Map of Germany showing Darmstadt
Map of Germany showing Darmstadt

Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland (federal state) of Hessen in Germany. Its population is estimated (2003) at 137,900. The city is located to the south of the conjoined metropolitan areas of Frankfurt and Wiesbaden.



Darmstadt was first mentioned towards the end of the 11th century, then Darmundestat; Darmstadt was chartered as a city by the Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in 1330. The seat of the ruling landgraves (1567-1806) and thereafter (to 1918) grand dukes of the state of Hessen-Darmstadt, the city grew in population during the 19th century from little over 10,000 to 72,000 inhabitants. A Technical University was established in 1877.

In the begin of the 20th Century Darmstadt was an important centre for the art movement of Jugendstil, the German variant of Art Nouveau. Annual architectural competitions led to the building of many architectural treasures of this period. Surviving examples include the Rosenhöhe, the Mathildenhöhe with the Hochzeitsturm [Marriage tower], commonly known as the Five-Finger-Tower, the Russian Chapel and large exhibition halls as well as many private villas built by Jugendstil architects who had settled in Darmstadt. The Russian Chapel was built as a private chapel for the last Tzar of Russia.

Darmstadt's municipal area was extended in 1937 to include the neighbouring localities of Arheilgen [not Arheiligen] and Eberstadt, and in 1938 the city was separated administratively from the surrounding district (Kreis). Its old city centre was largely destroyed in a British bombing raid of September 11th 1944, which killed an estimated 11,000 inhabitants and rendered many more homeless. Most of Darmstadt's 3000 Jews were killed by the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945.

In more modern times, Darmstadt is notable for its summer courses in contemporary classical music. They were founded as the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik by Wolfgang Steinecke, and ran first annually, then bi-anually. A large number of avant-garde composers have given lectures there, including Olivier Messiaen, Luciano Berio, Milton Babbitt, Pierre Boulez, John Cage, György Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel.


Darmstadt is twinned with:

People born in Darmstadt

Darmstadt was the birthplace of Alexandra of Hessen, last Tsarina of Russia, and the pioneering organic chemist Justus von Liebig.


Missing image
Darmstadt, Market Square around 1900

The palace of Darmstadt is located in the centre. It was the residence of the counts of Hesse-Darmstadt, Grand Dukes of Hesse by the grace of Napoleon. Its current look was established in the 18th century. The counts also owned a castle on the Langenberg above the city. This castle dates back to the 13th century, but it was acquired by the counts of Hessen-Darmstadt in 1662. The name of the castle is Frankenstein. Mary Shelley probably adopted the name for her novel Frankenstein; before writing the story she had travelled through the region and visited Eberstadt (today a borough of Darmstadt), so the castle could have given her the inspiration.

The Luisenplatz, the largest square of the city forms the centre of the town Today, it is surrounded by modern buildings. In 1844 the Ludwigsäule (called Langer Lui, meaning Long Ludwig) a 33 m column commemorating Ludwig I, the first Grand Duke of Hessen was placed in the middle. The other large square is the Marktplatz ("market square", see image) with the town hall; it was restored in 1996 to regain the look that it had prior to World War II.


Darmstadt is the site of one of the leading German universities, the Darmstadt University of Technology, renowned especially for its engineering departments. Related institutes are the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung and the three Institutes of the Fraunhofer Society. The European Space Operations Center (ESOC) of the European Space Agency is located in Darmstadt, as is the headquarters of EUMETSAT, that handles the Meteosat system of geostationary meteorological satellites and also monitors data relating to global climate changes. Darmstadt is a centre for the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, with Merck and Röhm having their main plants and centres here.

In 1997 Darmstadt was officially given the epithet Wissenschaftsstadt ("city of sciences").

The chemical element Darmstadtium, first discovered at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung is named after the city since 2003, making Darmstadt only the fourth city with an element named after it (the other three are Ytterby, Sweden, Berkeley, California, and Dubna, Russia).

The Jazz-Institut Darmstadt (http://www.jazzinstitut.de) is Germany's largest publically accessible Jazz Archive.

The Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (http://www.imd.darmstadt.de/), harboring one of the world's largest collections of post-war sheet music, also hosts the biannual summer school Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik.

Writers and scholars cultivating and doing research on the German language are associated at the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung (http://www.deutscheakademie.de/) (German Academy for Language and Poetry). The Academy's annual Georg-Büchner-Preis, named in memory of Georg Büchner, is considered the most renowned literary award for writers of German language.

Literally translated the German name "Darmstadt" means "City of the intestine". But that is just an unfortunate coincidence, as the name derives from the medieval name "darmundestat", meaning "Place at the mouth of the Darmbach", the Darmbach being a small creek running through the city and flowing into the Modau, a small confluence of the river Rhine.

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