Central Hesse

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The Central Hesse region

The Central Hesse region is (along with North and South Hesse ) one of three planning regions in Hesse . Its area is identical to the administrative district of Gießen and includes the districts of Limburg-Weilburg , Lahn-Dill , Gießen , Marburg-Biedenkopf and the Vogelsbergkreis . The Central Hesse regional assembly decides on the preparation of the regional plan. It currently consists of 31 members, who are determined by the five districts and the three special status cities of Giessen , Marburg and Wetzlar . The regional assembly commissioned the district president to set up a regional management . The regional management association MitteHessen was founded on January 22nd, 2003.

Geology and geography

Lumda plateau - view of Bernsfeld

Geomorphologically, Central Hesse is a mixture of mountain and valley landscapes shaped by former volcanism. The Lahn valley with the Oberem Lahntal , Marburg-Gießener Lahntal , Weilburger Lahntalgebiet and Limburg Basin divides the region centrally. Of the higher low mountain ranges on both sides of the river valley, only the Vogelsberg (left the Lahn) and the Gladenbacher Bergland (right the Lahn) with the Bottenhorn plateaus lie completely in Central Hesse, while from the Taunus only the north of the eastern Hintertaunus , from the Westerwald the east to the (south) east roofing on cold oak (with Haincher Höhe) and bagpipe are taken up approximately to the center of gravity and from the Rothaargebirge .

Bottenhorn plateaus in the Gladenbacher Bergland , between 480 m and 500 m above sea level. NN
Geological map of Central Hesse

The west of Central Hesse belongs to the Rhenish Slate Mountains and is therefore the oldest part (formation in the Paleozoic, around 300 to 500 million years ago). This initially shriveled mountain range rose again in the Alpidic folding and then formed the morphology that is still visible today: the volcanic rocks of the Westerwald and the fragmentation by the rivers Lahn and Dill with raised ( Dill-Mulde ) and in the Tertiary period partially collapsed plaice such as Limburg Pool. The loess deposits and the availability of water in this area resulted in a very early settlement.

The southern part of the Central Hessian Slate Mountains is occupied by the Hintertaunus , to the north of the Lahn are the tertiary volcanic mountains of the Westerwald and, directly to the east, the Gladenbacher Bergland. The red iron deposits of the Lahn-Dill area , which occupies the west of the last -mentioned supernatural area and which were the prerequisite for the early onset of iron and non-ferrous metal extraction, owe their origin to the submarine volcanism in the Upper Devonian . The kaolin-rich clays from limnic-terrestrial sediments originated from the deposits of an ancient sea that covered almost all of Germany at the time. They form the raw material basis for the early regional pottery and brick making industry. Attempts were made again and again to mine the central Hessian lignite deposits; the use of the mineral springs from this time, for example in the Löhnberg basin or in Selters, is still more successful today.

In the east, the West Hessian mountainous region , which extends to the West Hessian Depression , adjoins the Slate Mountains. During the Mesozoic Era, around 140 to 200 million years ago, the depression filled with sediment sequences. In the highlands west of the valley, the red sandstone with a thickness of up to 1,000 m is particularly noteworthy , a water-permeable and therefore unsettled rock that characterizes the castle forest , but also the Marburg Ridge , the Lahn Mountains and the northern part of the Upper Hessian threshold .

The low mountain range of the Vogelsberg in the east of Central Hesse with a basalt area of ​​2,500 km² is the largest closed volcanic mountain range in Europe. For a long time the lavas have spread in tabular form, the basalt thickness is up to 300 meters.

In the center of Central Hesse there are several basins that are part of the Mediterranean-Mjosen-Graben (European rift zone ): In the south, the foothills of the Wetterau protrude into the region, the Giessen basin and, behind the Vorderen Vogelsberg , the Amöneburger , close Basin on.


Vogelsberg in winter

The hardships of the Rhenish Slate Mountains like the Sackpfeife (mountain) (674 m), the Angelburg (mountain) (609 m), the Dünsberg (498 m), Rimberg (498 m) and the basalt peaks Amöneburg , Stoppelberg (402 m) shape the landscape. in the north of the eastern Hintertaunus or the Gleiberg . The most important mountains of the central Hessian part of the Westerwald are the Höllberg (643 m), Auf der Baar (618 m) and the knot (605 m). The most important mountains in Central Hesse's eastern part of the Hintertaunus are the Kuhbett (526 m) and the Hesselberg (518 m). the Steinkopf (518 m). The highest elevation in Central Hesse is the baptismal font in the Vogelsberg in the east of the region with a height of 773 meters.


Rivers in Central Hesse
The Lahn valley near Runkel

The river valleys, especially the Lahn and Dill , sometimes form deep cuts in the landscape and represent historically important connecting lines that had a major influence on urban and economic development. Numerous deposits in the basement are cut into the roughly 250 meter deep indentation in the Dill Valley . Larger tributaries of the Lahn in Central Hesse are u. a. the Dill, the Ohm and the Weil and the Emsbach .

The Rhine-Weser watershed runs across the Vogelsberg from southeast to northwest . The rivers, which arise in the northern and eastern Vogelsberg, drain over the Fulda into the Weser . These include the Schwalm and Drift , the Lüder and the Schlitz .

The Wetter, on the other hand, as a tributary of the Nidda, is already part of the Main's catchment area .


The climatic conditions are characterized on the one hand by a border character from the maritime to the continental climate type, on the other hand by the many small-scale variants caused by the low mountain ranges. In Hessen there are both west-east and north-south climatic differences, the transition area of ​​which is central Hesse. Generalizations are therefore difficult, there is no independent Central Hessian climate.

Climate diagram of Giessen

The morphological structure of the region is contrary to the main wind direction (usually west from the Atlantic to the mainland). The air masses in the Rhenish Slate Mountains are forced to rise and cool there, which leads to precipitation. Central Hesse is located in the slipstream of the slate mountains, which act like a protective shield, thus has more continental climatic conditions and significantly lower rainfall. This is particularly important in western locations; in the case of northern locations, on the other hand, ingress of cold air can easily penetrate through the opening of the West Hessian Depression of North Hesse . The Vogelsberg prevents the air masses from penetrating and represents an important climate divide in the north-south profile : it favors the climate south of the low mountain range.

In general, the low mountain ranges in the west are rich in precipitation , in the high altitudes the annual precipitation is over 1000 mm on a long-term average. To the east, but also in the Limburg Basin, the precipitation decreases rapidly, in the area of ​​the central Lahn it is between 600 and 650 mm per year. The barrier of the up to 600 m high Vogelsberg forces the air masses to rain down again, the annual rainfall reaches values ​​of 1200 mm in the summit locations.

The mean air temperature values ​​are comparatively moderate: in January they fluctuate between −3 (Vogelsberg) and +1 ° C (Limburg Basin), in July between 15 (Vogelsberg) and 19 ° C (northern Wetterau). The temperatures are influenced by the morphology of Central Hesse: the higher the location, the colder the average temperature. The closed basin areas, however, reverse this in winter, as the cold air collects in them: they are characterized by radiation mist and smog - endangered. The average duration of sunshine is therefore higher on the edge of the pool.

Expansion and delimitation of the region

A boundary stone in Central Hesse on the former border between Hessen-Darmstadt and Orange-Nassau

Central Hesse, as an administrative structure created in 1981, is formally delimited by the five districts belonging to the administrative district. The affiliation of the people, on the other hand, is also characterized by the centuries-long orientation towards the neighboring regions dominated by strong centers: While the western Limburg-Weilburg area, due to its former affiliation to Nassau , is oriented towards the Rhine-Main area and earlier to Wiesbaden , the population in the Marburg area is oriented towards the regional center there and towards Gießen and Kassel, as does the population of the Hessian hinterland . The residents of the Dill region orient themselves towards the Wetzlar area. In the eastern Vogelsberg there are close ties to the Fulda area ( East Hesse ), whereas the northern parts of the Wetterau, according to their affiliation to the former Hesse-Darmstadt province of Upper Hesse, are more oriented towards Gießen than in the southern conurbation of the Rhine-Main area.


In contrast to the administrative districts of Kassel, Wiesbaden and Darmstadt, Central Hesse as today's region does not have its own historical tradition. For this reason, regional history is more complex in terms of territorial history than in North and South Hesse.

Prehistory and early history

Celtic ring wall on the Dünsberg

The Lahnhöhen were already settled in the Wetzlar region, for example, in the Paleolithic Age. Due to the favorable climate, people stayed there even in the Worm Ice Age around 50,000 years ago.

The most recent extensive excavations along the Lahn in Wetzlar-Dalheim have produced larger, 7,000-year-old remains of a ceramic band culture . The excavations further prove Germanic origins for the settlement that followed. It existed around the turn of the century and was inhabited for around 1,400 years. Iron extraction and processing has a 2,500-year tradition in and around Wetzlar.

In the Central Hessian area there are numerous traces of Celtic settlement u. a. Ringwallanlage Daubhaus , Angelburg (Berg) , Ringwall Hünstein , Ringwallanlage Rimberg , Christenberg , Lützelburg , Ringwallburg Heunstein , Ringwall Rittershausen and Amöneburg , which have not yet been or only insufficiently investigated. There were three Celtic settlements in the district of Wetzlar. The best known is the Celtic oppidum on the Dünsberg , located approx. 10 km northwest of Gießen and approx. 12 km northeast of Wetzlar .

In the 1st century BC Elbe-Germanic population groups ( Suebi ? / Landoudioer ?) Immigrated and settled together with the Celts in the Central Hessian area. Whether this new group became part of the Chatten tribe or whether the Chattens from their home country around Fritzlar and Kassel spread to the south and south-west has not yet been conclusively clarified. Chatters settled in the south as far as the Giessen basin.

At Niederweimar (south of Marburg), excavations under thick layers of alluvial clay on the Lahn revealed clear indications of uninterrupted settlement from the Neolithic to the Latène period and into the early Roman Empire . The ceramic shows u. a. a style in which Celtic influences were combined with the Germanic style of form and decoration that was shaped in the east.

Course of the Limes through what is now Central Hesse


A Roman network of roads around Wetzlar was in place early on. Further Roman finds in Waldgirmes document a civil Roman settlement under construction, in Dorlar and Niederweimar there were Roman military camps. Attempts by the Roman emperors to subdue the Chattas failed and the Rhine became the border of the Roman Empire. After the Chat War of 83 to 86 AD, Emperor Domitian had the Limes in Upper Germany laid out as a border line. In a bend to the north, it enclosed the Wetterau as a granary for the Romans (today known as Wetterau-Limes ); Its course and (reconstructed) remains of forts are visible in the landscape to this day . The largest part of Central Hesse was free Germania inhabited by the Chatti, from where the Germanic peoples started their attacks in 259/260 and crossed the well-guarded border with their watchtowers and forts. As a result, from the 3rd to the 5th century Alamanni settled between Taunus and Vogelsberg, which from the 4th century were penetrated / displaced by the Franks from the west .

St. Lubentius Church in Dietkirchen

middle Ages

With the Franks, Christianity also came to Central Hesse, where Irish-Scottish monks had been proselytizing since the 7th century. The centers of this pre-bonifatic mission were Fulda , Büraberg , Amöneburg , Schotten , Wetter , the Giessen basin and the Wetterau . Boniface therefore met Chatten (Hesse) who were already more or less converted. The Romanesque church in Limburg-Dietkirchen was one of the first centers to the right of the Rhine after the Roman church reformation by Bonifatius, who also founded the diocese of Mainz .

The Diocese of Trier expanded its area of ​​influence from the mouth of the Lahn via Wetzlar up the Dill , the Diocese of Mainz pushed into the same area from the Giessen basin and from the east (Amöneburg). The victory up over the Lahn source also reached the Archdiocese of Cologne into the upper Lahn valley to Biedenkopf. The dioceses of Mainz and Trier met in their endeavors to gain influence and power in the region and set their borders (e.g. the Trier / Mainz border ran through what is now the municipality of Bad Endbach ).

The Franconians used the name Lahngau for the area southeast of the Rothaargebirge, east of the Westerwald and north of the Taunus , an area that is almost congruent with today's Central Hesse. North-east of the Lahngau joined the Hessengau , whose southern border later coincided with the Untergau Perfgau and the Zent Dautphe . The border of the Hessengau was probably moved in the course of the clashes with the Saxons from the Lützler Mountains (Eder / Lahn watershed) south to the Angelburg (mountain) on the Gansbach, Perf, Allna watershed to Siegbach and Salzböde. There is no other way to explain the contradicting information about property and rights. Interestingly, both borders followed two formerly important, east-west running long-distance routes, namely the “Thief's Path” or “Salt Path” on the Lützler Mountains and the Cologne-Leipzig long-distance trade road, also known as “ Brabanter Straße ”, which come from Marburg over the Bottenhorn plateau moved on past the fishing castle in the direction of Siegen.

Under the Carolingian monarchy, the Lahngau was divided into two districts: the Oberlahngau and the Niederlahngau , the border of which ran roughly on the watershed between Solmsbach and Weil.

Ancient long-distance routes have always met here, such as the strategically important Weinstrasse (Wagenstrasse) from Mainz and Frankfurt, which led through Wetzlar and west of Marburg to Paderborn. The Hohe Strasse from Frankfurt led via Wetzlar to Cologne and Antwerp . At the transition of the Ohm in the Amöneburg Basin, the Long Hessians met the important east-west connection coming from Brabant (Belgium) via Cologne , Siegen , Angelburg (Berg) , Gladenbach and Marburg , the Cologne-Leipziger-Straße (Brabanter Straße).

To protect against the Saxons , the Franks built large castles on the Amöneburg basalt cone and on the Christenberg at the end of the 7th century .

Rulers and domains in the Middle Ages

Rupertiner and Konradiner

After the Frankish conquest of the land , the Carolingian nobles from Lorraine, z. B. the Rupertines , as administrators in the right bank of the Rhine. They drew their power from their position as counts with imperial property. Their successors are the Lorraine Conradines . We find them in the 8th century as bailiffs of the Lorsch and Fulda possessions in the Lahn area. They were responsible for administration, jurisdiction and army formation. They were able to steadily expand their territory. Konrad I was King of Eastern France from 911 to 918 . The Konradines ruled over the Hessengau and the Lahngau .

King Konrad I from Weilburg

Their work is traceable to this day through their church foundations. Some of these goods passed into their hands. They used these to equip the Conradin Walpurgis Abbey in Weilburg . After the confiscation by the empire in 993, the later emperor Otto III. the entire Konradine property to the Hochstift Worms , and thus also the former Lorsch and Fulda bailiwick property.

For example, the Wetzlar traffic junction became an ecclesiastical and thus a manorial center through the establishment of a Canon 914/15 foundation. The Count of Niederlahngauer had his seat in Limburg , where the St. Georg monastery was built next to the castle. The castle in Weilburg , where Konrad the Elder , the king's father, was buried in 906, was just as exposed . In the 10th century, after a rebellion against King Otto I , the rule of the Konradines slowly began to dissolve in 939, and in 1036 the Konradines died out.

Different rulers

After eventful years under different rulers (official counts appointed by the respective king), the Counts Werner von Neckarau-Grüningen- Maden , beginning with Werner I , were able to build on the time of the Conradines under the kingship of the Salians . In 955 they can be proven as bailiffs in Perfgau. In 1103 Werner IV was Vogt of the cathedral monastery in Worms. But he was only able to hold the lands partially. With his death in 1121 substantial parts came to the Archbishopric Mainz . The worms' fiefs on the lower Lahn went into the hands of the Counts of Laurenburg , who have called themselves Counts of Nassau after their castle since 1160 .

The Gleiberg dynasts received part of the imperial fiefdom . This important family of counts descended from Friedrich von Luxemburg and came to Central Hesse through marriage with a Conradin heir daughter. Friedrich's sister was the wife of Emperor Heinrich II. (1002-1024). When the Gleiberg-Luxemburg line died out, it was inherited by the Count Palatine of Tübingen , the Lords of Merenberg and the Counts of Solms . The county of Gleiberg was divided in 1104. The western part came partly to the Merenbergs and partly to the Counts of Solms. In the northern area of ​​the county of Solms, the Speyer Church had extensive property. The eastern part of the county fell to the Count Palatine of Tübingen. After Count Werner died out in 1121, the Merenberg family, who meanwhile resided at Gleiberg Castle, received the County of Ruchesloh . It was probably a sub-county and formerly included an area that reached from the Amöneburg Basin to the upper Salzbödetal.

The Hessian county Maden in Hessengau with the castle Gudensberg came from the Count Werner to the Gisonen (family castle Hollende west of Wetter ). This sex, with close ties to the royal family, was also exercised by the imperial bailiwick over a large area that stretched from the Burgwald north of Marburg to the Westerwald . They were also bailiffs of the Wetter Monastery.

The city of Wetzlar , separated from the "rest" of Hesse, was a free imperial city from 1180 to 1806 .

The landgraves

The Counts of Thuringia (since 1137 Landgraves) inherited the Gisonen through marriage after they died out and thereby also received suzerainty over the area around and west of Marburg. This area, like the entire county of Hesse, was initially only viewed and treated as a secondary area by the landgraves. The new acquisition included u. a. the feudal sovereignty over the Westerwald, the Herborner Mark , the Haigerer Mark , the Kalenberger Zent , the rule to the Westerwald , the court Löhnberg with numerous own estates up to Koblenz over the Engersgau, into the Bergisch and Siegerland. The Landgraves of Thuringia did not combine these widespread rights and possessions to form a nationwide association, since their main interest apparently lay elsewhere. You lent parts on, so u. a. also in 1231 to the Counts of Nassau, who a. the Herborner Mark and the Haigerer Mark received. Previously, the landgraves had passed on the bailiwick rights to which they were entitled from the Gisonenerbe over their Hessian property to the counts of Nassau. The bailiwick over the entire Worms property ( Hochstift Worms ) in Hesse was connected with it. a. the Walpurgis pen in Weilburg . The Nassau House owes its largest possessions and rights in the new sphere of influence of the Landgraves west of Marburg to these bailiwick rights.

Elisabeth of Thuringia in the Marburg Elisabeth Church

In 1247 the Ludowinger Landgraves of Thuringia died out with Heinrich Raspe in the male line. From the marriage of Ludwig IV. († 1227) and Elisabeth of Hungary, the two daughters Gertrud and Sophie emerged, who were now heiresses. Elisabeth (1207–1231) was canonized in 1336 and went down in history as "Saint Elisabeth". The younger daughter Gertrud became abbess of the imperial monastery Altenberg near Wetzlar in 1248 . Sophie had married the widower Duke Heinrich II of Brabant and Lower Lorraine (* 1207, † 1248). They had a son, Heinrich (* 1244), who as Landgrave Heinrich I of Hesse became the progenitor of all Hessian rulers.

Sophie of Brabant

Fight for supremacy, Hessen versus Nassau

In this situation, the Archbishop of Mainz Siegfried III tried . as overlord, his Hessian fiefdoms and possessions, especially the county of Hesse itself, to be drawn in after the Ludowingians died out and to form a closed territory. The Duke of Brabant immediately showed his presence, moved to Marburg and also took on the title of Landgrave of Hesse in order to secure the Hessian inheritance for his son Heinrich. He returned to Brabant and died on February 1, 1248. His 24-year-old widow, the Duchess Sophie von Brabant , immediately took over the reign for her son, who was still underage, and paid homage to Marburg. Many members of the local nobility and the Teutonic Order in Marburg stood by her side as valuable allies .

With the backing of the Archbishop of Mainz , the Counts of Nassau refused to take the feudal oath of the "Frau von Hessen". The feud that had been smoldering since 1230 with the up-and-coming Counts of Nassau and the local nobility entered a new stage. In particular, it was about the rule over the "Herborner Mark" and the supremacy in the east bordering area. Fierce battles with initially varying successes between the archbishopric and the Counts of Nassau on the one hand and the landgrave with the local nobility on the other continued until 1333.

Wall of the Innenheege, section of the Central Hessian Landheege near Bad Endbach- Wommelshausen

This dispute went down in history as the “100-year-old Dernbach feud ” (named after the knight dynasty 'von Dernbach' who bore the brunt), which ended in 1336 with a settlement. The border was then secured with the Landheege (from the municipality of Bad Endbach to the Lahn, south of Fronhausen) . Hesse withdrew from the Dill region, Nassau had prevailed there and made the Dillenburg the seat of the Nassau-Dillenburg branch line . This also established a connection to their property in Siegerland.

In 1263 the landgrave achieved a great success. The archbishopric had to recognize the new landgrave from the House of Brabant in the Langsdorf Treaty and leave him his rights and possessions. In 1265 Heinrich was able to acquire part of the county of Gleiberg with Gießen from the Count Palatine of Tübingen. In 1277 he made Kassel his residence instead of Marburg and from then on called himself Landgrave of Hesse . In the Battle of Fritzlar in 1280 he decisively defeated the Archbishop of Mainz. King Adolf of Nassau raised Heinrich to the rank of imperial prince on May 12, 1292. The landgraves were thus ranked on an equal footing with the dukes.

The feuds and trades continued, even after the settlement of 1336 with Nassau. The disputes with the Archbishopric of Mainz and Nassau were not finally closed until the Peace of Frankfurt (1427). With the end of these disputes, the over 80 years of the Katzenelnbog succession dispute, the Augsburg Religious Peace of 1555 also established the boundaries in this area between the County of Nassau-Dillenburg and the Landgraviate of Hesse , which lasted until 1866.

Schiffenberg monastery church

Meanwhile, the Gleiberger Grafschaft emerged on the middle Lahn with Gleiberg Castle as its center. This was conquered and destroyed by King Heinrich V in 1103 . The now widowed Countess Clementia von Gleiberg founded an Augustinian canon monastery on the Schiffenberg in 1129, which from 1265 was administered by the Landgraves of Hesse as bailiffs. The county was divided: The eastern half secured by the moated castle Gießen went to the Count Palatine of Tübingen, who also founded the city in 1248, but handed the area over to Landgrave Heinrich von Hessen in 1264/65. The western half came with the bailiwick via Wetzlar to the Lords of Merenberg and after their extinction in 1328 to the Counts of Nassau-Weilburg via succession. In between, the Counts of Solms were able to assert themselves and assert their territory against all challenges. In 1585, Hesse was able to buy the area around Rodheim.

New story

At the death of Landgrave Philipp (1567), who founded the first Protestant university in Marburg in 1527 , four sons shared the area and the possessions among themselves: Landgrave Wilhelm received Hessen-Kassel (Lower Hesse) and thus half of the area, Ludwig shared with him Hessen-Marburg (Upper Hesse) a quarter. Landgrave Philipp the Younger got one eighth of the land with Hessen-Rheinfels (Niedergrafschaft Katzenelnbogen) and Georg with Hessen-Darmstadt (Obergravschaft Katzenelnbogen). Hessen-Rheinfels came to Ludwig IV after the death of Philip (1583) . His heirless death in 1604 caused far-reaching problems due to his will: the division of his area was linked to the Lutheran creed. While Ludwig V of Hessen-Darmstadt fulfilled this requirement, Moritz von Hessen-Kassel had turned to the Reformed faith.

Marburg 1646 (Matthäus Merian)

Ludwig subsequently founded his own university in Gießen in 1607 and fought with his cousin for his claim for almost 50 years. The “ Hessian War ” in 1645 was the climax of the conflict, which only ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 together with the Thirty Years War. A quarter of Upper Hesse and the city of Marburg now belonged to Hesse-Kassel , the rest to Hesse-Darmstadt , which also included the Hessian hinterland . This sealed the political separation, Kassel and Darmstadt were residence seats, Marburg and Gießen were each well-developed fortress cities.

Hessen-Kassel in 1720

The other part of today's Central Hesse belonged to the various lines of the Nassau and Solms Counts , the Counts of Wied-Runkel and Westerburg-Leiningen , the Lords of Schlitz and Lauterbach and the imperial city of Wetzlar. The fragmented region thus formed a typical picture of a German area at the beginning of the 17th century. For many of the smaller princes and counts, the Central Hessian property was part of the ancestral land, but increasingly moved to the periphery of the domain. The center of the House of Nassau-Dillenburg was the Barony of Breda , of the House of Nassau-Weilburg, the County of Saarbrücken became the property of the House of Solms in the Wetterau. The spiritual states Kurmainz and Kurtrier also had possessions in Central Hesse and were able to expand them. Acquisitions of Kurköln were of minor importance and could never be sustained for long.

The Ottonian line of the House of Nassau was the only one to play a major role, William of Orange († 1584) was governor of the Netherlands, his brother John VI. von Nassau-Dillenburg († 1606) took care of the ancestral areas in the Westerwald. In 1572 he converted to the Calvinist faith himself and in 1584 founded the Herborn High School as a spiritual center. With the death of Johann a fragmentation set in, which was established with the end of the Thirty Years War .

The war and the crop failures, plague epidemics and the persecution of witches made themselves felt: the population decreased, cities like Wetzlar, Marburg or Weilburg lost almost half of their inhabitants. Supported by the new form of government of Princely Absolutism , the regents tried to initiate the upswing, expanded the administration and the education sector. In addition to agriculture, mining and metallurgy in the Lahn-Dill area and linen weaving in Vogelsberg play a role, but the Central Hessian area remained a rather poor region.

Imperial Court of Justice with a view of Wetzlar (engraving from 1750)

The Reich Chamber of Commerce , at the time the highest German court, was relocated to Wetzlar in 1689. The young Goethe also completed an internship here. By the way: for the local citizens and farmers this is a rare advantage at the moment. a. also sue against their sovereigns who obliged them to perform compulsory or military services. Central Hesse was a combat zone during the Seven Years' War , and as in the Hessian War , the two Hessian counties faced each other as enemies. Epidemics and famine once again marked the country and led to the first wave of emigration in the second half of the 18th century. The burgeoning Enlightenment had to struggle with the feudal estates, but the upheaval with the French Revolution in 1789 came only slowly to Central Hesse and re-connected with war: the Revolutionary Wars from 1792 transformed the region into an occupation, rising and rising Walk-through area.

Hessen-Darmstadt 1815–1866

With the end of the wars in 1801 and the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of 1803, the regents lost their holdings on the left bank of the Rhine and were compensated with those on the right bank: Hessen-Kassel received the Electoral Mainz offices in the Marburg area, Nassau-Weilburg received the city and office of Limburg and the Counts of Solms the monasteries Arnsburg and Altenberg. With the foundation of the Rhine Confederation in 1806, the almost thousand-year history of the German Empire came to an end: Wetzlar lost its imperial city status and fell to the last Archbishop of Mainz, Karl Theodor von Dalberg , who in the Rhine Confederation Treaty (1806) the city area together with Frankfurt, Aschaffenburg, Regensburg and a few others Territories as a principality - in 1810 it was elevated to a Grand Duchy. The Nassau-Orange rulers and the Kassel monarch lost their land - both had refused to join the Rhine Confederation and were added to the Kingdom of Westphalia and the Grand Duchy of Berg . Hessen-Darmstadt and Nassau-Weilburg, on the other hand, benefited, both of which received substantial land gains.

Landgrave Ludwig von Hessen-Darmstadt joined the Rhine Confederation in 1806 and was rewarded with the title of Grand Duke by Emperor Napoleon.

The elementary schools emerged from the parish schools in the Solms region in the 16th and 17th centuries in the county of Solms-Greifenstein in the 19th century.

After the Congress of Vienna

The reform efforts brought freedom of trade, the abolition of noble and tax privileges and the abolition of serfdom. At the same time, tax levies and troop recruiting continued to drain the population, the first surveys took place, and Napoleon's defeat in 1813 was generally welcomed. Hessen-Kassel was ruled by the returned Elector Wilhelm I, Nassau-Orange by Wilhelm VI. The Congress of Vienna in 1814/15 brought another reorganization of the area: Nassau received large parts of the Nassau-Orange area, whose rule came to an end. Prussia kept its Wetzlar enclave upright and enlarged it for military reasons, and in 1818 the city became a garrison. Hessen-Kassel and Hessen-Darmstadt remain largely unaffected.

Giessen 1840 (Grünewald)

The map changed in both administrative and church politics, new offices and circles were formed, and the Reformed and Lutheran churches merged. In 1827, at the end of the Duchy of Nassau, the Catholic Diocese of Limburg was founded.

The Prussian province of Hessen-Nassau in 1905

For the longest time in its history, today's Central Hesse was, for historical reasons, administratively divided into different sub-areas. Most of the district of Giessen and the Vogelsbergkreis belonged to the province of Upper Hesse in the Grand Duchy or People's State of Hesse until 1945 . The areas of the Limburg-Weilburg district and the former Dill district belonged to the Duchy of Nassau until 1866. The former Hesse-Darmstadt urban district Biedenkopf ( Hessian Hinterland ) and the district Vöhl were after the "civil war" in 1866 by Prussia annexed and how the Hessian Marburg the new province Hesse-Nassau of the Kingdom of Prussia struck. At that time, Hessen-Darmstadt also lost the Landgraviate of Hessen-Homburg , which had recently fallen to it .

The city of Wetzlar came to the Prussian Rhine province in 1815 with the later district of Wetzlar, consisting essentially of the former principality of Solms-Braunfels and the former Nassau-Weilburg villages of Krofdorf, Gleiberg, Vetzberg, Wißmar, Launsbach, Odenhausen and Salzböden to the Prussian Rhine province , and around 1932 to the Prussian province Hessen-Nassau to be incorporated.

On April 1, 1944, the Free State of Prussia converted the two administrative districts of the province of Hessen-Nassau , Kassel and Wiesbaden, into the independent provinces of Kurhessen and Nassau. The old regional and previous administrative boundaries in the Central Hessian area remained. The Limburg district , the Oberlahn district , the Dill district and the Biedenkopf district continued to be subordinate to the administration in Wiesbaden, the Marburg district to that in Kassel.

With the invasion of the Americans at the end of March 1945, all previous administrative assignments initially ended. The American occupying power soon took the initiative and founded the state of Greater Hesse on September 19, 1945 . In the central Hessian area, the old administrative borders were revived. Due to the reorganization of Germany after 1945, Wetzlar and the associated district were assigned to the newly created state of Hesse.

A new artificial administrative unit was created for the region with the founding of the Giessen Regional Council in 1981. Only since this time has the newly created designation Mittelhessen been in use, which is gradually replacing the traditional name Oberhessen for most of the region. As a result of the historical division, Central Hesse is still divided by different borders: for example, by three Protestant regional churches and by various chambers of crafts, chambers of commerce, and employment office districts.

Religions and denominations

The Central Hessian population is assigned to various Protestant regional churches and Catholic dioceses : For the Protestant church this is the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck (the district of Waldeck-Marburg) in the Marburg area and the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland for the enclavic church districts of Braunfels and Wetzlar . By far the largest part of the area belongs to the provosts of Upper Hesse and North Nassau of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau .

The division of the Catholic dioceses reflects the historical affiliations of the region to Hesse-Darmstadt as well as to the districts of Kassel and Wiesbaden (here as of 1938): In the old district of Marburg, the Catholic Christians are looked after by the diocese of Fulda , while the west of Central Hesse (Hinterland, Lahn-Dill and Limburg-Weilburg) belongs to the diocese of Limburg . The Wetzlar area belonged to the Archdiocese of Trier until 1933 . The Gießen area, together with the Vogelsberg and Wetterau, forms an exclave of the Mainz diocese .

Due to the Calvinist past, among other things, there is an accumulation of Evangelical Protestants in regional and free churches in Central Hesse. The new Pietist revival movements that arose in the middle of the 19th century led to splits in the Lutheran official church, especially in the Biedenkopf area. Numerous free church communities and associations emerged, which are now established at the headquarters of institutions such as ERF Medien in Wetzlar and the Free Theological University in Gießen.

Population development

People have been settling in the Central Hessian area since the Neolithic , initially preferentially and continuously in the favored basin landscapes. In the past, Central Hesse was not a cultural area with an independent profile, but it was a contact zone and hub in the development of the cultural landscape. For this reason, the population of Central Hesse is not homogeneous, but rather characterized by cultural diversity. Immigration, emigration and even emigration characterize the highly fluctuating development of the inhabitants in the region, which is nevertheless characterized by the natural spatial structure. Settlements were found particularly in the fertile basin landscapes, but later also in connection with iron ore extraction and processing at high altitudes. The clustered villages dominate with full-time farmers in the village centers.

In the settlement unfavorable upland areas settlements were due to the dramatic deterioration of the climate from the beginning of the 14th century (cold wet years with Millennium flood in 1342) and the Pesteinbruchs (from 1340/50) leave and are now deserted villages . But also “false settlements” and “clearing settlements” in the forests of the low mountain range became desolate, which one during the favorable climatic period from the middle of the 10th century to the end of the 13th century (at this time wine matured up to the Harz!) Because of the then rapidly growing population had recreated.

Urban development does not generally begin until the Middle Ages, as the area was never permanently subjugated by the Romans. Nevertheless, there was lively trade between the Celts, Romans and Germanic peoples, as the more recent finds from the turn of the times near Wetzlar-Dalheim, Waldgirmes and Niederweimar show.

A comparatively high density of urban settlements formed in the region along the dense network of historical trade routes. In this context, the early founded cities of Wetzlar (privilege as a free imperial city in 1180), Limburg and Haiger should be mentioned. Mainly for territorial and political reasons, other cities such as Alsfeld, Biedenkopf or Grünberg followed. Such city foundations were often followed by counter-foundations, as in the case of Marburg and Amöneburg. In the 15th century, the settlement structure that still exists today was largely in place. However, the cities also showed little dynamic growth in terms of population, as they were rather peripheral in relation to their respective territories. It was not until the industrial upswing that impulses were brought about, especially in the increasingly dense area of ​​Wetzlar and Gießen. The two cities were merged into the city ​​of Lahn in 1977 and divided again three years later.

In 1987, 955,456 inhabitants were recorded in the census, which corresponded to 17.4% of the total population of Hesse. In the meantime, the number has leveled off at around 1,000,000 (1,041,271 on December 31, 2010). The four largest cities in the region are shown in the following sortable table:

city Population 1970 Population 1987 Population 2007 Population 2011
University town of Giessen 80.208 69,824 74,593 77,436
Limburg cathedral city 27,631 29,113 33,726 33,521
University town of Marburg 65,640 68,624 79,240 80,415
Cathedral city of Wetzlar 55,429 50.211 51,934 51,478

The regional differences are also clear in the population density: The Gießen-Wetzlar agglomeration has the highest concentration with more than 500 inhabitants / km². Marburg and Limburg have similarly high density values, but are not surrounded by a ring of communities. The population is distributed across the five districts as follows:

district Population 1981: Population 1987: Population 2007: Population 2010:
District of Giessen 234.314 227.276 254,544 256.473
Lahn-Dill district 239.917 237.811 257.022 253,553
Limburg-Weilburg district 151,444 151.930 173.162 170.714
Marburg-Biedenkopf district 239.931 230,551 251.159 251.080
Vogelsbergkreis 109,332 107,888 112,621 109,451
Central Hesse as a whole 974.938 955.456 1,048,508 1,041,271

Basically, there is a west-east divide from the basin and valley landscapes to the less densely populated mountain landscapes. The population is still decreasing in the traditional migration areas characterized by unfavorable factors, whereas the population agglomeration in the agglomerations continues to increase.

Economy and Infrastructure

Central Hesse is an independent economic area with a tradition of over 2500 years; In terms of industrial history, the region was particularly shaped in the Lahn-Dill area by ore mining, smelting and the iron industry (in particular foundries / ironworks). Today Central Hesse has a relief function for the Rhine-Main area and a bridging function between the metropolitan regions Rhine-Main and Rhine-Ruhr.

The three main centers of the planning region are Gießen (currently the largest city in Central Hesse), Marburg and Wetzlar, which also form the economic core of Central Hesse.

The currently largest companies in the region, based on the number of employees in Central Hesse, are the University Hospital Gießen and Marburg , the Friedhelm Loh Group , the Fritz Winter Eisengießerei , Ferrero , the Schunk Group , Buderus Edelstahl , Bosch Group , Bosch Thermotechnik , Gies Dienstleistungen , Siemens , Sell ​​GmbH , STI Group , Volksbank Mittelhessen , Novartis Behring, Küster Corporate Group , Hoppe AG , Alternate , Sparkasse Marburg-Biedenkopf , Johnson Controls , Carl Zeiss , ThyssenKrupp Nirosta , Seidel, Roth Industries , Sparkasse Wetzlar , Sparkasse Gießen , Berkenhoff , Linde + Wiemann , Pfeiffer Vacuum , Carl Cloos Schweißtechnik , Tucker GmbH , Isabellenhütte Heusler , Christmann & Pfeifer , Klingspor Schleifsysteme , Wilhelm Felden and Kaiser & Roth , Leica Microsystems and Selzer Fertigungstechnik .

Well-known products from Central Hesse are the centrifuged cast iron pipes , boilers and sewer pipes from the Buderus brand, as well as the optical devices ( cameras , microscopes , lenses , binoculars ) from the Leica , Minox and Zeiss brands and optical machines from Wetzlar Satisloh and Wettenberg OptoTech Optikmaschinen GmbH , Selterswasser from Selters , Licher beer , as well as Novartis from Marburg and Ferrero products from Stadtallendorf.

The Central Hesse region has clusters in the metal and electrical industry (automotive supplier), in the optical-precision engineering industry, the packaging industry and in the medical industry. The University Hospital Gießen and Marburg, as the largest employer in the region, also contributes to this, as does Marburg as a center for pharmacy with the successors of the Behring-Werke founded by Emil Adolf von Behring . In addition, the two universities of Gießen and Marburg as well as the Technical University of Central Hesse are involved to a not inconsiderable extent in the research activities. Industrial centers are Wetzlar with the heavy, optical, precision mechanical and electrical engineering industries, Stadtallendorf and the area around Biedenkopf , Breidenbach and Dautphetal . Other economically important cities are Limburg and Dillenburg .


Mittelhessen-Express on the Main-Weser Railway near Langgöns

The most important road axes in Central Hesse are the motorways 5 (Frankfurt – Gießen – Alsfeld – Kassel) (commissioning: Frankfurt – Bad Nauheim 1936, Bad Nauheim – Gießen 1937, Gießen – Alsfeld 1938) 45 (Dortmund – Siegen – Dillenburg – Wetzlar-Gießen – Gambach -Hanau, 1965–1967) and 3 (Cologne – Limburg – Frankfurt) as well as the federal highways 3 (Gießen – Kassel via Marburg) and 49 (Alsfeld – Limburg via Gießen and Wetzlar). As an important rail links which also open up intercity trains busy Main-Weser Railway (Kassel-Marburg-Gießen-Frankfurt) and Dill Railway (Cologne-Siegen-Wetzlar-casting) the region. Branch lines in east-west direction are the Lahntalbahn (Koblenz – Limburg – Wetzlar – Gießen) and the Vogelsbergbahn (Gießen – Alsfeld – Fulda). There is a connection to the ICE high-speed line Frankfurt – Cologne at Limburg Süd station . With the airfield Marburg Schönstadt and the airfield Breitscheid there are two in central Hesse airfields , also are seven special landing sites.


There are two nationally known tourist destinations in Central Hesse: The Lahntal , which is made up of the Marburg-Biedenkopf, Lahn-Dill and Westerwald-Lahn-Taunus regions, which work together in the Lahntal Tourism Association , and the Vogelsberg region . Hiking, cycling and river hiking are possible in the varied low mountain range, the Lahntal cycle path is one of the most popular in Germany. The Lahn itself is a popular paddling area for kayakers from Marburg downstream. There are animal parks in Weilburg (Weilburg zoo with mainly native species), Braunfels (Princely animal park), Schotten (bird park), Dillenburg-Donsbach (game park), Herborn-Uckersdorf (bird park) and Lich.


The Central Hessian educational area is characterized by an above-average density of higher education institutions, some of which have a long tradition. The Marburg Philipps University was founded in 1527 and is the oldest Protestant university in the world. As a high school of the Calvinist direction, Count Johann VI. From Nassau-Dillenburg 1548 the high school Herborn , which however never received the university rank and was closed in 1817. Like the Ludwigs-Universität in Gießen, which was founded in 1607, it comes from the second phase of university foundings in Germany, which was shaped by the Reformation and its consequences. The universities took over church property in the founding assets and were primarily responsible for the training of civil servants, pastors and doctors. At that time, the universities contained four classical faculties - theology, law, medicine and the philosophical faculty as a preliminary stage, with preceding pedagogies . The proximity of the two universities is explained by the different Protestant faiths in the two neighboring states of Hessen-Kassel and Hessen-Darmstadt in the 17th century: Landgrave Moritz von Hessen-Kassel enforced Calvinism in his country and drove the Lutheran professors from Marburg. Landgrave Ludwig V of Hessen-Darmstadt took this as an opportunity to ask the emperor to approve the establishment of his own university in Giessen, which was then founded in 1607. For centuries, both universities were typical small state universities for the education of state children. In 1806 Karl Theodor von Dalberg tried to bind lawyers from the disbanded Reich Chamber Court to Wetzlar by founding the legal school , which was dissolved again in 1816. From 1903 to 1915 there was a royal teachers' seminar in Wetzlar, it was closed during the First World War because the building had been converted into a hospital. Since 1908 women have been admitted to study at both universities. While the humanities and book studies developed more strongly at the Philippina, the Ludoviciana focused on the natural and life sciences.

In 1970, the technical drawing school founded in Gießen in 1838 , later a commercial and construction school , and from 1946 a polytechnic , became the Gießen University of Applied Sciences , which, after strong growth and opening of additional locations, was renamed the Technical University of Central Hesse on March 1, 2011 . The Center for Dual University Studies has existed in Wetzlar since 2001, offering dual studies under the StudiumPlus brand in cooperation with over 800 companies .

The tradition of training archivists is continued at the Marburg Archive School . Marburg is also the seat of the German Study Institute for the Blind, founded in 1916, and the Evangelical University of Tabor, founded in 2009 . In 2008 the Free Theological University of Giessen changed its status from a private academy to a state-recognized university, making it the first evangelical university in Germany.

Today over 60,000 students study in Central Hesse, the region has the highest student density of any region in Germany with 5.4 percent.



The largest newspaper group in the region is the Lahn-Dill newspaper group with eight local editions, including Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung and Hinterländer Anzeiger . The Gießener Allgemeine Zeitung is published in Gießen and the Gießener Anzeiger has been published since 1750 . The Oberhessische Presse is published in Marburg, the Dill-Zeitung in the former Dillkreis , the Nassauische Neue Presse in the Limburg-Weilburg area and the Oberhessische Zeitung in the Vogelsbergkreis . The Central Hessian regional studios of the Hessischer Rundfunk and Hit Radio FFH are located in Gießen. Wetzlar is the seat of ERF Medien eV , the national partner of Trans World Radio , which produces Christian radio and television programs and broadcasts them worldwide. Since 2005, pure internet offers in the form of communal magazines or journalistic blogs have been added to the classic offer of the established daily newspapers and broadcasters. With the two publications Milahno and Median, there were also two regional magazines in the first decade of the 21st century.


The regional assembly initiated the Mittelhessen cultural summer , which offers events all over Central Hesse under a changing motto every year. The Weilburg Palace Concerts and the program of the theaters in Gießen and Marburg are of supraregional importance as permanent establishments . Wetzlar organizes the Wetzlar Festival and, with the Rittal Arena, has the most modern and by far the largest multifunctional hall in the region. The Licher Kino Traumstern has received several awards as Germany's best cinema.

Dialects and vernaculars

The Central Hessian dialect exists in many variations throughout the region.


  • Literature about Central Hesse in the Hessian Bibliography
  • Georg Dehio , Ernst Gall , Max Herchenröder : Handbook of German art monuments - Southern Hesse . Arranged by Ernst Gall. 3rd, unchanged edition, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 1961.
  • Karl E. Demandt: History of the State of Hesse . Bärenreiter Verlag, Kassel and Basel 1972, ISBN 3-7618-0404-0 .
  • Wilhelm Classen: The ecclesiastical organization of Althessen in the Middle Ages including an outline of the modern development , 2nd edition, reprint of the original 1929 edition with map volume (15 maps), Elwert, Marburg 1980, ISBN 3-7708-0694-8 .
  • Willi Schulze, Harald Uhlig (Ed.): Gießener Geographical Excursion Guide Middle Hesse . Volume 1–3, Geographical Institute and Institute for Didactics of Geography at the Justus Liebig University of Gießen, Brühlscher Verlag, Gießen 1982, ISBN 3-922300-10-3 .
  • Regional council Gießen in connection with the historical commission for Hessen (Hrsg.): Mittelhessen: from past and present . Hitzeroth, Marburg 1991, ISBN 3-89398-066-0 .
  • Ulrich G. Großmann: Central and South Hesse . Dumont Verlag, Cologne 1995, ISBN 3-7701-2957-1 .
  • Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Hessen-Thüringen (Ed.): Cultural discoveries in Central Hesse . Schnell + Steiner, Regensburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-7954-1854-0 .
  • Georg Dehio: Dehio - manual of the German art monuments. Hessen I: The administrative districts of Giessen and Kassel . Arranged by Folkhard Cremer and Tobias M Wolf. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-422-03092-3 .
  • Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Hessen-Thüringen (ed.): Cultural discoveries: Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Vogelsbergkreis, Wetteraukreis . Schnell + Steiner, Regensburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-7954-2189-2 .
  • Communication Solution GmbH / David Hart (Ed.): Newcomers Guide. Welcome Home to Central Hesse . 2011.


  1. ^ Johan van Vliet: Central Hesse - The birth of a region . In: Magistrate of the City of Wetzlar (Ed.): Tüftler & Talente. 150 years of technical innovations in Central Hesse. Wetzlar 2004, pp. 15-27
  2. ^ Walter Heinemeyer: To the older history of the Middle Hessian landscape . In: Mittelhessen: From the past and the present . Hitzeroth, Marburg 1991, p. 66
  3. a b c Hessian State Statistical Office: Population in the administrative districts on December 31, 2010 and population processes in 2010 ( Memento from November 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) . Wiesbaden 2011, accessed on July 3, 2012
  4. ^ A b c d Alfred Pletsch: Geographical Structures Mittelhessens , S. 33. in: Mittelhessen. From the past and the present. Hitzeroth Verlag, Marburg 1991
  5. ^ A b Hessian State Statistical Office: The population of the Hessian communities ( Memento from June 18, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) . Wiesbaden 2012, accessed on July 3, 2012
  6. http://www.dsgv.de : Sparkasse Ranking List 2011 ( Memento from December 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 93 kB)
  7. Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale, Volkswirtschaft / Research (Ed.): The largest companies in Central and Northern Hesse ( Memento from June 23, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) . March 2010
  8. ^ Being strong together in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, May 19, 2006
  9. Promote regional industry. 16 companies join forces to form an industrial network . In: Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung, May 26, 2010
  10. Vogelsberg Consult takes on management for the packaging industry cluster in: Osthessen-News, accessed on July 1, 2008
  11. The development of medical technology in Central Hesse is worthwhile in: Gießener Anzeiger, January 19, 2007
  12. ^ Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung: Tiergarten attracts 70,000 visitors , April 5, 2007
  13. ^ Andreas Schmidt: Educational region with a role model . In: Oberhessische Presse, August 31, 2012

Web links

Wiktionary: Mittelhessen  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Mittelhessen  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Portal: Mittelhessen  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Central Hesse
Wikivoyage: Central Hesse  - travel guide