Darmstadt – why it looks ugly at first view
I am living more or less 17 years now in this city, and, in the beginning have seen only mostly the centre. I found it very ugly, and did not develop any kind of relationship, until early this year, when I started to read a bit more about the city. It taught me a lot, mainly not to have too much prejudices….
Darmstadt’s biggest fate was and in a way still is the damage from WW II. It was only bombed in one night, but this night destroyed more or less everything in the city centre. Hardly any house was saved, and this meant the complete destruction of all the old houses, which are typical in other cities. Only after I read a book about this bombing night, I understood and felt ashamed for having judged the city as ugly.
Luckily, a lot of the old historical buildings have been restored. Nevertheless, it does not cover the ugly after-war architecture, they have erected in the centre.
But, strolling through town, so many hidden beauties can be discovered, apart form the restored buildings. Photo 1 shows the bombing; view to the east: the Ludwigsäule can be seen, behind the castle. It must have been a wonderful old centre before that day, but it left only skeletons.
Photo 2 is the Ludwigskirche, the round one, after the bombing night.
The photos are scanned from a book about this bombing night.
State Museum - precision instruments (1)
Darmstadt has quite an important history in scientific research, and so in one hall of State Museum you can find old precision instruments from 18 & 19th century.
Among them is one of the very first microscopes, made by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632 - 1723), dutch scientist and pioneer in manufacturing of microscopes. By advancing the technique of lens bevelling he could reach magnifications up to 270x - quite an achievement for early 1700th ! As I am working with modern microscopes today, it was extremely fascinating to look at these treasures here in the museum and imagine how they have done their research with these skilled instruments !
Picture 1 shows a set of simple microscopes by Leeuwenhoek and Musschenbroek (of 1705 - 1718), picture 2 a microscope of Hertel technology, 1716, picture 3 a travel microscope by Michael Milchhuber, mid 18th century and picture 5 a microscope of Culpeper and Scarlet of 1790.
Langen is an "innovative, open-minded and tolerant city" (according to their mayor) with more than 36,000 inhabitants, located halfway between Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt, with good train connections to both.
I know two couples who live in Langen, and both for the same reason. Either he works in Frankfurt and she works in Darmstadt, or visa-versa, so they live in the middle.
The first photo shows a sign in Darmstadt pointing the way to Langen via the bicycle routes 17 and R8.
Route 17 zig-zags through the woods and is currently my favorite route from Frankfurt to Darmstadt.
The R8 is one of the nine regional cycling routes in Land Hessen. It starts near Heppenheim and goes north through Darmstadt, Frankfurt-Höchst, Limburg and Dillenburg, ending in Frankenberg (Eder) in the northern part of Hessen.
I have also mentioned the R1 and the R3 on some of my other VirtualTourist pages.
Second photo: Roofed-over bicycle stands at the station in Langen.
49°59'36.84" North; 8°39'24.68" East
Hochzeitsturm (Wedding tower)
The Hochzeitsturm with its fantastic top was built for the wedding of Großherzog Ernst Ludwig. It was built from 1907 to 1908 by Joseph Maria Olbrich.
Underneath the tower there is a water reservoir from the late 1800s.
Another of the outstanding landmarks of the city centre is the Weisser Turm (White Tower). It was originally built in the 15th century, and used as a corn tower in the city walls. In 1708 it was raised to its current height, and had a roof added with a prominent spike, which is extremely reminiscent of those old World War I Prussian helmets the German officers would wear. The tower was unfortunately destroyed in the last war, but has been thankfully rebuilt. It now, since 1997, houses a gallery owned by the Darmstadt Photoclub.