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Things to do in and around Darmstadt

For good reason do we schedule the marathon for the first weekend in July. This is the time when the Heiners (how the inhabitants of Darmstadt are nicknamed) celebrate their Heinerfest. Lots of attractions, live music and bratwurst guarantee fun for every visitor. And there are a lot: With more than 700 000 guests, the Heinerfest ranks among the largest inner city festivals in Germany. Fireworks on Monday night form the grand finale.

Darmstadt's residental palace is located in the city centre. If you're a female fencer and have Saturday off (Men's Epee is on Saturday), pay a visit to the "Langer Ludwig", a statue on top of large sandstone column, not far from the palace. The monument is open every first Saturday in the month, and once you climbed the 33 m spiral staircase, you will be rewarded with a nice view over the city (and it's good excercise for Sunday).

MathildenhöheMathildenhöhe (Photo: Institut Mathildenhöhe)
Darmstadt is famous for its many Jugendstil (art nouveau) buildings. Some examples include the Mathildenhöhe with Darmstadt's landmark and one of its most prominent structures: the Hochzeitsturm (Wedding tower). The tower was built in 1905 to commemorate the wedding of Alix, Princess of Darmstadt and later Czarina Alexandra with Russian Czar Nicholas II. The close-by russian chapel was built on imported Russian soil for the same occasion.

One hundred years later, but with no lesser artistic claims, Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser constructed the "Waldspirale" (Forest Spiral) - his last work before his death. Incorporating many natural, colourful and even fantastic features (like his famous onion shaped domes), the artist created a house that looks as if taken from a fairy tale. No two windows are the same, not a single wall is straight.

Space scientists and hobby astronoms alike will be fascinated by a visit to the European Space Operations Centre. Most of Europe's satellites are controlled there. Please check for information about visiting on the ESA webpage.

If you bring enough time, schedule a visit to Frankenstein Castle. The castle, once of considerable dimensions, is located south of the city at the gates to the Odenwald. With its elevation of 350m, it offers nice views over the Rhine valley. On clear days, you might see as distant towns as Worms, Mainz and Frankfurt. Many myths and legends are told about this castle and inspired English writer Mary Shelly to her famous novel that made the name Frankenstein known everywhere around the world.

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