Hanau is quite famous for a number of things, chiefly for being the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm. It also has a long history of gold and silver making that dates back as early as 1303, when Hanau was officially chartered, giving it its nickname as the Gold and Silver City, as well as the somewhat less glamorous reputation for being an industrial centre. Located directly on the Main River, and under 30 kilometres away from Frankfurt, it’s worth a look, particularly its fantastic Philippsruhe Castle with its exquisite gardens and museum exhibitions.
Directions Take the S8 or S9 in the to Hanau Hauptbahnhof; the journey takes approximately 30 minutes. A one-way ticket costs €6. This includes your bus fare from the train station to the Marktplatz, where you will immediately be greeted by a huge statue of the famous Brothers Grimm. The tourist information centre sits behind the New Town Hall, where you can find plenty of maps and information about sites and activities. Tourist Information Office, Am Markt 14-18, tel. 06181-29 59 50, www.hanau.de. Open 09:30-18:00, Fri 08:30-13:00, Sat 09:00-12:00.
Schloss Philippsruhe and Schlosspark, Philippsruher Allee 45, tel. 06181-202 09, email@example.com, www.museen-hanau.de. Open 11:00-18:00, Closed Monday. Admission €2.50/€1.50, free on Saturdays. A short ride on the N°10 bus takes you directly to the picturesque baroque castle. Laid out in 1701 by Count Philip Reinhard directly on the riverbank of the Main, it was designed to look like a French chateau, but wasn’t completed till after Philip’s death by his brother who managed to complete the castle and its surrounding French gardens. Annexed by many, including Napoleon and the Prussians, it underwent changes to its classic style and architecture, and 1984 sadly caught fire, but has since been exquisitely renovated. It houses an assortment of diverse collections, but is particularly famous for its faience collection, earthenware decorated with an opaque metallic glaze that was made in a local Hanau factory. It also serves as the Hanau historical museum, with an exhibition spanning the 700 years of town history. Paintings, metalwork, and a toy theatre museum round out the collection, and of course a section of the museum is dedicated to the famous Brothers Grimm. Particularly striking are the castle gardens, with an open-air sculpture garden that lay directly on the bank of the Main. This popular picnicking spot is beautifully landscaped, with a footpath running along the Main. The castle also has an outdoor café so that you may enjoy the view of the castle and gardens outdoors.
Deutches Goldschmiedehaus (German Goldsmiths’ House), Altstädter Markt 60, tel. 6181-29 54 30, www.museen-hanau.de. Open 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00, Closed Monday. Admission €2.50/€1.50. Located in the old town, the half-timbered house is one of Hanau’s most historically significant as it served as the town’s city hall from 1537 to approximately 1900. Dutch and Belgian gold- and silversmiths established Hanau New Town in 1597, feeling less than welcome in Frankfurt, and went on to organise themselves into Gold and Silversmith’s Guild. Goldsmiths’ art enjoyed its golden age in the second half of the eighteenth century, due in particular to the founding of the Hanau Academy of Drawing, which is still in existence today, bringing in young artisans from all over Europe. In 1942 a famous jeweller and goldsmith from Berlin, Ferdinand Wilm recommended to the city that the house be established as a centre for artwork in precious metals, and thus the modern use of the house was born. It houses several versatile exhibitions per year, as well as special presentations and contests, such as the Silver Triennial, an international silver competition that takes place every three years. The permanent collection in the basement is also excellent, with a fascinating display of a metal workshop circa 1900.
Wilhelmsbad Just north of the castle is this famous 18th century spa complex (Kurhaus) located on the river Weiher, one of the best preserved in Germany. The English style park is open all year round, stretching out in front of the elegant spa complex, which was built in 1779 by Crown-Prince Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel. A modern art gallery, theatre (the Komodienhaus), and a restaurant are now housed in the buildings. Sadly, the spa facilities are no longer open today.
Shopping & Eating
If you travel to Hanau on Wednesday or Sunday, you will find the historic weekly market (07:00 - 13:00), with over 100 stands selling fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and meat. Whilst not nearly as impressive as Frankfurt’s Zeil, Hanau has plenty of its own shops and department stores, all within walking distance of the Marktplatz. There are some excellent restaurants just near the Philippsruhe castle including Zum Roten Löwen (tel. 06181-25 47 06, Landstr. 4, popen 18:00 - 01:00), which is an upscale German restaurant that serves traditional food. Or check out the Pizzeria Zum Schwanen (06181-25 35 23, Philippsruher Allee 50), which serves both traditional German food, and an inexpensive assortment of pizzas and pasta. For those looking for a more festive setting closer to the old town, try Cubanas (tel. 0700 111 00 99, Dechaneistr. 24, Open 12:00 - 01:00, www.cubana-hanau.de), which serves fantastic Cuban and Mexican cuisine in a Carribbean atmosphere, with over 100 cocktails to choose from. It also has an all-you-can eat lunch special throughout the week, and brunch at the weekends.