Wiesbaden – The Nice of the North

Wiesbaden Kurhaus

Written by Alexander Kuntic – Exchange student from Germany

Hi, my name is Alex.  I am from Germany and am currently doing a work experience placement at Wallace Arnold Worldchoice. My hometown Wiesbaden is one of the nicest cities in Germany, so I would like to tell you a little bit about it.

Wiesbaden, the capital of the German federal state Hesse, was initially founded by the Romans who built a settlement called Aquae Mattiacorum there in the first century. The city contains 15 hot springs and is therefore known as a Spa town and has several hot baths attracting a lot of visitors. Wiesbaden’s modern name (“meadow baths”) also references this. Because of its warm climate the town is also often called the “Nice of the North”.

Wiesbaden is located at the river Rhine and lies directly opposite of Mainz, the capital of the adjoining federal state Rhineland Palatinate. Since the two cities are only separated by a river they have a centuries-old rivalry with each one jokingly calling the other “the bad side of the Rhine”.

The metropolitan town is very well known for its historicist architecture and its lots of noble private mansions.

The Kurhaus (“cure house”) is Wiesbaden’s social centre and hosts several events throughout the year such as the Ball of Wine or the New Year Party. It was built in 1907 and contains two halls as well as a Casino (the Wiesbadener Spielbank) and a Restaurant. Surrounded by a beautiful English-Style park, the building is well known for its glamorous, neoclassical architecture and interior design.
Next to the Kurhaus is the equally impressive State Theatre of Hesse, which was built in 1894 in a Baroque Revival Style and hosts a great variety of plays and operas, both classic and modern.

Wiesbaden-Market-Church-editedA very important place in Wiesbaden is the Palace Square. Located in the centre of the historic pentagon-shaped Old Town of Wiesbaden, it serves as a market place and the annual Christmas Market of Wiesbaden, the Sternschnuppen-Markt (“Shooting Star Market”), also takes place there. The square is surrounded by several historic buildings: the old and the new town hall of Wiesbaden (finished in 1610 and 1887 respectively), the protestant church Marktkirche (“Market Church”), a striking neo Gothic brick building with five towers built between 1853 and 1862, and the splendid neoclassical Wiesbaden City Palace. Constructed between 1837 and 1841, the former residency of the Ducal Family of Nassau today houses the Parliament of the State of Hesse.

The 80 meter long defensive wall Heidenmauer (“Heathen Wall”) was constructed around 370 AD and is one of the few remainders from the Romans in Wiesbaden.

Another building worth a visit is the Biebrich Palace, a beautiful Baroque Palace built by the Duke of Nassau between 1702 and 1750, with its surrounding big English Landscape garden that contains a Lake as well as a decorative medieval ruin. It is sometimes referred to as the “Versailles of the Rhine” because of its architectural similarities to the French palace.

Wiesbaden Biebrich Palace

But apart from its outstanding architecture Wiesbaden has a lot more to offer.

If you would like to go shopping, there are plenty of opportunities in Wiesbaden as well. The pedestrian zone in the city of Wiesbaden has a lot of different shops for all ages. We also have two big shopping centres: the Lilien-Carre opened in 2007 and the Luisenforum opened in 2008. Apart from that there is also the shopping street Wilhelmstrasse, which host a lot of very elegant (and very expensive) shops. Due to its posh image the street is also often called “the Rue” in reference to the French word for “street” by the citizens of Wiesbaden.

Are you interested in arts? The Hessian state museum comprises a great collection of classic and modern art and is therefore great for all art lovers. The museum’s collection contains among others a great number of paintings by Russian expressionist artist Alexej Jawlensky.

Rheingau

If you appreciate a good wine, you should pay a visit to the Rheingau, an adjacent wine growing region in the Rhine Valley made up of many little villages. The region is not only known for its great wine but also for its beautiful landscape and picturesque architecture. A lot of vintners there have their own family-run restaurants where they sell their own wine and traditional Hessian meals. Famous German writer and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited the Rheingau in the 19th century and was overwhelmed by the nature and the unique atmosphere of the Rhine Valley with all of its little medieval castles scattered along the river that give the area a romantic and enchanted ambience.

The Schloss Freudenberg (“Freudenberg Mansion”), a former private mansion built in 1907 with a big surrounding park, hosts an interactive sensory museum, where people can try out lots of different experiments that stimulate the senses such as a barefoot path or a blind café. Not only is it great fun for children but it is also a very interesting for adults.

Wiesbaden Russian Church

You also do not want to miss out on the Neroberg. This hill in the outskirts of Wiesbaden has a lot to offer: the best way to get to its top is by using the Nerobergbahn, a historical funicular railway that works with water and has not changed its technique since its opening in 1888. But there is even more to see up on the hill as there is a viewing platform that gives you a great panorama view of Wiesbaden and also a memorial for soldiers that died during WWI.
Moreover there is also a Monopteros, a café and a little amphitheatre were improvisational theatre festivals are hosted during the summer. Those who prefer a bit more action can also visit the Kletterwald Neroberg, a ropes course integrated into the forest, or the Opelbad, an open-air swimming pool with a great view over Wiesbaden and a very good restaurant.
Last but not least, there is also the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Elizabeth with an impressing interior and exterior architecture. In Memorial of his wife, a Russian princess who died during the birth of her daughter, the Duke of Nassau had this church built around her grave between 1847 and 1855. Although still used for church service by the Russian community of Wiesbaden, the church can also be visited by tourists.

But not only does Wiesbaden offer you a diverse daytime program, it also affords lots of opportunities for the night owls and party people among us. There are several good nightclubs such as the Cantina and the Gestut Renz. While Clubs such as the Alibi or the Euro Palace are very popular among young people, the Imperial in Mainz is also very enjoyable for those who are already over 30.

One of my favourite places is probably the cultural centre Schlachthof (“slaughterhouse”). Built on the site of the former municipal abattoir of Wiesbaden, it is very popular for being a meeting place for graffiti artists and also contains several lawns as well as a skateboard ground and a volleyball court. There is also a big hall that serves as a venue for a lot of rock, metal, indie and punk concerts, music parties and poetry slams. Moreover the Schlachthof also hosts the popular 3-day outdoor music festival Folklore im Garten every year on the last weekend of August.

Wiesbaden is a great multifaceted city that offers something for everyone. Therefore it is definitely worth a visit!

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