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Giessen, spelt Gießen in German (German pronunciation: [ˈɡiːsən], locally [ˈɡiːzən]), is a town in the German federal state (Bundesland) of Hesse, capital of both the district of Giessen and the administrative region of Giessen. The population is approximately 76,000, with roughly 24,000 university students.

The name comes from Giezzen, as it was first referred to in 1197, which refers to the position of the town between several rivers, lakes and streams.[citation needed] The largest river in Giessen is the Lahn, which divides the town in two parts (west and east), roughly 50 kilometres north of Frankfurt am Main.


Giessen came into being as a moated castle in 1152, built by Count Wilhelm von Gleiberg, although the history of the community in the northeast and in today's suburb called "Wieseck" dates back to 775. The town became part of Hesse-Marburg in 1567, passing to Hesse-Darmstadt in 1604. The University of Giessen was founded in 1607. Giessen was included within the Grand Duchy of Hesse, created in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. After World War I, it was part of the People's State of Hesse.

During World War II, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp was located in the town.[2] Heavy bombing destroyed about 75% of Gießen in 1944, including most of the town's historic buildings. It became part of the modern state of Hesse after the war.

In 1977 Giessen was merged with the neighbouring city Wetzlar to form the new city of Lahn. However, this attempt to reorganize the administration was reversed in 1979.

An American military base was located in Giessen after World War II. The U.S. Army Garrison of Gießen, has a population of 500 Americans. The base is a converted German Army Air Field, which is reflected in some of the buildings, including the housing area. A theatre, known as the Keller Theatre, is a converted German army Officer's Club. As of September 28, 2007, the Giessen Depot, and all other communities in the greater Giessen area were turned back over to the local German authorities.

After the war, the city was twinned with Winchester, UK.[3]
International relations
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Germany
Twin towns — sister cities

Giessen is twinned with:[4]

Czech Republic Hradec Králové, Czech Republic (since 1990)
Hungary Gödöllő, Hungary (since 1988)
Israel Netanya, Israel (since 1978)
Italy Ferrara, Italy (since 1998)

Nicaragua San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua (since 1986)
United Kingdom Winchester, United Kingdom (since 1962)
United States Waterloo, Iowa, United States (since 1981)
China Wenzhou, People's Republic of China (since 2011)

Points of interest

Akademischer Forstgarten Gießen
Botanischer Garten Gießen, established in 1609, the oldest botanical garden in Germany still at its original location.
Old Cemetery, (German: Alter Friedhof), resting place of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen and Hugo von Ritgen.
Liebig-Museum, established in 1920, to honor the chemist Justus von Liebig.
Mathematikum, established in 2002, offering a huge variety of mathematical hands-on exhibits.


Historical drawing of the Akademischer Forstgarten Gießen, 1877

Botanischer Garten Gießen

Theatre in Gießen

Architecture in Gießen

Gießen station

Notable people

Landgravine Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt (1635–1709), Electress Palatine, ancestress of most of today's royals
Johann Georg Rosenmüller (1736–1815), professor of theology at the university
Justus von Liebig (1803–1873), chemist, professor. The official name of the University of Giessen is now Justus Liebig University
Samuel Adler (1809–1891), a noted rabbi in the United States, attended the University of Giessen[5]
Georg Büchner (1813–1837) studied two years at the University of Gießen
Wilhelm Liebknecht (1826–1900), founder of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, was born on March 29, 1826 in Giessen
Adolph Hansen (1851–1920), botanist and professor at University of Giessen
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845–1923), physicist, professor of physics from 1879 until 1888 at the University of Giessen. He was buried at the "Alte Friedhof", where his tomb can still be found
Alfred Milner (1854–1925), British statesman
Wilhelm Sievers (1860–1921), geographer, explorer, professor at the university
Marie Wittich (1868–1931), opera singer
Sigmund Livingston (1872–1946), American lawyer, founder and first president of the Anti-Defamation League
Ernst Friedberger (1875-1932), immunologist
Friedrich Kellner (1885–1970), Chief Regional Auditor in Giessen 1948-1950, and Chief Justice Inspector of Laubach, where he wrote his secret WWII diary. The Holocaust Research Unit of Justus Liebig University of Giessen has established the Kellner Project
Fritz Heichelheim (1901–1968), economist
James J. O'Donnell (b. 1950), American scholar and University administrator, born in Giessen
Stefan Bellof (1957–1985), Formula One and Sportscar driver, who died during a race held in Spa-Francorchamps
Chris Liebing (b. 1968) techno/electronic music producer and DJ
Demis Nikolaidis (b. 1973), Greek footballer
Wangari Maathai, Nobel Laureate 2004
Juli, rock band
Jonathan Koch (b. 1985), rower


MBML: The International Graduate Programme "Molecular Biology and Medicine of the Lung" of the University of Giessen Lung Center
University hospital Giessen und Marburg
University of Applied Sciences Giessen-Friedberg
University of Giessen


Manisch is a dialect of rotwelsch spoken in and around Giessen by people in lower income neighbourhoods, some of which are known as "Eulenkopf", "Gummiinsel", "Heyerweg" and "Margaretenhütte". Approximately 700–750 residents spoke the dialect fluently as of 1976.[6] Although the dialect still influences the Giessen vernacular, it is nearly extinct in terms of fluent speakers.


^ "Die Bevölkerung der hessischen Gemeinden" (in German). Hessisches Statistisches Landesamt. June 2011.
^ Edward Victor. Alphabetical List of Camps, Subcamps and Other Camps.
^ "USAG Giessen Folds Up Tent". Retrieved 2008-05-08.
^ "Gießen: Städtepartnerschaften [Twin towns]" (in German). Stadt Gießen. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967.
^ Hans-Günter Lerch, "Tschü lowi...Das Manische in Gießen", 1976/2005, pages 16-22.

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