Germany: Darmstadt – Mathildenhohe & Russian Chapel

Darmstadt used to be the capital of the independent state of Grand Dutchy of Hesse, one of the strongest German states of the past. Two attractions, both quite unique, are located here. One is the bizarre looking church of Mathildenhohe where Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig established an artists’ colony in 1899, with the towering wedding tower (there were 19 weddings going on and climbing to the top was closed). Another landmark is the spectacular Russian Chapel, built for the last Russian tzar Nicholas II. His wife Alexandra Fedorovna was actually from Darmstadt, born as Princess Alix of Hesse and Rhine. She liked visiting her hometown and Nicholas II accompanying her. The church was built entirely of Russian stones and material brought from mother country; what’s more – an entire train of soil from Russia brought tons of it for the church’s foundation.