I knew from friends that Darmstadt is grey, sad and boring. I also never heard of anything worth visiting there. But living so close I had to give it a try. This time without any plan. I was just wandering around looking for colours of Darmstadt. Here is what I found.
It is going to be a walk around the city, which can be done in one day and covers a lot of places. It can be also combined with bus or tram trip if walking is too much.
Hauptbahnhof and Mornewegstrasse
Let’s start at the central train station (Darmstadt Hbf). From here a lot of buses and trams leave, but we will walk just straight towards Mornewegstr. This way we can skip the busy road. There are some schools and hospital there. Maybe not interesting for tourists, but I wanted to see the real city, where everyday life takes place, so I couldn’t choose better. My first impression was – yes, it is really grey. It was also sad, because of clouds and there weren’t any people walking there.
Rheinstrasse and Luisenplatz
Once we reach Steubenplatz , we can turn right towards Rheinstr., which would lead us to the Luisenplatz in the city center. That is where some colours show. They have “happy” trams – orange and blue and traffic lights show a little man in a hat – very cute. Along the way I also found some mosaic columns.
Luisenplatz is much more lively. That’s where the shops are. Not for this tour, but for any other time I strongly recommend shopping in Darmstadt. There is nice variety of brands. Stores are huge and not overcrowded, so the selection of products is great as well.
At the Darmstadt Shop Luisencenter is the tourist information point, good to get some maps, magazines and ask about current events. In the centre there is a big statue of Louis IV – Grand Duke of Hesse.
White Tower and Market place
From there we walk towards Schlossmuseum, passing the White Tower (Weiβer Turm) on the right. Just opposite the museum there is a market place, where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, but also eggs, flowers and local products. A bit further behind the market place, there is a Cathedral.
Landesmuseum, Hermgarten and Garden of Prince George
But we will walk to opposite direction, behind the Schlossmuseum. It has a very nice garden around, with a bar opened in summer season. Then we pass the Hessisches Landesmuseum. It looked to me like it is quite popular place with a lot of people in front of main door, but it was just because of fire alarm… However, I am sure that art and history lovers find some interesting exhibitions there (coming soon: Tony Cragg. Unnatural Selection- March 2017)).
From the more busy center we will go now to the less busy park – Hermgarten. There is a little pond and a fountain, plenty of grass and a café to have a sit. There are also some university buildings along the fence and kind of skatepark.
And now, easy to miss, a bit aside, hidden in the corner… I found a “secret garden”. It is real name is the Garden of Prince George (Prinz Georgs Garden). In front of the gate there are some flowers that brought me towards that place. The beautiful entrance shows just a bit of what to expect inside. In the back of a garden there a palace decorated with painted flowers. I can only imagine how pretty it is in summer if already in February looked so nice. Just next to it there is also the Porcelain Museum. Another lovely building in pastel colours.
St. Elisabeth’s church and Waldspirale
Going outside the park we also pass St. Elisabeth’s church. From here we will move towards our next point – Waldspirale. Let’s just walk straight Mollerstr., cross Rhoenring (one of main streets) and once we reach Büdinger Straße we turn right. However, the best view to the building is from the front at Friedberger Str.
Waldspirale (Wood Spiral) is a house, definitely not the ordinary one. It looks like a mixture of a palace, hobbit house and rainbow cake. Designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and finished in 2000. It has 105 flats, a playground and little pond with ducks. The colourful walls are in shapes of waves. It has funny windows of irregular shapes and every single one is different. Entrance to each part is decorated with ceramic columns. At the top there are shiny golden onion domes. And what is most exciting is that the roof is covered with grass and trees. I can’t say it is pretty, but definitely interesting and worth seeing.
Mathildenhöhe and Rosenhöhe
After the visit to this unusual place we can either take a bus or walk a bit further, because our next stop is the Mathildenhöhe. The easiest way is to follow the Rhoenring, but it might be loud because of cars. I recommend talking some little streets in the Martinsviertel instead.
Mathildenhöhe is a place of Darmstadt Artists’ Colony. Ideal for people interested in art. There is the Artists’ Colony Museum, Russian Chapel, Wedding Tower. Everything situated on a hill with a nice view to the city. It is also nice place to have a sit under platanes and contemplate art.
From here we walk along the Olbrichweg and through the Lion Gate (Löwentor) we enter a beautiful park. In its centre there is the Rosenhöhe garden. Obviously at the moment, there aren’t any flowers yet. But there were my favourite plants of this season – Hydrangea serrata. The design of this garden is very promising, so definitely I need to come back there when it is warmer.
From that last place we go down the hill back to Ostbahnhof. From here we can easily come back to the city center or main railway station.
During my trip I managed to change the view of Darmstadt in my mind – from the grey and ugly to the one full of gardens and pastel painted houses. I find it also very quiet and calm. I hope you enjoyed the walk. Let me know if you did and if you found other inspiring places in this city.
Below you find a photo gallery for a virtual tour around the city.