A Stroll through Bad Homburg: Poets, Thinkers and the Mouse

Hölderlin, Dostojewski and the “Maus” know the Hessian city of Bad Homburg well. Situated at the gates of Frankfurt, it invites you to marvel and linger. It is not only beautiful here, but also safe.

The city of Bad Homburg has been awarded the DEKRA Vision Zero Award 2018. Photo: Fotolia - Christian

The city of Bad Homburg has been awarded the DEKRA Vision Zero Award 2018. Photo: Fotolia – Christian

200 hundred years ago, the safety on the streets was probably not a big issue. No cars, little coach traffic – people often walked. Friedrich Hölderlin also regularly took on the walk from Bad Homburg to Frankfurt, 22 kilometers away, to visit his lover Susette. The famous poet lived for some years in Bad Homburg at the beginning of the 19th century. But not only because of the writer the small city at the gates of Frankfurt is worth a visit. Whether you take a walk in the Kurpark and admire the monument erected for the poet, enjoy the Lantern Festival or buy a traditional Homburg Hat, one thing is certain: you can feel more secure than in almost any other city in Germany.

Just recently, Bad Homburg, with its 55,000 inhabitants, was awarded the DEKRA Vision Zero Award 2018 for eight years with no road fatalities. “This is a great recognition and confirms that we are absolutely right in the way we devote ourselves to the topic of traffic,” says Alexander Hetjes, Lord Mayor and a native of Bad Homburg. Road traffic authorities, Hessian police, city traffic planning and road construction are working very closely together. They regularly analyse accident points and develop solutions that help to prevent accidents.

Sometimes these are easy to implement, as with a large through road, where drivers used to turn to avoid a detour. There have been many dangerous situations, including accidents with high material damage. Hetjes: “Ultimately, we prohibited a u-turn at this point”. In the vicinity of schools, driven speeds are controlled and misdemeanours are punished strictly. “Nevertheless, despite all the foresighted planning we owe it to lucky circumstances that we didn’t have to mourn any fatalities on our roads. We all hope that it stays that way.”

The Hölderlin Prize is awarded annually

With this thought in mind, you can stroll very relaxed through the streets of Bad Homburg, where other famous personalities besides Friedrich Hölderlin also walked. The writer Fyodor Dostojewski once played in the local casino and found role models for his novel “The Player”. Isolde Schmitt-Menzel invented the “Maus” in Bad Homburg, which is famous today for its laughter and non-fiction stories, and Hölderlin himself had a lasting cultural influence on the city: “Every year in June we award the Hölderlin Prize and are in the midst of preparations for a celebration to mark the poet’s 250th birthday in 2020,” says the Lord Mayor.

Tradition plays an important role here in many respects: the city can look back on a long past as one of the glittering spas of Germany in the 19th century. Even today, Bad Homburg sees itself as a health resort. There are spas, clinics and cure facilities.

“If you visit us, you must look at the Landgrafenschloss with the White Tower, the landmark of our city, and the historic Kurpark,” enthuses Hetjes. In addition to Hölderlin’s monument, there is also the oldest tennis club in Europe and the oldest golf course in Germany. “We are the only city in Germany that has two Thai Salas,” he says. The richly decorated pavilions are gifts from the Thai Royal House out of gratitude for the recovery of their king Chulalongkorn in Bad Homburg in 1907.

The poet Hölderlin lived for several years in Bad Homburg. Photo: Fotolia - caifas

The poet Hölderlin lived for several years in Bad Homburg. Photo: Fotolia – caifas

Hölderlin did not see these magnificent pavilions anymore, but he already knew in his time: “Only when the youth is gone do we love it”. And Bad Homburg is doing a lot to inspire the younger adults: a centre with a cinema and club is to be created at the station, where they will have the opportunity to meet up with friends in the evening. “We also have a very good pub scene with many trendy bars, so that younger people can also live well with us,” adds Hetjes. And if you really want to celebrate, you should visit Bad Homburg on the last weekend in August. The Lantern Festival, one of the largest folk festivals in the region, traditionally takes place there.

The city also invites you to go shopping. Since the purchasing power of Bad Homburg is above average, there are still numerous owner-managed shops on the shopping mile, which extend the usual range of city centres. In the old town, for example, there is a hat salon whose owner still produces the famous Homburg Hat by hand according to old tradition. “Of course I have one and wear it, even if it’s not the latest trend,” says Hetjes.

Whether or not Hölderlin possessed such a hat – one thing is certain: whether with or without a hat, a visit to the Hessian city at the gates of Frankfurt is definitely worth it.


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