Gießen is a small university town and perfect for travelers looking for a taste of local German life. The city began as a humble settlement where modern day Wieseck is, but expanded into current day Gießen after Count Wilhelm von Gleiberg built a moated castle in the 12th Century. Although Giessen may not be the first destination travellers to Germany will think to visit, this picturesque town has plenty to explore. With a widespread university campus, students generate a life and soul that is reflected in a varied nightlife, and with a backdrop of outstanding architecture, is pleasant to wander around at any time of the day. To find a tranquil spot, seek out the city’s botanical gardens, where a stroll through the idyllic surroundings exploring the local flora is a gentle activity that allows you to soak up Gießen’s laid-back atmosphere.
Location: On the banks of the Lahn River
Gießen is located in the federal state of Hessen, and is the capital city of the Gießen district. The town is surrounded by a wealth of lakes and rivers, with a largest of the region, river Lahn, dividing the city in two. The nearest international airport is Frankfurt, 35 miles away, but a good network of roads and rail lines make an easy passage for travelers.
Culture: Exploring the extensive university campus
An academic city, the town is centered around its student population, but that is not to say that visitors are not welcome to explore the fascinating university campus. Founded in 1607, the university is one of the oldest in Europe and has department buildings dotted throughout the town. Those interested in local history may enjoy visiting the Old Cemetery, where you find the gravestones of former prominent residents, including German physicist and discoverer of the x-rays Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. The city is home to several interesting museums, too. Math and science lovers will enjoy the Mathematikum, which caters for families with young children who can appreciate the learning experience by playing with the hands-on experiments. At the Liebig Museum, visitors can explore the work of Justus Liebig, German chemist and founder of the University of Giessen.
Activities: Historic botanical gardens
The town is home to two beautiful botanical gardens. The first is the Akademischer Forstgarten Giessen, a gorgeous location for a sunny afternoon stroll. The second is the Botanischer Garten Giessen, part of the University complex and the oldest botanical garden in Germany. A popular attraction among locals and tourists alike is the Elefantenklo, or elephant’s toilet. This interesting architectural site is a walkway overpass that has three large octagon-shaped holes. If you understand German, why not catch as a show at the Keller Theater, a one-time Officer’s Club for the army.