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Hesse - Forests, Wine and Water

Wonderful hilly landscapes, great vineyards, deep forests and impressive river landscapes characterise the German state of Hesse. While you find many attractions in and around the cities, the rural regions offer relaxation. Enjoy the local specialities and forget about your everyday life.

Wine-growing region in Hesse

Geography - One of the most important financial centres in the world

Hesse has an area of 21,115 km² and lies in the middle of Germany. It is enclosed by the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia, Lower Saxony and Bavaria and has a population of about 6.1 million people. Hesse's biggest city is Frankfurt am Main, one of the most important financial centres in the world. Its capital, however, is Wiesbaden. Other big cities are Kassel, Darmstadt and Offenbach am Main. Cities and towns which are of interest to tourists are Fulda, Amöneburg, Gießen, Marburg, Wetzlar and Hanau. The climate has an oceanic character but this decreases from north to south. The summers are very warm and the winters are relatively mild.

The capital of Frankfurt am Main

Nature - Forests as far as the eye can see

Hesse's landscape is shaped by numerous heavily forested low mountain ranges. The highest peak is the Wasserkuppe in the Rhön, which is 950.2 metres high. Furthermore, the region is characterised by many river landscapes such as the Weser Uplands, the Main, the Rhine, the Lahn valley and the Neckar. Hesse is divided into numerous geographical regions such as north, south, east and central Hesse, the Rothaar Mountains, the Rhön, the Taunus, Spessart, the Westerwald and the Rhine Main region. Natural highlights are Hesse's only national park, the Keller-Edersee National Park, the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, the Rheingau with the great vineyards and the Messel pit. The latter is a famous site of fossil finds which is part of the UNSECO World Natural Heritage, just like the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Other attractions are Frankfurt Zoo and the Palmengarten ("palm garden").

Typical landscape in Hesse

Culture - Discovering fantastic castles

Hesse has a rich history, which makes the state a special destination. It was shaped by the times of the Romans, Carolings and Goths and is full of cultural sights. The cities and towns have beautiful half-timbered houses, countless monasteries and castles as well as a great number of museums. Popular attractions are the Löwenburg near Kassel, the Europaturm ("Tower of Europe"), the Waldspirale (a residential building designed by Hundertwasser), Ludwigstein Castle, Limburg Cathedral, Frankfurt Cathedral, the Niederwalddenkmal (a monument), the Saalburg and the Hercules monument, a copper statue of the Greek demigod Heracles. Another worthwhile sight is the "Barbarossa city" of Gelnhausen. There is a variety of impressive museums, including the Goethe House, the Naturmuseum Senckenberg, the Schirn Kunsthalle (an art gallery), the Museum for Modern Art, the Mathematikum (a science museum), the Hessenpark (an open-air museum), the German Architecture Museum and the Railway Museum in Darmstadt-Kranichstein. One highlight is the Frankfurter Museumsufer, which accommodates 15 museums in one place. World Heritage sites in Hesse are the Abbey of Lorsch and the Limes Germanicus (a line of frontier fortifications).

A castle in Hesse

Experience -Local delicacies and festive Christmas markets

You will probably fall in love with Hesse in the blink of an eye. Besides numerous excellent shopping facilities, the state has a fantastic cuisine with specialities which are known across its borders. A typical side are potatoes, for example to the popular dish "Grüne Soße mit Pellkartoffeln" ("green sauce with boiled potatoes in the skin"). Other delicious dishes are the Ahle Wurst (a salami), the Frankfurter Würstchen (sausages), Handkäs (sour milk cheese) and the Frankfurter Bethmännchen (a marzipan pastry). However, Hesse is mainly known for its Apfelwein (cider, literally "apple wine"), which is served in blue and white jars. In winter, the Christmas markets attract many visitors. They create a wonderful festive atmosphere. If you are in a party mood you can visit the many bars, clubs and discos in the big cities, in which you can celebrate until the early morning hours. Outside of the cities, you find many opportunities for relaxing, for example holidays in the countryside, during which you can take a break from everyday life. Thanks to the wide range of spa facilities, travellers can reconcile body, mind and soul.

Frankfurt am Main's Christmas market

Activities - A real winter sports paradise

Due to the diverse scenery, Hesse offers excellent conditions for a variety of leisure and sporting activities such as hiking, golfing, horseback riding, cycling, canoeing and kayaking. Winter sports fans also get their money's worth here because the low mountain ranges, especially the Rothaar Mountains, are perfectly suited for going skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and tobogganing. You can visit one of the fascinating wildlife and animal parks or have eco holidays on a farm. Travellers who are looking for exciting activities do not go short either. They can go climbing in the dark, in the water or underground. In addition, visitors can go go-karting, jet-skiing and hang-gliding.

Winter in the Rhön Mountains


Hesse can easily be reached by plane because Frankfurt Airport is the second biggest airport in the whole of Europe. Alternatively, visitors can arrive by car or train because the region is located at a traffic hub. Furthermore, the rivers Rhine and Main are navigable.

Hesse impresses with a unique breathtaking landscape and countless sights, which make the state appealing to both lovers of nature and culture enthusiasts. In addition, it offers a wide range of leisure and sporting activities. In winter, the low mountain ranges are the ideal destination for winter holidays.

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