Unlike the nearby opera houses in Mainz, Darmstadt and Frankfurt am Main, all of which have a distinctly modern look and feel, the State Theater in Wiesbaden looks like something a vain 19th century emperor would want to have built in his favorite spa, so he wouldn't have to do without his accustomed regal ambiance while he was here taking the waters.
Well, that's exactly what it is. Two Vienna architects named Fellner and Helmer designed and built this opera house to the specifications of the German Emperor Wilhelm II, who also paid for the building. (No wonder the people of Wiesbaden had a weakness for emperors.)
The main hall of the State Theater still (or rather again) has the same form and style of decoration as it did when it was built in the 1890s. The stage machinery has of course been modernized repeatedly.
Another concession to modernism is the video monitor, mounted on the first balcony, which enables the singers to see the conductor from all parts of the stage.
Second photo: Looking down from the middle of the third balcony.
The Bowling Green is a small square in front of the theater, with a pond and two fountains. In the summer you can see people playing boules here, and in the winter they build an ice-skating rink in the center of the square going right across the pond.
On the right hand side of the photo you can see the theater colonnade, and the building in the background is the Casino and Kurhaus. I took the first photo in 2004, by the way.
Second photo: Currently the Bowling Green is just a big construction site, because they have torn it up to make yet another underground parking garage, which Wiesbaden needs line a hole in the ground if you ask me. (They have the money for this sort of nonsense, but not for the proposed light rail system which really would have improved the local and regional transport situation.) I took this second photo from the Chinese restaurant in July 2005 while having lunch with visiting VT member shrimp56.
Here are two prominent landmarks of downtown Wiesbaden:
--The "new" City Hall (Neues Rathaus), which was built from 1884 to 1887. It was badly damaged by bombs in February 1945, and subsequently re-built in a simpler form in 1951.
--The protestant Market Church (Marktkirche), which was built from 1852 to 1862.
On the ground floor of the city hall there is usually a free art exhibition of some sort, dealing mainly with Wiesbaden or one of its partner cities. Opening hours are Monday-Friday from 7.00 to 18.30, and Saturday from 9.00 to 15.00.
Since Wiesbaden suffered relatively little destruction in the Second World War ("only" one third of the city was destroyed, which was bad enough but much less than in the other large cities in Hessen), the State Theater still has basically the same structure as when it was built from 1892 to 1894 and when the large foyer was added in 1902.
The building was originally proposed and financed by the reigning German emperor at the time, Wilhelm II, who was present when the theater was inaugurated on October 16, 1894.
This museum, which is owned by the state of Hessen, is currently undergoing extensive repairs, so the front half with the history and natural science departments is not open at present.
If you go around to the back, though, to the entrance on Augusta-Victoria-Straße, you can get into the art exhibits. The big exhibition currently (until March 19, 2005) is devoted to the Russian-born expressionist painter Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941), who spent the last twenty years of his life here in Wiesbaden.
Admission to the Jawlensky exhibition costs EUR 6.00. Closed on Mondays.
The foyer is the part of the theater building that has the most elaborate ornamentation.
On the left side of the second balcony in the main hall there are a few steps going up to an unmarked door. This provides access to the upper level of the foyer, which is where I went to take this picture.
The State Parliament of Hessen meets in this building, which was originally built from 1837 to 1842 as the city palace for Duke Wilhelm of Nassau.
Nassau in this case has nothing to do with the Bahamas. It refers to the Duchy of Nassau, which was founded in this area in 1806 at the behest of Napoleon, and existed until 1868 when it was annexed by Prussia.
If you want to attend a session of the State Parliament of Hessen, you have to apply in advance, for instance through their website.
The main hall of the State Theater (Großes Haus) has 1041 seats. The ones down front look quite comfortable, but up where I sit they are a bit small and close together, as though they were still the original size from 110 years ago. When you have to sit still during a four- or five-hour opera you begin to realize that people really were somewhat smaller in the 19th century than they are today.
When booking seats, try not to sit too far off to the side, because there are numerous seats in the balconies (Ränge) that do not allow a full view of the stage.
In addition to this "Large House", there is also a "Small House" with 328 seats and a "Studio" with 89 seats.
This popular park along the Wilhelmstraße between the museum and the theater is a great place for people watching in the summer, and in the winter you can at least look at the ducks in the pond.
The name "Warme Damm" is a bit puzzling. Warm dam? Warm embankment? The internet is of no help on this point, so maybe some nice Wiesbaden person can explain how this name came about.
There was already a park here in the Middle Ages, evidently, and the park in its current form was laid out in 1861. In the photo you can see the back of the State Theater through the trees.
This ornate foyer was completed in 1902, eight years after the theater itself was inaugurated.
This is where refreshments are available in the intermissions. There are also smaller refreshment counters on the levels of the second and third balconies.
Another unusual feature of the State Theater (Staatstheater) in Wiesbaden is that it looks entirely different from the front than from the sides or the back.
At the front it has a long row of white neo-classical columns, and the rest is neo-baroque in various shades of light brown.
The white columns were built to match those of a similar building on the opposite side of the Bowling Green, which is a small park with a pond and fountains.
In the years 1975 - 1978 the ceiling of the main hall was restored to its original form, so now the paintings and ornamentation are now just as they were when the hall was originally inaugurated in 1894.
Second photo: The right side of the ceiling, as seen from the third balcony.
Third photo: The ceiling with the chandelier, from the top of the third balcony.
The castle is not a castle , where you visit the rooms and where you feel in another time. When we came there, there have been lots of pupils. It was so busy.
Schloss Freudenberg is a castle for the senses. When we entered we were asked how much we wanna pay .... We were surprised, because we didn't know what expected us.
Evangelical main church of Wiesbaden, built by Karl Boos between 1853-62 on a site dedicated by the Duke of Nassau as a replacement for the Mauritius Church, that stood on Mauritius square but was destroyed by a fire.
The Neo-gothic church was the first purely brick building in the Duchy of Nassau.
Height: 98 m (West tower)
Length inside: 50 m
Width inside: 20 m
Height inside: 28 m
Tuesday - Friday 14:00 - 18:00
Wednesday 10:30 - 12:00
Saturday 10:00 - 14:00
Sunday 14:00 - 17:00
The Kochbrunnen (hot fountain) is the meeting point of 15 different springs. Even in winter, the temperature is 66 degrees celcius. Lots of steam comes out, and it is set in a nice plaza, with many places to sit down.