen is known as the Shepherds City. Every year the city holds the Shepherds Festival, which attracts participants from throughout Hessen. Like many towns in this region, Hungen boasts a long history. It was the ancient Romans who erected the Limes Wall which ran through Hungen. In 1974, the 600-year-old Hungen Castle was purchased by local citizens and has been carefully restored.
With 16,000 residents, Kirchhain is a small town outside of Marburg. The town's landmark is the half-timbered town hall which was built around 1450. The medieval wall that once surrounded Kirchhain is mostly intact. And a massive 1,000-year-old lime tree has been designated a natural monument and was featured in a stamp issued by the German post office.
Laubach is a town of 10,000 residents located about 23 kilometers east of Gießen in the foothills of the Vogelsberg mountains. Laubach has numerous half-timbered houses, but the main point of attraction is the Laubach Castle, which still belongs to the Count Solms-Laubach family. Built in the 13th century, the castle has one of the largest private libraries in Europe, with over 120,000 titles. An original Gutenberg Bible, on display in the Johannes Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, came from this private collection. The castle grounds, which include a huge park with a swan lake, are open to the public.
Located in the foothills of the Vogelsberg mountains, Lauterbach has a population of about 14,000. As the seat of the Vogelsberg administrative district (Kreisstadt), Lauterbach is known for its half-timbered houses. About 3 km south of Lauterbach stands the 16th century Castle Eisenbach, which is still the private residence of the noble family Riedesel. Another highlight is the Golf Club Lauterbach, which is located on the grounds of the Castle Sickendorf.
With a population of 13,000, Lich has a nearly intact historic city center with half-timbered houses, as well as a 48-meter city tower that dates back to the 15th century. Prehistoric tools dating back 100,000 years to the Neanderthal period have been found in the forest outside of town, as have the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman fort. Licher, one of the leading beer brands in Hessen, is also brewed in the city.
History is ever present in Limburg. A picturesque city on the banks of the Lahn River, Limburg celebrated its 1100th anniversary in 2010. Considered one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe, Limburg is known for its narrow cobblestone alleys, half-timbered houses and its cathedral with seven spires. Today, the cathedral is the seat of the Limburg Diocese, which is responsible for nearly 700,000 Catholics living in the surrounding region. The city also has an excellent high-speed ICE rail connection which opened in 2003 and can reach the Frankfurt Airport in under 20 minutes.
Stadtallendorf is one of the youngest cities in Hessen, having only received town rights in 1960. It is a dynamic business location with several large factories located within its city limits. The city also has good highway connections to B454 and B62, and the IC train offers regular service to both Frankfurt and Kassel. Before World War II, Stadtallendorf was a small farming village before the Nazis built a secret munitions factory here -- the largest in Europe with up to 25,000 workers (many of them forced labor). This is well documented at an information center open to the public.
For many years a residence town of the House of Nassau-Weilburg, this jewel of a city is located on the banks of the Lahn River. The majestic Weilburg Castle, one of the best preserved Renaissance castles in Europe, overlooks the river but also dominates the entire old town. Visitors can also explore the castle's gardens, the marketplace and the game park (Tiergarten Weilburg) -- the former royal hunting grounds in nearby Hirschhausen. Every summer, the castle serves as a spectacular setting for a concert series of mostly classical music.