Marburg: Youthful university city with deep historical roots

‘Other cities have a university, Marburg is a university.’ is a popular saying in Marburg. Like only a few other cities in Germany Marburg convey the feeling of a real university town.

Marburg at a glance


Altstadt von Marburg, Foto: Markus Farnung
Altstadt von Marburg, Foto: Markus Farnung
'Marburg - the creative little model city' - this is how a newspaper in nearby Giessen a little enviously titled its portrayal of Marburg’s cultural life. Whether the cultural scene in Marburg is exemplary in every way is up to your individual judgment.
Indeed, the city is stimulated by an endless and spirited source of creativity and ideas: from classical music to off-theatre, from museums and archives to open-air festivals, from literary circles and socio-cultural centres to the multiple prize-winning cinema programmes. A range of bars and affordable restaurants complete the necessary ingredients for a true students’ city. So it’s no surprise that the almost 21,000 students like it here. One out of four inhabitants in Marburg is a student, so the university not only characterises the city and its cultural life but it’s also one of the largest employers in the region.
Besides its rich cultural scene Marburg is also popular among tourists for its colorful past and picturesque Old Town. For centuries now lies the Old Town, that’s also called ‘Oberstadt’ (Upper Town), with its alleys, half-timber houses and the famous Elisabeth church at the castle hill, between the beautiful Lahn River valley and the Marburg Castle.

Overview of the universities


Philipps-Universität Marburg

Alte Universität, Foto: Rainer Kieselbach
Alte Universität, Foto: Rainer Kieselbach
Incorporated in 1527, the University of Marburg considers itself to be a classical university offering a full range of courses with a modern approach. Its broad range of arts and humanities and its experimentally challenging scientific work constitute an ideal platform for interdisciplinary cooperation. Next to first rate research and teaching, students also enjoy Marburg’s peaceful environment. Anonymity and overcrowded lecture halls are uncommon. The university buildings are located at two different sites. While the humanities and arts are concentrated in the town centre, the science departments are located outside the inner city. This is also where the university hospital and the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology are situated.
Studying at the University of Marburg is particularly easy for disabled people, especially for the visually impaired, due to a number of special aids. As a result, the University of Marburg has by far the greatest number of blind students.

Herder Institute
Since its foundation in April 1950, Herder Institute has been one of Germany's principal centres for historical research on East-Central Europe. Sponsored by the federal government and all sixteen federal states of Germany, this non-university institution (member of the Leibniz Association) operates as a centre for research and academic services.

Recreation in Marburg


Rudern auf der Lahn, Foto: Oliver Geyer
Rudern auf der Lahn, Foto: Oliver Geyer
Venice is known for its thousand bridges, Marburg for its stairs and alleys. Jacob Grimm, one of the Grimm brothers, once said about Marburg: ‘I believe there are more steps in the streets than in the houses.’ Crooked, bumpy, angular and steep, such is Marburg’s Old Upper Town. But if you climb up to the Marburg Castle, the Landgrave Castle, the view over the city and its surroundings is more than rewarding. Marburg lies on the German Fairy Tale Route and it was here where the Grimm Brothers started to collect their tales and sagas, and if you stroll around in Marburgs medieval alleys you’ll feel like in a fairy tale.
Afterwards you can completely relax in the Old and the New Botanical Garden. Century-old trees in the Old Botanical Garden on Pilgrimstein in the town centre and over 12,500 plants from all over the world in the New Botanical Garden on the Lahn Hills lure you into a realm of sweet daydreams.
The Planet Trail will lead you to worlds even further away. The educational trail is six kilometres long and illustrates the solar system on a scale of 1:1 Billion. It starts in Marburg-Cappel at a man-size model of the sun and leads along the Lahn River to the main station. All info boards along the trail are written in Braille too.
Every year the second weekend in July the whole city goes crazy and celebrates the city festival called '3 Days Marburg', which is filled with a brisk market life, music and culture and has something to offer for every taste: eight stages in the inner city and in the park surrounding the castle, Sunday shopping, the Dragon boat Cup, fireworks, a children’s festival and much more.
Every last Friday in June live bands and DJs in and around the lecture hall building attract up to 14,000 visitors as the University of Marburg holds its annual summer party.

Useful links


The city’s website in English
The tourism website of Marburg
Virtual city tours
Student Union Marburg
Express-Online, a magazine with many tips and info about events and more

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