Oh well, what can I say….. in my humble opinion a tourist office that is closed on Sundays and open on Saturdays until 16:00 only is not necessarily what I call visitor friendly. But what did I expect? It is no secret that I don’t like the town much and especially the ones responsible for tourism. But I am not alone with this feeling. To quote an employee of a municipal/public office: “If the ones of Darmstadt City Marketing would understand their job, bus loads of visitors would stop every day on Mathildenhöhe”. That remark made me smile, especially since I met him during an official appointment in his office.
Recently I played the innocent visitor and asked for information material or brochures. They offered me a simple bilingual two-page brochure with city map, but for 2 €, which I did not buy. In addition I have asked several “test” questions but the answers were…. Very general to say least.
Just as a comparsion: Speyer, Marburg, Heidelberg and other important and interesting towns I know do open their tourist offices on Sundays as well. They have free brochures, leaflets and maps and are usually happy to hand them over to the visitors. For example: I got a lot of material from the one in Worms and the woman told me so much about interesting places to visit and also asked me a lot to get an idea of what I might be interested to see. The tourist offices in southern Bavaria are similar in their offers and attitude. In Schongau (region Pfaffenwinkel) and in Oberammergau (region Ammergauer Alpen) for example I also received a lot of information, free maps and brochures, leaflets and knowledgeable answers to my specific questions. When I asked if I could pay at least something into their thank-you-box they smiled and said “Oh no, that is why we are here for”. This is what I call a visitor friendly attitude.
What would you expect from a tourist office? Definitely help and free information material. If so, no chance in Darmstadt. Better to consult a website before. But then, Darmstadt City Marketing has changed their website almost twice per year without redirection, which is why I gave up linking them in any of my reviews. They also removed their English section, which, in a city that prides itself being a “centre of science”, hence having a lot of foreign people working here or being here on business trips is … a joke.
In a way I can proudly say that my own page is the most extensive information about the town in www, including sophisticated research and linking.
The tourist office, btw, is located at Luisenplatz – on the left hand side in Luisencentre, the shopping centre.
© Ingrid D., 2008; update October 2013: wording only.
The city was been badly bombed during WW II, so there is no old town centre. There are hardly any half-timbered housed here, and if, only in remote places the average visitor won’t likely find. The town centre itself is not very appealing with its after-war architecture without any specific charm.
The parks are nice, but not really something to write home about, except Rosenhöhe park. The biggest museum in town is closed for renovations since more than 6 years and no reliable date is fixed for reopening. Before it closed it was also nothing to write home about because there was hardly any educational or informative effect, compared to excellent museums like Historical Museum of the Palatine in Speyer or the Technical Museum in Mannheim.
But - Darmstadt has a nice Art Nouveau part and this is its main attraction. Mathildenhöhe and Artists’ Colony, how this part of Darmstadt is called, awaits visitors with a beautiful selection of Art Nouveau architecture and also a museum with exhibits of some daily objects of Art Nouveau time, which have been designed here.
If you are here and want to relax in lush and green surroundings, we have several parks, yes, but the most beautiful one is Rosenhöhe, just some minutes off Mathildenhöhe. And then there is Prinz Georg Garten, a beautiful Rococo garden. And finally Darmstadt has a Hundertwasser House for the lovers of this special kind of art and architecture.
© Ingrid D., 2006; update October 2013: wording only.
I live more or less 25 years in this city, and, in the beginning I have seen mostly its centre. I found it very ugly and up to now could not decide to like it. But some time ago I started to do a bit of research about its history and came to understand why it is so ugly in the centre. Though I don’t like it better now, but I found some peace with it. But then … I will leave the town soon to live in a region that offers me what I really miss: mountains and many organic farms.
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 that weren’t target for air raids. Only after I read a book about this bombing night, I understood and felt ashamed for having judged the city as ugly.
RAF’s “statistics” for the night of September 11, 1944: 30 minutes, 240 bombers, more than 1000 bombs, 99% of the town centre destroyed, 11500 dead, 66000 homeless.
There is a Wikipedia article about the bombing night and also the German Wikipedia article about Darmstadt’s history shows several photos of how badly the centre was destroyed.
Luckily, a lot of the old historical buildings have been restored. Nevertheless, it does not cover the ugly after-war architecture erected in the centre. But, strolling through town many hidden beauties can be discovered, apart form the restored buildings.
© Ingrid D., 2006; update October 2013: wording only.
I would take first-time visitors to the Mathildenhöhe: with a great view over the city, this place also imparts a sense of history. Climb on top of the Hochzeitsturm (wedding tower) !!!
Explore a 360° virtual tour of this and other places in Darmstadt I visited here:
Darmstadt is a town with about 130 000 inhabitants in the south of the county Hessen. It is the 4th biggest town of Hessen. Darmstadt is well known because of Art Nouveau at Mathildenhoehe.
But it is as well a centre for sciences. There are more than 30000 students studying especially technics there.
Favorite thing: As one might expect for a city with such a proud artistic heritage, there are plenty of wonderful sculptures around the city. The ones that caught my eye in particular were the ones that of the human form, but twisted and contorted into different shapes, sometimes in ways that looked tortured, like the statue outside the State Museum. This one of a man turned into a hand holding a book was on Kirchstr., just up from the Stadtkirche.
Favorite thing: Okay, I was really new to it.. I was walking in the park.. Forgot the name of it, but you can't miss it, it's in the middle of town and right at the spot where it's behind some university faculty, there's a spot where people play giant chess. it's cool.
Visit the Russian Chapel (an original chapel, too!); the Marriage Tower
near the chapel and see the Wedding Chambers for a small fee; walk
in the Rosenhoehe Park.
Fondest memory: The nice atmosphere- the town is not geared towards tourism (and
thus also does not have many tourist traps), but is quitre open to
Favorite thing: I have only been here about 6 months, but I love it. It is centrally located and you can get anywhere quickly. Frankenstein's castle is a must though. There's not much left of it right now, but it's a great place to say that you have been too.
The photos are in the right order of my city walk. Take a look at the city map for orientation: