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Gelnhausen Stadtansicht.jpg
Coat of arms of Gelnhausen
Coat of arms
Gelnhausen is located in Germany
Coordinates: 50°12′N 09°10′E / 50.200°N 9.167°E / 50.200; 9.167Coordinates: 50°12′N 09°10′E / 50.200°N 9.167°E / 50.200; 9.167
Country Germany
State Hesse
Admin. region Darmstadt
District Main-Kinzig-Kreis
Subdivisions 6 districts
 • Mayor Thorsten Stolz [1] (SPD)
 • Total 45.18 km2 (17.44 sq mi)
Elevation 180 - 312 m (−844 ft)
Population (2013-12-31)[2]
 • Total 22,099
 • Density 490/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 63571
Dialling codes 06051
Vehicle registration MKK, GN, SLÜ
Imperial City of Gelnhausen
Reichsstadt Gelnhausen
Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire



Capital Gelnhausen
Government Republic
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Founded by
    Frederick Barbarossa

 -  Pledged to Ld Hanau 1349–? 1170
 -  Pledged to counties
    of Schwarzburg
    and Hohnstein

26 May 1349
 -  Hohnstein share
    to Schwarzburg

22 July 1431
 -  Schwarzburg sold
    to Cty Hanau and
    Electorate of the Palatinate

26 May 1435
 -  Hanau extinct; share
    to Lgvt Hesse-Kassel

28 March 1736
 -  Palatinate share
    to Hesse-Kassel

1746 1803
 -  Hesse-Kassel raised
    to electorate

Today part of  Germany

Gelnhausen is a town and the capital of the Main-Kinzig-Kreis, in Hesse, Germany. It is located approximately 40 kilometers east of Frankfurt am Main, between the Vogelsberg mountains and the Spessart range at the river Kinzig. It is one of the eleven towns (urban municipalities) in the district. According to the Institut Géographique National since 1 January 2007 the geographic centre of the European Union is exactly located on a wheat field outside the town at 50°10′21″N 9°9′0″E / 50.17250°N 9.15000°E / 50.17250; 9.15000 (Gelnhausen (27 members)).

For a number of years, the town was home to the United States Army's Coleman Kaserne base. In 1996, the town hosted the 36th Hessentag state festival.


Gelnhausen was founded by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1170, it is therefore nicknamed "Barbarossastadt". The place was chosen because it was at the intersection of the Via Regia imperial road between Frankfurt and Leipzig and several other major trade routes. Frederick had three villages connected by streets and surrounded by a wall. At the same time Gelnhausen received town privileges and a Kaiserpfalz was erected on an island of the Kinzig river. The emperor also granted trade privileges like the staple right which forced traveling merchants to offer their goods in the town for three days.

Hence Gelnhausen initially was a thriving trade city and head of a league of 16 towns of the Wetterau region. However prosperity came to an end already in 1326 when Emperor Louis IV gave the town in pawn to the counts of Hanau, redeemed shortly afterwards. In 1349 Count Günther von Schwarzburg received Gelnhausen from Emperor Charles IV for renouncing his claims as elected King of the Romans, in condominium with the counts of Hohnstein, who sold their share to Schwarzburg in 1431. Schwarzburg was acquired in 1435 by Elector Palatine Louis III and the Hanau, since raised to a county.

Continued plundering in the Thirty Years' War as depicted by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen in his novel Simplicius Simplicissimus made it nearly uninhabitable. In 1736, the extinction of the comital line of Hanau meant the condominium share was inherited by the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, who acquired the Palatinate's share ten years later.

The varying lords made continued attempts to challenge Gelnhausen's imperial immediacy, it however formally remained a Reichsstadt. During the German Mediatisation of 1803 the city became a part of the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, which was raised to an electorate and, after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, was annexed by Prussia. At this time Gelnhausen had completely recovered and with the Gründerzeit economic boom became a centre of the German rubber industry.

From the 1930s Gelnhausen was a garrison town of the German Wehrmacht and, after World War II, of the United States Army. The US Army closed Coleman Kaserne in 2007.


Gelnhausen lies directly along the German autobahn A66. Gelnhausen station is also on the Kinzig Valley Railway a major line between Frankfurt and Fulda. Regional services from Frankfurt to Fulda or Wächtersbach stops in Gelnhausen.

Main sights[edit]

Sights include:

  • Medieval town center
  • The castle, connected to the city's status as direct imperial palatinate town. It was erected at the time of Gelnhausen's foundation southeast of the town on an island in the Kinzig River. The groundwork is stabilized by 12,000 logs. Today it is the best preserved palatinate castle from this era, with remarkable masonry.
  • The Marienkirche, the most recognizable symbol of Gelnhausen. It shows both Romanesque and Gothic architecture elements.
  • The Catholic church of Saint Peter. Its origin lies in the early 13th century; rich citizens of Gelnhausen planned to erect a church within the town, causing a conflict with the Selbold monastery that owned the clerical patronage for Gelnhausen. This conflict was escalated up to Pope Gregory IX who decided in favour of the monastery. From the 13th to the 15th Century the church was used for weddings, baptisms, and funerals. After the Reformation, the building became property of the town. It subsequently decayed and was sold in 1830 to a local merchant. After the demolition of the second tower, a cigar factory was built in it. In 1920, the Catholic community of Gelnhausen bought the church and partly restored it over an 18-year period. A complete restoration took place in 1982–83.

Twin towns[edit]

Gelnhausen is twinned with:

Notable people[edit]

Monument to Philip Reis, an early telephone inventor
  • August Brey, politician, member of the Weimar National Assembly, born August 1, 1864 at Gelnhausen, died 28 July 1937 at Ronnenberg
  • Johann Heinrich Cassebeer, born 1784 at Gelnhausen, naturalist and mayor of Gelnhausen, died 21 April 1850 at Biebergemünd
  • Hans Fischinger, film director, brother of Oskar, born September 15, 1909 at Gelnhausen, lost 1944 in Serbia
  • Oskar Fischinger, film director, born June 22, 1900 at Gelnhausen, died January 31, 1967 in Los Angeles
  • Hans Joachim Fröhlich, forestry scientist and conservationist, born December 16 at Meerholz, Gelnhausen, died December 20, 2008
  • Jost Hoen, German teacher, pedagogue and statesman, born about 1500 in Gelnhausen, died 6 June 1569 in Dillenburg
  • Jeremy Jones, news editor for ABC affiliate KTUL in Tulsa, Oklahoma was born November, 2nd 1981 at Gelnhausen.
  • Tia and Tamera Mowry, actresses, both born July 6, 1978 at Gelnhausen
  • Klaus Ploghaus, athlete (hammer throw, 3rd place in the 1984 Summer Olympics), born January 31, 1956 at Gelnhausen
  • Johann Philipp Reis, inventor of one of the first telephones, born January 7, 1834 at Gelnhausen, died 14 January 1874 at Friedrichsdorf
  • Friedrich Armand Strubberg (1806 –1889) Merchant, physician, colonist in North America. Direct descendant of Frederick I of Sweden. Buried in Gelnhausen.
  • Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, writer, born about 1622 in Gelnhausen, died 17 August 1676 in Renchen. In his famous work Simplicissimus, the sacking of Gelnhausen during the Thirty Years' War is graphically described.
  • Wolfram Weimer, chief editor of the Cicero magazine, born 1964 at Gelnhausen

Like many American soldiers, in 1959 Colin Powell, then lieutenant of the 3rd Armored Division, served at Coleman Kaserne. A street was named after him. During the Second Gulf War there was some discussion about renaming the street because of Germany's stance on the war. The mayor of Gelnhausen strongly objected (before and after photos of General-Colin-Powell-Street at bottom of display:


  1. ^ Old bürgermeister impeached mid-March 2010
  2. ^ "Die Bevölkerung der hessischen Gemeinden". Hessisches Statistisches Landesamt (in German). September 2014. 

External links[edit]