Architectural History

The grounds on which the artists' colony Mathildenhöhe, Wedding Tower and exhibition halls stand, was used as a vineyard for many centuries because of its location. In 1800 Prince Christian, the younger brother of Ludwig I., commissioned a public park on the grounds. The park was presented as a gift to Grand Duke Ludwig III and his wife Mathilde, after whom the park would later be named, to commemorate their 1833 marriage. Today, only the plane tree grove remains of this park.
Since 1880 the municipal water reservoir is located at the highest point of the hill. In 1899 the Russian Chapel, built for Alexandra of Hesse and her husband Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, was officially inaugurated. In July of the same year Grand Duke Ernst-Ludwig of Hesse (1868-1937) founded the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony.

The Duke presented Mathildenhöhe Park to the Darmstadt artists’ colony for building development. Together, the Grand Duke and the artists contrived to have the newly constructed buildings of the artists’ colony be the object of the first exhibition. The title of the first exhibition was entitled “A Document of German Art” (exhibition opening May 15, 1901).

In the "Darmstädter Tagblatt" on 7 and 8 March 1906 the architect Olbrich wrote: "The Wedding Tower’s vertical mass, connected to the horizontally mounted building structures of the exhibition house, then form the monumental unit which grows as a landmark of the cityscape. From a distance, as seen in the vicinity, this fulfils a monument duty: a silent, but eternal symbol of the enthusiasm of the citizens at a time of life’s happiest celebrations!”