Wilhelmstrasse – the so-called “Rue” – runs north–south through the city, its western side a flâneur’s paradise of upmarket boutiques, elegant cafés and hotels, many of them long established behind florid, late nineteenth-century facades.
On the eastern side of Rue, the gardens and the central pond Warmer Damm provide a verdant setting for the Hessisches Staatstheater, a turn-of-the-twentieth-century pile built at the behest of Kaiser Wilhelm II by the renowned Viennese theatre architects Fellner and Helmer, and a rarity in a large German city for preserving its graceful auditorium in its original neo-Baroque style. The extravagant neo-Rococo foyer, built in 1902, now functions as a breathtakingly opulent bar. Even if you don’t go to a performance, it’s worth asking whether any of the tourist office’s themed guided tours is due to visit. The theatre’s relatively inconspicuous main entrance is in the colonnaded group of buildings surrounding the Bowling Green to the north.