Why is Hessen the health resort paradise of Germany?In no other federal state are there as many spa and bathing resorts with mineral springs as in Hesse. So where is Hessen?Find out more
“When bathing is the first duty / That you don’t break your head / And that at most you only study / How to lead the funniest life.” That’s what Goethe thought of Hesse. A pace to enjoy the time-out for body, mind and spirit. But where is Hesse exactly? And what is there to do?
On December 31, 2019, a total of 6,288,080 inhabitants lived in Hesse on an area of 21,114 square kilometers. So, an average of 298 people live on each square kilometer. Check this article and know where is Hessen.
The people in Hesse speak High German, but numerous dialects are also widespread, for example North Hessian in the area around the city of Kassel, the Frankfurt dialect in Frankfurt or the Rhöner Platt in the Rhön. Although there are more or less big differences of place and place, these languages are mostly referred to as Hessian.
People from other countries immigrated to Hessen again and again. In earlier centuries, refugees from France who left their country for religious reasons settled here. After the Second World War, many expellees from the former eastern German regions found a new home in Hesse, followed by guest workers from Italy, Spain, Turkey and Greece, and later war refugees from the former state of Yugoslavia.
In the past few years, emigrants from the former Soviet Union in particular have come to the country, and since 2015 many refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and other countries. Every seventh person in Hessen has a migration background, that is, he or his parents were born in another country.
An in-depth look at Hessen
Where is Hessen in Germany?
The German state Hesse or Hessia, aka the Land of Hessen is geographically located in the very center of Germany.
It is characterized by hilly terrain, forests, hot springs, numerous villages and fortresses.
What’s the state capital of Hessen?
The capital of Hesse is Wiesbaden. The city lies between the Rhine and the low mountain range of the Taunus and had a total of 278,474 inhabitants at the end of 2019. Directly across from it on the left bank of the Rhine is Mainz, the capital of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Wiesbaden was already settled in Roman times. The heath wall, a city fortification from this time, can still be visited. The historic pentagon is located in the center of the city. The old town hall from the 17th century and the city palace, from which the Dukes of Nassau once ruled, belong to this old town center. Today the state parliament of the state of Hesse is housed here.
Where else you can live well
Frankfurt: “Cosmopolitan”, “delightful” and “hospitable” is the banking or Goethe city. This is how the locals proudly describe their city. What makes Frankfurt so liveable? The enormous variety. The cosiness on the one hand and the internationality on the other. The small metropolis also does an excellent job in comparison with London or Barcelona.
Kassel: The university city is best known as the host of the documenta, one of the world’s most important exhibitions for contemporary art. But the geographical location of the city in the middle of Germany also makes Kassel a starting point for exploring the rest of the country.
Fulda: The largest city in East Hesse has a density of bars like hardly any other city in Germany. The Fasanerie Castle is very close – the former summer residence of the Fulda prince-bishops is considered the most beautiful baroque castle in Hesse.
Administrative districts, counties and large cities
The state of Hesse is divided into the administrative districts of Darmstadt, Kassel and Gießen. In each administrative district there are offices and authorities that take care of the environment, schools and the police, for example.
There are also 21 rural districts in which 423 municipalities are grouped together. In every rural district, in every town and in every municipality, women and men are regularly elected to advise and vote on important matters. Their meeting is called a district council, city council or local council. At the head of the districts are elected district administrators, and mayors are elected in the municipalities and cities.
The following 5 cities in Hesse are called independent cities. These include:
The most important river in Hessen is the Rhine. It is 1236 km long, making it one of the longest European rivers. It rises in Switzerland and flows into the North Sea in the Netherlands. It flows through Hesse over a length of 107 km. It forms the border with the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The Main is the longest right tributary of the Rhine. It is 527 km long and has its source in the Fichtel Mountains in Bavaria. It flows through Hesse over a length of 77 km. The large cities of Hanau, Offenbach, Frankfurt and Rüsselsheim lie on its banks. In the Wiesbaden district of Mainz-Kostheim it flows into the Rhine.
The Werra is 299 km long, it rises in Thuringia and then flows 95 km through Hesse.
The Fulda rises at the Wasserkuppe in the Rhön. It is 220 km long. 215 km of this it flows through Hesse. This makes it the longest river in this state’s territory. In Hannoversch Münden in Lower Saxony, Fulda and Werra unite to form the Weser.
The Eder is a 176 km long tributary of the Fulda. It rises in the Rothaar Mountains in North Rhine-Westphalia and then flows through northern Hesse. In the town of Waldeck, the Eder is dammed up to form Germany’s second largest reservoir. It flows into the Fulda near Edermünde, south of Kassel.
Mountains and landscapes
The Rhön is a mountain range in the triangle of the states of Thuringia, Bavaria and Hesse. Its highest mountain, the 950 meter high Wasserkuppe , is the highest mountain in the state of Hesse.
The Taunus is a mountain range in the southwest of Hesse. It is part of the Rhenish Slate Mountains. The highest mountain is the Große Feldberg with a height of 879 meters, it is also located in Hessian territory. Because of its proximity to the large cities of Hesse, it is a popular excursion destination, there are three nature parks and a variety of hiking trails.
The Vogelsberg is a low mountain range about 60 km north of Frankfurt. Its highest mountain is the font with a height of 773 meters. The mountains are the largest contiguous former volcanic area in Central Europe. The Vogelsberg is a popular winter sports area, and it is also accessible via many cycle paths.
The Spessart lies between Vogelsberg and Rhön in the federal states of Bavaria and Hesse. The highest point, the Geiersberg, is 585 m high and lies exactly on the border between Bavaria and Hesse.
The Habichtswald is a low mountain range in the north of Hesse. It is about 10 km wide and 25 km long, the highest mountain is Hohe Gras at 614 meters. The Habichtswald extends to the city limits of Kassel. Here is the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, a large landscape park of the Landgraves and Electors of Hesse-Kassel, known for its water features.
The Reinhardswald is a low mountain range in the north of Hesse. It is up to 472 meters high and part of the Weser Uplands. Here you will find the largest closed forest area in Hesse. The former hunting lodge Sababurg is located in the Reinhardswald and is popularly equated with the Sleeping Beauty Castle from the fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm.
The Wetterau is a landscape north of Frankfurt between Taunus and Vogelsberg. It is considered to be one of the oldest cultural landscapes in Germany. Because of its fertile soil, it is still used intensively for agriculture today. The old town of Friedberg is located in the Wetterau.
Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt is by far the largest city in the state of Hesse. If you add the suburbs and the surrounding area, more than 2.2 million people live here. Frankfurt is an important international financial center; the European Central Bank and the Deutsche Bundesbank have their headquarters here. The most important German stock exchange is also located here. Many large banks have also set up shop in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt is an important transport hub. The Frankfurt airport is the largest in Germany with 69 million passengers. The Frankfurt skyline is unique. In this city there are so many and so high skyscrapers as in no other German city. The Europaturm, a telecommunications tower, rises 337 meters. This is followed by the Commerzbank Tower, the Messeturm, the Westend Tower, the Main Tower and the Tower 185, five high-rise buildings that are at least 200 meters high.
Read more about Frankfurt here.
Neighboring federal states
Hessen is surrounded by several federal states. It borders on North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Thuringia and Lower Saxony. It has no borders with a neighboring European country.
Big Companies in Hessen
- The city of Frankfurt is the seat of large banks such as Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.
- The region around Frankfurt, the so-called Rhine-Main area, has a high industrial density. You can find companies like the technology group Heraeus Holding GmbH in Hanau, the pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA in Darmstadt or the car manufacturer Opel in Rüsselsheim.
- Fraport AG, the operator of Frankfurt Airport, employs more than 22,000 people. The German Lufthansa, the REWE Group, the German Railways and the German Post are also among the largest employers.
- Several large insurers such as R + V Versicherung AG have their headquarters in Wiesbaden. The largest employer in Northern Hesse is the Volkswagen factory in Baunatal near Kassel.
Government and Parliament
The Hessian parliament, the state parliament, meets in the city palace of Wiesbaden. 137 MPs have been represented here since the last election in September 2018.
The country is governed by a coalition of the CDU and the GREEN party. The Prime Minister is Volker Bouffier from the CDU.
Hessen is ideal for a short vacation or weekend trip
Some of the major tourist attractions
1. Sleeping Beauty Castle Sababurg
One of the special features of the Reinhardswald is the Sababurg, which dates back to 1334 and is known today as the Sleeping Beauty Castle Sababurg. A truly unique castle hostel with a fairytale ambience and a stylish, high-standard restaurant.
The castle (hotel & restaurant) is currently being extensively renovated and will therefore remain closed. But despite the construction phase, the outside location of this popular destination can still be visited (except in winter). Even Sleeping Beauty & Prince can still be seen live in the ruins. And a food truck (larger food truck) offers delicacies against hunger and thirst.
2. Palmengarten Frankfurt
The palm garden is the largest of its kind with a size of 22 hectares and is located in the state capital of Hesse, in Frankfurt. Visitors have been able to marvel at air-conditioned greenhouses since 1871. The garden developed at that time from a citizens’ initiative. In addition to two desert landscapes, you can also admire tropical and subtropical plants in the palm garden. It is one of three botanical gardens in the state capital. You will see the flora from many different climatic zones. The garden offers regular exhibitions and events.
3. Kaiser Wilhelm Tower (Spiegelslustturm)
The Kaiser Wilhelm Tower near Marburg, built between 1887 and 1890, is a popular destination on the Lahn Mountains. On the 36 m high viewing platform you can see the Feldberg in the Taunus, the Kahler Asten in the Sauerland and the Wasserkuppe of the Rhön when the weather is nice. But the tower is also ideal for romantic get-togethers, such as a marriage proposal. The adjoining restaurant offers cakes and regional dishes.
1. Dishes that are typical of the Hesse region
In North Hesse, the North Hessian bratwurst comes first, in Central Hesse hearty home cooking such as potato salad with cabbage enchants the taste buds, while in South Hesse the cuisine is even more rustic and original. In this area you can find variations of bread or yeast cake, the so-called bloatze and blood cake. The fruit growing in the Taunus, especially strawberries and apples are cultivated, determines the popularity of the apple, the so-called apple wine.
In the Rheingau, where Riesling dominates, the cuisine is characterized by sophistication. The dishes are lighter and finer, so that they harmonize with a fine droplet of the noble Riesling.
2. Must-taste dishes and drinks
The drink that you definitely have to try in Hessen is the so-called Äppler or Ebbelwoi, Öbbelwoi, Ebbelwei, Äbbelwoi or Stöffche. This is fermented cider that everyone loves.
The green sauce or semolina sauce, as it is called locally, the hand cheese with music, the Bethmännchen, a round baked product made from marzipan and almonds, a potato boatz or the onion boatz.
The Potato Boatz, which consists of bread dough and has potatoes, onions and bacon as a topping, can be described as Hessian pizza, while the onion boatz is almost exclusively topped with onions.
The blood cake is the traditional slaughter food that is somewhat reminiscent of the meat loaf from Bavaria. Meat, pork blood, onions, rolls and spices are filled into a mold and baked in the oven.
3. Äppler or cider
A highlight of the Hessian cuisine is the fermented apple wine, which is made from the wonderful apples of the region. This can be enjoyed pure or injected. Water or lemonade are used for spraying, which take away the sour taste of the wine.