St. Elisabeth's Church in Marburg
The landmark of Marburg, the Elisabeth Church, is a prime example of early Gothic architecture and was the first pure Gothic cathedral in Germany. It is believed to have been the inspiration for numerous other Gothic cathedrals throughout Europe. The church dates back to the 13th century, and its two spires majestically rise 80 meters high. Numerous Landgraves from Hessen are buried in the church, which also houses a shrine to Saint Elisabeth and a crucifix from the sculptor Ernst Barlach.
Marburg City Hall
Although the historic City Hall is no longer large enough for all 1,000 city employees, it remains the middle point of Marburg. The building was constructed between 1512 and 1527, and the marketplace in front was the scene of numerous historic events. The state of Hessen was founded here in 1248 when Sophie von Brabant, Saint Elisabeth's oldest daughter, declared her four-year-old son Heinrich to be Landgrave.
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Botanical Garden Gießen
As the oldest botanical garden in Germany, this four-hectare site can be found at its original location at the former palace garden of Louis V, Landgrave of Hessen-Darmstadt. Throughout its 400-year history, the garden has continued to evolve and now has more than 7,500 plant species. It is maintained by the University of Gießen, which uses it for research in the fields of botany, agricultural sciences, geography, medicine and veterinary medicine. The garden, located middle in the city, is open to the public without charge from 20 March to 20 October.
Goethe in Wetzlar
Goethe lived in Wetzlar for four months to satisfy his demanding father by working as a legal intern. His unhappy experiences later became the literary foundation for his first great novel, "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, the Jerusalemhaus, and a dozen other spots that played a role in the novel. The Lottehaus is the birthplace of Charlotte Buff, Goethe's 19-year-old muse. A former administration house of the Teutonic Order (Deutschen Ordens), the building (Lottestraße 8 - 10) was turned into a museum by proud Wetzlar citizens in 1863. Today, the museum features furnishings, documents and early editions by Goethe.
Goethe's inspiration for his protagonist, Werther, was Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem, who lived in a two-room apartment at Schillerplatz 5 until his tragic suicide in 1772. Now called the Jerusalemhaus, the half-timbered house is home to a little museum with historic furniture and documents relating to the famous novel.
Rising majestically more than 80 meters over the Butter Market, the Wetzlar Cathedral is the landmark of the city. Construction began in 1230 and continued over the next century. But because the cathedral was never completely finished, it incorporates Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture. Inside, visitors will find a trove of art treasures, including 14th century frescoes and a beautiful Pieta from 1380. Both Catholic and Protestants have been worshiping in the cathedral since the 16th century.
Sitting high above the Lahn River, the Limburg Cathedral can be seen from quite a distance and serves as a landmark for the entire region. One of the best examples of late Romanesque architecture, the cathedral has been well preserved in its original form and contains numerous murals and early medieval sculptures. Today, the cathedral is also the seat of the Limburg Diocese, which is responsible for nearly 700,000 Catholics living in the surrounding areas. Another highlight is the Limburger Boys Choir (Limburger Domsingknaben) which performs regularly in the cathedral and at international concerts.
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Wetzlar has had a long tradition with the optical and camera industry ever since Oskar Barnack invented the 35 mm camera for the company Leica in 1924. So it is fitting that the city created a permanent interactive installation highlighting the importance of the optical industry to the city's past, present and future. The 23 stations of the Optikparcours snake through the city, from the Forum Wetzlar shopping center to the old city. Each installation explores different aspects of light, glass, optics and illusions. The Parcours is a joint venture of the city, schools, universities, companies and the IHK Lahn-Dill. www.optikparcours.de For something completely different, visit the Dark Store for a completely dark experience for the senses
A former cloister located five kilometers south of Gießen, Schiffenberg Cloister is a favorite weekend excursion for both university students and local residents. Parts of the Schiffenberg date back to the 12th century, but the cloister has been carefully restored. Today, it serves as a site for classical music and rock concerts, medieval festivals, business conferences and other events. A restaurant and large beer garden are also located here. Set again the forest backdrop is one of the Germany's most attractive climbing parks. The cloister has an elevation of 259 meters, and in the winter, it's a popular place to go sledding.
At nearly 500 meters elevation, the Dünsberg is the highest mountain near Wetzlar and Gießen and a favorite of hikers and mountain bikers. Archeologists have also been coming to Dünsberg to research the Celts, an ancient tribal society from the Iron Age which had a settlement on the mountaintop. Local residents and hobbyists have also participated in the archeological digs. Many of the finds, as well as a reconstruction of a Celtic warriors garment, can be viewed at the Museum KeltenKeller, am Mühlberg 9, Biebertal-Rodheim.