There is a unique statue near the Stadttheater (City Theatre) and across the street from the Tourist Information Center. The statue is along Südanlage in the Stadtpark. We initially saw it when we arrived in Giessen and wasn’t sure what it was; however, the materials given to us by the Tourist Information staff answered our questions.
The statue represents a very large bone with steel beams going through it to represent X-rays. It seems that the man who discovered X-rays, Wilhelm Röntgen, worked at the University of Giessen, where he was the chair of the physics department. Röntgen, a German physicist, was the one who found electromagnetic radiation in wavelengths, which we now commonly call X-rays. The official name for these waves is Röntgen waves. Röntgen would receive the first Nobel Prize for physics in 1901 for his discovery. Röntgen is buried in Giessen in the Alter Friedhof (old cemetery).
The botanical gardens were probably my favorite part of Giessen. It was very relaxing to stroll on the tree lined paths and see so many varieties of plants, nicely labeled by continent and type of plant. Within the greenhouse, there was a host of plants with many types of varieties from succulents to water plants.
For the young ones, there is a bamboo maze within the gardens (although not too hard that they’ll get lost). Plenty of places to sit and enjoy the surroundings in this peaceful place made the gardens a real pleasure to visit.
I’m already planning a return trip next spring to see different plants growing for that time of the year.
See my Travelogue for more photos from these beautiful gardens.
Outside the old church tower in the Kirchenplatz is a memorial stone to the bombing of Giessen during World War II. Sadly, the town was almost 75% destroyed during the bombings of 1944 and many of the town’s historic buildings are gone (the ones you see today are reconstructions). Part of the reason for the bombings was the subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp located in Giessen. Later an American military base would be located in Giessen on the site of the former German Army Air Field; the base was closed in 2007.
Part of the university feel of Giessen is from the multitude of head statues that can be found all around the town. Most of these heads (or at least the ones I saw) appear to be famous people connected to the university. The heads were created by different sculptors and there are full descriptions (in German) on the pedestals explaining who the honored person is and their accomplishments.
The Tourist Information Office was the first place we headed to after parking the car. It is located across the street from the City Theatre (Stadttheater) and next to the Kongresshalle. The staff was extremely helpful and, as a bonus, they spoke English after putting up with our horrible attempts at German. We were provided maps and information about a walking tour of the town, details about the city festival that was occurring that same weekend, and confirmed the location of the restaurant we came to eat at. Additionally, closing times of some of the museums and the market were given to us so we could plan our time accordingly. Overall, we were very impressed with the TI Office; recommend it be your first stop in Giessen.
Unlike Heidelberg, which built its inconspicuous City Theater in the middle of a city block surrounded by other buildings, the one in Giessen is a prominent free-standing building on a major intersection at the end of a strip of park and at the edge of the central pedestrian zone.
The Giessen theater seats 600 people. It was built in 1906/1907 in neo-classical style, with money that had been donated for the most part by citizens of the city.
It was one of the few buildings in the city center that did not suffer any major damage during a night of bombing in 1944, because "two courageous people served as fire wardens" as it says on a plaque on the front of the building.
Right around the corner from the Mathematikum is another small but fine museum devoted to the life and work of Justus Liebig, the 19th century chemist for whom the university in Giessen is now named.
The eleven rooms of the museum are Liebig's laboratory from his years as a professor at Giessen University, and a lot of his original equipment is on display.
The exhibits are labeled in German only, but the museum says it also has information available in Albanian, Chinese, Danish, English, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Swedish, Spanish, Russian, Czech and Hungarian.
Open daily (except Monday) from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is EUR 3.00 for adults; EUR 2.00 for children and students (as of 2013).
Giessen's newest museum bills itself as "the world's first mathematical science center". It was opened in 2002 and includes over one hundred interactive exhibits on three floors, some involving mirrors to create multiple images, as in the photo.
The Mathematikum is big enough to be worth the admission (EUR 6 for adults, 4 reduced and 12 for a family), but not so big as to be totally intimidating. In fact there is nothing intimidating about it, because the whole place is open, airy and hands-on, and it is run by a friendly, service-oriented young staff.
All the exhibits and activities are labeled in German and English, and they also have a free English folder called "hands-on mathematics" at the entrance.
They are open seven days a week until 6 pm (18:00), Thursdays till 8 pm (20:00).
This protestant church is the biggest church in Giessen. It was built from 1891 and inaugurated in 1893. Outside it's new romanic and renaissance style and inside gotic. The original stained windows were distroyed during WW2 and the new ones are by Erhard Klonk. The tower is 75 meters high. Unfortunately the church is closed except for services and concerts. Since some employee went to fetch something I was able to go into the foyer and take a peek through the glass doors. I saw some huge colourful windows and was told that there was nothing to see. I can't really agree to that.
This dates back to the 16th century when the city's fortification walls were built. When they were taken away around 1810 it was built over in Biedermeier style. For a long time this corner of the city was used by police and army. From this time comes the name "Kasernengaesschen". After it was down to nearly ruins the city bought the lot in 1968. Later it was renovated by private and public sources.
On the green stretch around the town where there used to be the castle ditches rich people built villas. This one was built in 1884/5 and when it came through the war undamaged the American took it and it served as a officer's mess.
The planning was done by the Viennese architects Fellner and Hellmer. The building was constructed under the lead of a local architect in 1906/7. The building survived WW2 with hardly any damages and the first play performed after the war was Faust by Goethe.
This is the oldest botanical garden by an university that still remains on the original grounds. It was founded in 1609.
The botanical gardens are closed during winter time from 21st October until 19th March. During the rest of the year they have various opening times but the shortest ones are from 8 am until 3.30 pm. The greenhouses have yet again other, much shorter opening hours and they are generally only open between 15th May and 15th September and they also close for a lunch break.
Because the Stadtkirche (city church) was destroyed during WW2, in 1949 an emergency church was built with the financial help from the St. Louis church in USA. It's a wooden tent roof construction on stone walls.
The tower is 50,7 meters high and is considered "the" landmark of Giessen. It was built between 1484 and 1520. The tower always stood independent of the church building, which was destroyed in WW2. You can climb the tower from Tuesday till Saturday from 10 am till 4 pm and Sundays from 11 am till 4 pm. The key can be received at the Oberhessisches Museum (Wallenfelsches Haus) for a deposit.