Who lives here?
Giessen does seem as big as it really is. In total it counts with 80.000 inhabitants. Therefore it's the seventh biggest city of Hesse. There are two big universities, the general Justus-Liebig-University and the technical college of Middelhesse (THM).
Furthermore, there are the Giessen School of Theology, the Administration and Economics Academy and the Hessian University of Administration and Police. Counting with overall five universities, in Giessen live almost 40.000 students. That corresponds to half of Giessen's population. Giessen has the highest denseness of students in whole Germany.
Where is it?
Giessen covers an area of 70km2 big. As for its geographical position it's the administrative center in Middlehesse.
Nearby cities are Marburg at a distance of 30km and Kassel 100km away situated in Upper Hesse. Fulda is located in the East of Giessen about 80km away.
To the South of Giessen are located several cities, of which Frankfurt on the Main probably is the most known one. It's about 60km away from the center of Giessen. Also in the south of Giessen, there are Butzbach 20km away and Friedberg 30km away.
Only 15km away in the West of Giessen is located Wetzlar. It's one of the cities nearest to Giessen. Further away in western direction at a distance of 50km there is Limburg on the Lahn and by 60km Siegen. 85km from Giessen in the Southwest is another city called Koblenz.
Giessen is divided in six districts and eleven statistical districts. The six official districts are the nucleated town, Wieseck in the North, Rödgen in the Northeast and Kleinlinden, Allendorf and Lützellinden all in the South.
Allthough Giessen officialy consists out of six districts, there are way more different names for small areas that all, actually, belong to the nucleated town. There are the city center, the Nordstadt, the Südstadt or Uniklinikum, the Oststadt or Philosophikum, the Weststadt and the Schiffenberg. Moreover, there are areas having names based on particular street names or buildings. E.g. Gummiinsel (called after a nearby rubber mill), Philosophenwald (a nearby bus station), Eulenkopf (a street) or Schlangenzahl (a developement area).
The population of this area makes three quarters of Giessen's entire population.
First discoveries of Giessen lead back to the 12th century, as Giessen was founded in 1152 as a moated castle by Wilhelm von Gleiberg. It was first called "Zu den Giezzen". The history of the nearby village Wieseck leads back to the year 775. In 1236/37 Giessen received its town charter.
The old city hall in Giessen was built about 1450 and the townchurch about 35 years later. Unfortunately, the city hall was destroyed completely during World War II and of the townchurch remains only the church tower.
After the death of the landgrave Philipp I in 1567 Giessen became part of Hesse-Marburg. In 1604 passed away the landgrave Ludwig IV, thus Giessen changed again to be a part of Hesse-Darmstadt.
In 1607 the protestant land university was founded in Giessen. Now it's called Justus-Liebig-University after the famous chemist Justus von Liebig. Two years later opened the botanic garden in Giessen. It's one of the oldest in entire Germany.
In 1634/35 the Black Death reached Giessen, for this reason a lot of people died.
As for the growing interest in literature in the 18th century plenty of new newspapers, openings of book shops and other literature-related places emerged all over the area.
During the French Revolution Giessen was invaded by various forces. As austrian forces had to retreat the French invaded Giessen on July 8th of 1796. In september of the same year occured many fights in the town which the austrians won and hence regained Giessen but had to retrait again in 1798. The french general Michel Ney ocupied the town until the 1st of September when it finally was freed. Though french forces tried to loot the library of the university, the library was guarded successfully by the headmaster August Friedrich Wilhelm Crome and the future king Carl XIV.
During the Napoleonic Wars the Grand Duchy of Hesse was founded in 1806 and included Giessen to it.
From 1824 to 1852 the chemist Justus von Liebig taught at the University of Giessen which afterwards was named after him. In the Revolutionary Year of 1848 occured riots in Giessen where one student died.
As to the opening of the Main-Weser-Railway connecting Frankfurt with Kassel in 1849 Giessen was firstly included to the german railway system. During the next 50 years emerged various railway connection in the region. This led to a remarkable growth of the city.
From 1879 to 1888 the physicist and first Nobel prize laureate Conrad Röntgen was a professor at the University of Giessen. After his death he was buried at the old graveyard on personal demand.
The biggest town church by that time the "Johanneskirche" celebrated its inauguration in 1893.
On July 27th of 1907 the city theater was opened in Giessen. It goes back to a citizens' initiative demanding a permanent spot for spectacles to mark the tercentenary of the University. Two-thirds of the needed construction sum were donated by citizens of Giessen. That's why above the front gate it's still saying "Ein Denkmal bürgerlichen Gemeinsinns" (approx.tr.: As a memorial of public spirit).
After the World War I came to an end Giessen became part of the People's State of Hesse.
On the area of the current "Ami-Viertel" was in the past an airport. It was there from 1925 till the end of WWII in 1945. Later, there was the US-Depot built.
On November 11th of 1938 Giessen becomes urban municipality along with the incorporation of Wieseck, Kleinlinden and Schiffenberg. Therefor the population in 1939 amounted to 42.000 people.
Until 1942 over 1000 jewish had ben transported to nazi extermination camps. After two airstrikes on December 2nd and 6th of 1944 the city was almost completely destroyed, especially the historic city center was a target of heavy bombing, though the railway equipment and military installations remained mostly intact.
On March 27th of 1945 war was finished in Giessen due to the invasion of american forces that day. Over all were 67% of the city were destroyed thereof 90% were destroyed of the city center.
After the flow Giessen was reached by a huge flow of refugees from all over the region. The rehabilitation of the city during postwar period brought plenty of buildings about. They were all characteristic for the architectural style of the fifties and sixties. The buildings of the city council at Berliner Platz are a good example of this style, allthought they've been outlined because of disrepair. The already existent radial street were reconstructed to multilane roads. Until 1975 there were constructed new freeways all around the city, also the Giessener Ring was built at this time.
From 1945 to 1981 Giessen was part of the Region Darmstadt. On 1st October of 1971 the districts Allendorf and Rödgen were incorporated to Giessen and therefor amounted to a population of 78.000 people. From 1st January of 1977 to 1st August of 1979 Giessen belonged together with Wetzlar to the new formed city called "Lahn". It was a try to reorganize both cities but failed after only 31 months. Due to this administrative changes Lützellinden was incorporated to the city of Giessen and on the 1st of January of 1981 the Region Giessen was founded.
In 2005 the new shopping center, including parking lots, "Galerie Neustädter Tor" was inaugurated.
The new city hall was built from 2006 to 2009 and on May 16th of 2009 it celebrated its grand opening.
On September 28th of 2007 the US military base, now called "US-Depot" and "Ami-Viertel", in Giessen was turned back to local german authorities.