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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
 • Mayor Thorsten Stolz [1] (SPD)
 • Total 45.18 km2 (17.44 sq mi)
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

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.


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 1170
 •  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 County of 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 1803
Monument to Philip Reis, an early telephone inventor

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:

Gelnhausen on the Fairy Tale Road[edit]

Gelnhausen is situated between Hanau, the birthpace of the Brothers Grimm, and Steinau an der Strasse, where they spent most of their childhood. See also, Wikipedia Subj "German Fairy Tale Route" and,



Das Gebäude der früheren Augusta-Schule auf der Nordseite des Obermarktes beherbergt das Heimatmuseum. Hier finden sich Ausstellungsstücke aus allen Epochen der Geschichte von Gelnhausen. Die ältesten Fundstücke aus der Gegend sind 300.000 Jahre alt.

Eine besondere Einrichtung ist der sogenannte Fund des Monats. Hierbei wird ein Exponat aus dem Museum im Foyer des Rathauses ausgestellt.


Dieses Museum, das von einer Privatperson betrieben wird, zeigt 35 Turmuhrwerke aus den Jahren 1520 bis 1996. Des Weiteren gibt es eine Reihe von Einzelteilen und Zubehör zu sehen.


Bis 2013 gab es das privat betriebene „Museum für Flugzeugtechnik und Geschichte Friedhelm Wagner“ im Stadtteil Hailer. In sieben Räumen wurden auf einer Fläche von über 200 Quadratmetern mehr als 3.200 Exponate aus dem Bereich Luftfahrt gezeigt. Neben Motoren, Aggregaten, Instrumenten und Bordzubehör waren Originalunterlagen zu sehen. Der Luftfahrt im Kinzigtal war hierbei ein besonderes Augenmerk gewidmet.

Notable people[edit]

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]