Hanau Germany

City of fairy tales, gardens, castles & a spa

Hanau is famous for being the birthplace of the Grimm brothers, the publishers of the well-loved fairy tales. The city is also the start of the Deutsche Märchenstraße (German fairy-tale road), a scenic route that leads a few hundred km across Germany to Bremen in the north.

Hanau's location on the junction of the rivers Main and Kinzig invites you to enjoy some beautiful river scenery. Not far from the junction is the romantic castle Phillipsruhe and the picturesque suburb Kesselstadt.

old town square in hanau

Altstädter Markt & the house of goldsmiths
wilhelmsbad kurhaus and park

The former health resort Wilhelmsbad

Located about 25 km east of Frankfurt, Hanau provides very good public transport and is well connected to the main Autobahnen (motor-ways) in the Rhine-Main area. It is easy to discover the highlights of the city and surrounding areas by bus and train.

As a mainly industrial city, you might discover some "ugly" areas. However, this should not hold you off to explore the scenic parts of my home town with me.

Let me show you the hidden treasures of Hanau. Discover one of those most underrated cities in Germany.

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Hanau Attractions

Wilhemsbad is a picturesque spa complex in the suburb Kesselstadt. Named after his creator, crown prince and Count Wilhelm IV., the complex was built for the noble society. Situated in a large English-style garden, many features for entertainment were added: a huge horse-drawn carousel, a devils bridge and a pyramid.

the old spa houses and a boulevard in wilhelmsbad
Also in the park is an island within a small dammed creek. Here rises a pseudo-medieval castle. It was built with the appearance of a ruin which, but housed an elegant apartment for the count.
Walk along the avenue with grand old buildings, pavilions and enjoy the magnificent park.

The park is open daily, no admission. Guided tours for groups by appointment. Tours of the castle (Crown Prince's rooms) are available from April-October: Sat 2pm, 3pm and 4pm; Sun every hour from 11am to 4pm. Arrangements for guided group tours can be made all year round.

Schloss Philippsruhe
This 18th century baroque palace is a brilliant building complex located on the river Main in Kesselstadt.

entrance of philippsruhe castle in hanau
On the ground floor is the official wedding hall for citizen of Hanau. Aren't we lucky to be able to marry in a castle?
The white hall (Weisser Saal) in the left wing of the palace is a restaurant where you can dine like a king. The huge terrace overlooking the river is open in summer and a beautiful place to relax.
The castle park is a wonderful place for a leisurely walk, and the kids will have their fun as well.
The Philippsruher Allee, the most beautiful boulevard in Hanau, leads from the Westbahnhof (train station west) along the river Main to the palace.

The Old Town
The Altstädter Markt was the central place of the old town. The beautiful half-timbered house was the town hall of Hanau which recieved Stadtrechte (city rights) in 1303.

half-timbered house of goldsmiths
The former town hall is now the Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus (German House of Goldsmiths). Go inside to see exhibitons and learn about the gold and silversmiths' art in Germany. Goldschmiedehaus is open daily, except Mondays, from 10am to 5 pm. Admission is €2.50 for adults.
As you walk a little bit further you come to the true heart of old Hanau. The Stadthalle (former stables), now integrated into the the modern Congress Park Hanau, and the opposite Stadtbücherei (library) building were parts of the old city palace complex which stood in the Schlosspark (castle garden).
The beautiful Marienkirche (St. Mary's church) was first mentioned in the 14th century.

New Town
Don't get confused, there is only one Hanau these days. However, until 1821 two cities excisted with their own fortification walls and two separate city councils.

hanau germany new town hall
The baroque Neustädter Rathaus (town hall of the new town) was built in the 18th century on the market square.
In front of the red brick building is the Brothers Grimm memorial that commemorates the famous sons of Hanau.

The Marktplatz (market place) is the heart of Hanau. The place is surrounded by department stores and pedestrian malls. Relax in a cafe, and enjoy life.

Alte Fasanerie
The wildlife park Alte Fasanerie is an attraction for all animal friends, kids and adults alike. The huge park features woodlands, meadows, and open spaces. Huge enclosures give animals like deer, bisons, wolves, wild boars and elks space to roam.

wolf alte fasanerie
Smaller enclosurers are home to badgers, racoons, foxes and ferrets. In the bird aviaries the colourful pheasants are my personal favourites, but the snow owls look also beautiful.

On weekends (only in dry weather) you can drive in a covered carriage throughout the park. Pony rides are offered for children. One of the most fascinating attraction is the monthly wolves howling night at full moon. Ayla, Scott, Inuq, Aslan, Monja & Khan are 6 arctic wolves, they were hand-raised by Dr Marion Ebel, the biologist who howls with the wolves.
The Alte Fasanerie is in Hanau-Kleinauheim, and really worth a visit.

Quick Facts

Population - Bevölkerung: 88,637 (2010) including residents of the incorporated towns Grossauheim, Klein-Auheim, Steinheim, Wolfgang, Mittelbuchen, Kesselstadt.
About 20% of the population are foreigners. Turkish and Italian people are in the majority among the foreign residents.
Elevation: 104 m above sea level
State: Hessen (Hesse)
District - Landkreis: Hanau is on the western edge of the Main-Kinzig-Kreis which is mainly a rural area with low mountain ranges.
Sister cities - Partnerstädte: Dartford (United Kingdom), Tottori (Japan), Yaroslavl (Russia), Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (France), Francheville (France)
Postal Code- Postleitzahl: 63450, 63452, 63454 63456, 63457
Area Code - Vorwahl: 06181
Climate: moderate
Best travel season: April to October

Museums in Hanau

beautiful entrance door to shcloss philippsruhe

Entrance to Schloß Philippsruhe

Hessisches Puppenmuseum (Hessen Doll Museum), Parkpromenade 4, Wilhelmsbad
Explore the history of European dolls from antique time to the 21th century. The museum is a dream for everyone interested in dolls and toys.
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 12 pm, and 2 pm to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.
Admission: adults €3.50, children €1.00, families €7.00.

Historisches Museum Schloss Philippsruhe (Historical museum)
The palace is home of the historical museum, including an unique paper toy theatre museum. See fayences, silver and cast iron art, explore documents of Hanau's history.
One room is devoted to the Brothers Grimm, with special exhibitions every now and then.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6 pm. Admission: €2.50 adults, €5.00 for families. Access to the museum cafe is free.

Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus (German House of Goldsmiths) see details in the section about the old town above.

castle in hanau steinheim

Other interesting museums in Hanau's suburbs include the Frühhistorisches Museum (Prehistoric Museum) in the old castle in Steinheim and the museum in Grossauheim.

Under the concept living museums all museums offer workshops for children and adults. You can even celebrate your kid's birthday in a museum.



Hanau baut um

If you know Hanau from 10, 20, even 40 years ago, you might be interested in the changes that are coming during the next couple of years.

yellow sign with Hanau
In 2012 the huge remodelling process called "Hanau baut um" has started. A large cultural and shopping centre will be built as the first step at one of the main squares, Freiheitsplatz.

I invite you to follow the progress at my Germany Facts Facebook page. Give the page a "Like", and you won't miss the photos and updates.

Apart from the changes in my home town, you can discover the highlights of the Rhine-Main region as I am going to post pictures from my excursions frequently on FB.

History of Hanau Germany

Hanau's long history could fill a book. Below I have listed the most significant events which have influenced appearance and life in Hanau until today.

old city palace
Hanau Palace, 1632
Source: Wikipedia public domain

hanau germany niederlaendisch-wallonische kirche
Dutch-Walloon Church Hanau

  • A castle, surrounded by arms of the river Kinzig, was first mentioned in 1143. Over the centuries, the fortified castle was expanded, modernised and turned into a palace, known as the Stadtschloss.
    Hanau-born elector Wilhelm II. ordered the demolition of the oldest medieval part of the palace in 1829/30, despite its historic significance.
    Prussia annexed the electorate Hesse in 1866, therefore the palais in Hanau was not needed anymore as a residence of noble families.
    The city of Hanau bought the palace in 1890. The various buildings were turned into homes and government offices. For some time in the 20th century the mayor of Hanau had his residence in one of the buildings.
  • 1597 Calvinist refugees from the Spanish Netherlands and France founded the Neustadt (New city) in Hanau. The refugees brought an enormous amount of capital and know how to Hanau. Goldsmiths, weavers and other craftsmen settled in the flourishing Neustadt.
    The Dutch-Walloon double-church was built early in the 17th century. The curch was destroyed in 1945, only the smaller Dutch part was rebuild. The ruins of the Walloon part remained as a memorial.
  • During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) Hanau was a base for the Swedish Army under the Scottish General Ramsay. 1635 imperial troops under General Lamboy besieged Hanau for 9 months, the situation in the city was terrible. Finally, Wilhelm V. of Hesse Kassel, an ally of the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf, freed the besieged city. Since then, citizens of Hanau held an annual church service to commemorate the freedom, which over the years lead to the annual Lamboyfest festival.
  • Hanau was nearly totally destroyed during WW II. After a British air strike on 19th March 1945 only seven houses remained in the city centre. The old town lost its medieval appearance.
    Sadly, this happened only 10 days before American troops invaded Hanau, and the war came to its end. An annual service at the main cemetery on the 19th March commemorates those who lost their lives on that day.
    The quick reconstruction of houses soon after the war didn't care for prettiness and rehabilitation of historic ruins. The city needed living space badly. Only a few old buildings were reconstructed in the 50s and 60s.

Americans in Hanau

US American troops came as occupying forces in 1945. They soon helped to develop the non-existent infrastructure and removed debris in the destroyed city.

American GIs brought sweets and chocolates for the children, shared their supplies and helped whenever they could in those hard years after the war. Teenager were impressed by the American Swing, Jazz and Rock'n Roll music, which was mostly disapproved by their parents.

The American Way of Life influenzed the youth in the 50s and 60s, not only in Hanau. A lively music scene with bars and live music developed in Hanau at that time.

The American troops left Hanau in 2008, the end of an area.
An exhibition in 2006 (60 years Americans in Hanau) and the recent movie Rollover Hanau recall the times when Hanau was the party metropolis of Hessen, and appreciates the German-American friendship in general.

I found this video on You Tube which shows the great affection by a Hanau-born Amercian for my/our home town.
Read Chris Tully's story.

As you can see from many contributions by readers, Americans who were stationed at Hanau, have still fond memories.



Events in Hanau Germany

The Brüder Grimm Märchenfestspiele (Brothers Grimm fairy tale festivals) are well-known in Hesse and all over Germany.

amphitheatre within the park of philippsruhe
Soak up the mystery and fairy tales of your childhood. Step back into the time when whiches, princesses and heroes were part of your real world. Children and adults love the magic atmosphere of the fairy tales.

The Brothers Grimm festival season 2015 includes "Hänsel & Gretel", "Rumpelstilzchen", "Der gestiefelte Kater" from the collection of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. New this year is "Kabale und Liebe" by Friedrich Schiller.

The festival takes place in the amphitheatre in the park of Schloss Philippsruhe. Thanks to the covered theatre you don't need to worry about rain or sunshine.
Tickets cost from €9.50 to €20.50 depending on the play, seat and whether or not you book in advance. The 2015 festival season begins on 15th May and ends on 26st July.

The Love Family Park is the ultimative open-air event for techno music fans. It has been held in Hanau since 1996. 2010 saw the 15th birthday of this annual music festival on the Mainwiesen in Hanau, and the success continues.
Update: Due to nature protection Hanau had to cancel the event in 2014. It is now held in Mainz.

jugglers on stilts
Lamboyfest is a traditional festival on a weekend before or after the 13th Juni, it commemorates the victory over general Lamboy who besieged Hanau for 9 months.
Lamboyfest 2015 is from 12th to 14th Juni in the streets of the old town. As usual there is a large cultural program with live musik acts (6 stages), a historical market, juggler festival and good food and drinks provided by local associations and restaurants.
Every year Lamboyfest is an exciting event that attracts visitors for one weekend. Perhaps you want to stay in Hanau for the festival next year?

The City of Hanau helds a summer events series called "märchenhafter Sommer" (magical summer) with concerts, festivals and much more. Just ask at the tourist information centre what is on when you are in Hanau.

colourful stalls at the farmers market
The farmers market on the market place is held twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. With more than 100 stalls it is one of the largest in Hessen.
The market offers fruits, vegetables, honey, flowers, bread, meat and sausages, cheese, and much more.
colouful vegetables
Especially in spring and summer the colours of flowers and fruits are a feast for the eyes. A visit to the market is one of my favorite activities on a Saturday morning.

From the end of November the farmers market has to move, because the beautiful Hanau Christmas market inspires people for the coming Christmas season. More than 70 stalls offer Christmas ornaments, candles, toys, arts and crafts, and, of course various foods and hot and cold drinks. Sip a glass of Glühwein (mulled wine) to heat you up, and enjoy a wonderful Christmas atmosphere.

hanau germany christmas market

Christmas market in Hanau

In 2014 the Christmas market starts on 28th November and is open daily from 11am to 9pm until 22th December.

Useful Visitor Information

Map of Hanau Germany

You see Hanau is a fairly green city, and it is surrounded by woods and forests.
Right-click on the "View Hanau Germany in a larger map" and open the map in a new browser tab or window. Continue to read my Hanau guide, and explore the places on the map.

View Hanau Germany in a larger map

How to get to Hanau?

Rhein-Main airport in Frankfurt is only 22km from Hanau. The airport is connected with Hanau by S-Bahn (S8, S9). Even a taxi is affordable if you are tired after a long flight.

InterCityExpress trains from Berlin, Munich and other German cities stop frequently in Hanau, so getting here by train is quite easy.

Hanau has also a good connection to the major Autobahnen, so travelling by car is no problem.

Once you are in Hanau, there is a good network of buses to discover the city and the suburbs. Almost all highlights are only a short walking distance from a bus stop.

The Hanauer bus company is member of the RMV, the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund. So if you buy a single train ticket from say Frankfurt to Hanau, you can use the bus from the train station in Hanau to the city with the same ticket.
If you plan a sightseeing tour in Hanau all day, it is a good idea to get a day ticket which is valid all day for buses in Hanau and to the suburbs.

Want to visit Frankfurt and its attractions from Hanau? You can take regional trains from Hanau to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, or the S-Bahn which stops at several points within Frankfurt.

Accommodation in Hanau

When you plan a visit it is a good idea to check out accommodation possibilities in advance.
Use the search box to let HotelsCombined compare the offers from major online booking services.

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Tourist Information Centre

The tourist information centre offers info about festivals, markets and special events. Pick up brochures and ask for guided tours. They also sell nice Hanau related souvenirs and post cards.
The location is in the city centre, Am Markt 14-18
63450 Hanau, Tel: 06181 - 295 950, Fax: 06181 - 295959

Discover more about Hanau, its culture and the surrounding regions


Readers' Stories

Read more stories by visitors to Hanau, or add your comments.
Due to lots of spam, all comments are moderated. So it will take some time until you see your comment on the website. Thank you for your understanding.

Displaced persons camp in Hanau late 1940's 
Hi all, my Mom and family resided at the US displaced persons camp post World War II. Does anyone know if the camp still exists. We'll be visiting …

Hanau my home away from home for 18 months 
I was stationed in Hanau with the US Army at the Pioneer Kassern from July 1966 to Jan 1968. I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed my stay there. …

Life in Hanau 
I lived in Hanau from 1972 until 1995. I still go home to visit my mother but it isn't the same anymore since the bases closed. All my friends are …

Stationed with the 42nd Ordinance Pioneer Kaserne 60-62 
I was stationed with the 42nd ordinance on Pioneer 1960-1962. Remember spending time at the Jolly bar listening to the Tielman Brothers. That ended …

When I was small I lived on the post in Hanau 
Hi, I enjoyed your video and wished that I could say that I remember even a bit of what it showed. My dad was stationed in Hanau from 1960-1964 and …

1954 to 1957 hometown - Buffalo NY-Army in Hanau 
My name is Joseph J. Kane I was in the US Army. 37th group class 60 Bridges. We closed the river Rhine down twice to bridge it. Also played football …

Hanau - home sweet home 
I grew up in Hanau and moved to the states in 2000. Grossauheim was the place to be! Not only was the Rod N gun Club only minutes from my house but also …

Hanau - My Home Also 
German-American born Hanau 1949 been in states almost all of my life but really cherish and miss Hanau . Old childhood friends like Reiner Loss, …

Stationed in Hanau 1967 to 1969 
I was stationed in Hanau from 1967 until 1969. I loved the town. I went back in 2008 and 2009. It has really changed. I plan to go again in a couple …

Stationed in Hanau '79 - '83 
Those four years in Hanau, in Germany, were the best years of my military career. Every weekend there were volksmarches, farmer's markets, castles to …

Loved serving in Hanau 
I was stationed in Hanau Germany from April 1969 until June 1970 and loved the town and the Country. The people were so nice and I met and made friends …

army engineer 88-91 
I lived in Hanau, FRG 88-91, loved spending time at the marketplatz and the swimbad on Lamboystrasse. I lived on pioneer kaserne and frequented the Rod …

Born in Hanau 
I am the American(really German-American) who created the video of Hanau. As noted on the video, it is where I was born in 1964. I was also given up for …

Yorkoff Kaserne Hanau 
I was an ambulance driver for the 557 th amb co from 68-70 at yorkoff kaserne and moved my bride into a small apartment on Windecker Strasse three weeks …

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