Giessen, the city of universities

Giessen – Giessen, spelled Gießen in German,  is a small city which lies on center of Hessen. It is located about 70 km north from Frankfurt am Main.

Giessen in der 1. Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts, nach dem Stich von F. Chr. Reinermann aus den stadtischen Sammlungen
Giessen in the 1st half of the 19th century, after the engraving by F. Chr. Reinermann from the city collections. On the top of background mountain is Gleiberg Castle.

The town was a surrounding area of Gleiberg castle in 1152, built by Count Wilhelm von Gleiberg. However, the area have been settled since  775 at the place nowadays known as Wieseck.

Zeughaus, was used for armory since 1500s, heavily damage on December 1944 bombing, and now is a JLU library and part of Fachbereich-09 of Uni-Giessen (Photo: Kurniawan, 2015).

During World War II, a subcamp of the Weimar Buchenwald concentration camp was located here, as well as military camps (artillery barrack, river barrack, forest barrack, and military training area). As a result, Giessen was one of Allied bombardment target. On December 6, 1944, Giessen experienced heavy bombing (by 250 RAF heavy bomber) which killed 813 people and 30,000 were homeless. Until the end of war (March 28, 1945), 75% of Gießen area were destroyed. Almost 90% of buildings in the city center was annihilated, including most of the town’s historic buildings.

Stadt-iftar, Ramadhan fasting break in Giessen (Photo: Kurniawan, 2016)

Giessen became part of the modern State of Hesse after the war. An USA military base was located in a converted German Army Air Field. This military personels later influenced some building, pub, and housing style in Giessen. All buildings belong to USA millitary were turned back to the local German authority after the the base closed in 2007.

Giessen city on the horizon as seen from Gleiberg Castle (Photo: Kurniawan, 2014)

After the war, the construction began based on modern urbanism. The old-city (Altstadt) plots were grouped in a large area with widened street and space. The bombing remaining were torn down and replaced by modern buildings. However, some historical buildings were reconstructed to their original state, include: Altschloss, Neues Schloss, Zeughaus, Liebig Museum, and Kirchenplatz Turm.

Now, Giessen is a modern city for education and settlement. It has three universities i.e.: Justus-Liebig Universitaet Giessen (JLU), Technische Hochschule Mitelhessen (THM), and Freie Theologische Hochschule Giessen (FTH). Giessen population rose to 83,280 residents in 2014 (compare to 1,200 in 1495 and 46,560 in 1939), and about one-third are university students.

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