Idstein Germany - the medieval town in Germany
The historic center of the old town of Idstein in Germany is known for its small streets and innumerable frame houses (timbered houses). Strolling through the old town of Idstein / Gemany you will admire four centuries of framework-construction in the style of Hesse and Frankonia.
Idstein in Germany counts: Inhabitants: ca. 24.000, Height: 266 meters, Townhall: Rathaus am König-Adolf-Platz 2, Website: www.idstein.de
Location in Germany
Idstein is located just in the center of Germany at the rim of the “Taunus” hills with an height of approximately 300 meters. The centre of the town has a population of 15.000, and there are 11 more villages in the surrounding area with 300 up to 3.500 inhabitants, who also count to Idstein. Idstein has 5 twin towns, namely en Russia, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy y Turkey. The motorway A3 from Frankfurt / Germany to Cologne has an exit called „Idstein“.
The train „Deutsche Bahn“ has two stations, Idstein and Wörsdorf. The Express Train (ICE) between Frankfurt and Cologne passes along Idstein, but unfortunately there is no station.
History of the medieval town
Germany is very rich in history. The castel „Etichenstein“ was built in the 11th century by a so-called knight „Eticho“ and was later taken over by the earls of Nassau. Over the years the castle was extended. Finally it was the base for the settlement “Idstein”.
1255 Idstein became the residence of the earl „Walram of Nassau”. From his son, earl Adolf of Nassau (King of Germany 1292-1298), Idstein received 1287 the town charter. Once residence and centre of the administration Idstein could develop itself very quickly, the former “castle” became a “palace”, tradesmen, craftsmen and innkeepers settled around the town, und the urban infrastructure developed as well.
Up to 1600 Idstein grew among different regents of the House of Nassau and became a prosperous town. Even in 1502 the emperor (Kaiser) Maximilian I stayed in the town, when travelling through Germany. Many buildings were built and are evidence of this prosperous period: The Hexenturm (witch tower), the archway-building, extension of the palace, the district court, and many middle-class houses in the “Obergasse” of some rich citizens.
Under the rule of Earl Ludwig II and Earl Johannes, Idstein continued to have it’s golden ages – in spite of the sufferings of the 30-year lasting war: The castle was further more extended, the church was restored, the garden of the castle, the Killinger-House and Hoerhof were built. Later, under the rule of Prince George August (1665-1721), the town wall, the “Himmelstor” (Heaven’s arch) and the Grammer School were contructed.
Financial Support and Tax reduction enabled the townspeople to build more houses and their own town hall (1698). After the death of the Earls of Nassau there were no more successor and The “dolce vita” of the down ceased to exist.
Today - far from Middle Ages
The „dolce vita“ returned to Idstein in the nineties of the 20th century. Today Idstein is a preferred residential area in Germany. It is one of the most attractive towns in the Rhine-Main-Area due to it’s excellent infrastructure and the urban flair of the historical centre. There are good shopping facilities, many hotels, restaurants, and numerous opportunities for recreational activities.
Economy - strength in Germany
In Idstein you can find all facilities, which are essential for a convenient live in a provincial town, such as hospital (Helios Kliniken), protestant (Unionskirche) and catholic (St. Martin) church, district court, sports grounds, swimming bath, banks, all type of schools and many social services.
There are 5 industrial parks, where you can find many supermarkets and internationally operating companies. Some of them export their goods from Germany all over the world.
Festivities - German Gemutlichkeit
Germany has a rich culture. Many customs have been preserved from roman y middle ages. Some of these are: Spring festival, Wine festival, „witches market“, medieval market, Roman festival, Jazzfestival, „Alteburger Markt”, Christmas market
The “Unionskirche” is a protestant church with a rich baroque styled inside decoration. It is unique in Germany.
It was built around 1330 by Count Gerlach, and replaced an older roman styled building.
Around 1670 there was a reconstruction – gothic architecture – where the ceiling and walls of the nave oil painting from Michel Angelo Immenraedt (Antwerp) and Johann von Sandrart.
On the left of the altar, there is the memorial for prince Georg August von Nassau-Idstein and his family (sculptor: Franz Matthias Hiernle). The church was named “Citychurch” and 1917 renamed to it’s today’s name “Unionskirche”
The organ was built 1912 by Walcker (a famous organ constructor since 1781). Today there are many concerts with classical and sacred music.
The townhall was built 1698. It was destroyed on the 14th of February 1928 due to e rock sliding. Reconstructed from 1932 – 1934.
A big fire on November 8, 1947 destroyed some halls and the stairway. The restoration began in 1997 and was finished in summer 1998, when Idstein celebrated the 300 years anniversary of the town-hall.
Old Castle and witch-tower
The oldest building and as well the town’s landmark is the Hexenturm. It was built 1170 as the main tower (donjon) of the castle. Since 1900 it’s name is “Hexenturm” (witch-tower). His shape is similar to a butter tub. It’s height is 42 meters, the walls are more than 3 meters thick, the diameter is 12 meters. There were never held witches in the tower, although there had been several witch trials around 1676/1677 in Idstein. 39 persons had been killed as “witches”.
The palace was built on a rock from 1614 – 1634 (during the 30 year lasting war) in a renaissance style for Earl Ludwig and Earl Johann. Architects were the engineer Jost Heer und his son Heinrich Höer. The interior work was done one year later by Maximilian von Welsch (a German architect who was famous through construction of other castles and fortresses)
At the main entrance there is a big coat of arms of Earl Johann. From 1721 – 1883 the palace served as archive of Nassau. Sind 1946 the palace is used as grammar school (PSI = Pestalozzischule Idstein). Around 1988 the grammar school was enlarged by another building with stories.
The palace garden was constructed from 1650 to 1675 und reconstructed 1990 according to the historical model. Typical for those times was the grouping into 3 types of plants: flower garden, rose garden and economic plants. Earlier there had been a small chapel in the garden, which is today symbolically replaced by a grid / fence.
Killingerhaus (Tourist Information)
This house was built 1615 and is one of the most charming houses in the town, in particular due to it’s innumerable colour carvings. It was built by Johann Conrad Killing, who was a sort of secretary of the earl. It has 3 stories, an impressive face and rich ornaments with typical renaissance themes on the jutty. 1916 the city council of Idstein has bought the Killingerhaus. Today it is the domicil of the Tourist-Information and museum as well.
Höerhof - 5-star hotel
The Hoerhof war primarily built 1625 as the private house of Heinrich Höer, who was architect of the earls of Nassau and who had built the palace. At 1911 the painter (impressionist) Ernst Töpfer (1877 – 1955) and his wife Maria Theresia Klaus bought the house and renovated it completely. The Höerhof was sold 1990 to a private owner, who reconstructed the house anew into a luxurious and romantic hotel and restaurant. So this 5-star hotel attracts businessmen and tourists from all over Germany.
This site of Idstein Germany can answer your questions concerning this fascinating medieval town in Germany: