(ˈmɛlzʊŋən) is a small climatic spa in the Schwalm-Eder district in northern Hesse, Germany
Melsungen lies on the river Fulda
in the North Hesse
Highland. Here the brooks Pfieffe and Kehrenbach flow into the Fulda. A few kilometres downstream, the river Eder
also empties into the Fulda.
The nearest large towns are Kassel
(downstream, about 22 km to the north) and Bad Hersfeld
(upstream, about 32 km to the southeast).
Besides the main town, which bears the same name as the whole town, Melsungen has a further seven centres named Adelshausen, Günsterode, Kehrenbach, Kirchhof, Obermelsungen, Röhrenfurth and Schwarzenberg.
The town had its first documentary mention in 802, but had likely been settled much earlier, in Hallstatt times
(9th to 4th centuries BCE
Already by 1189, Melsungen had developed into a small town (burgus). The town's civic coat of arms also originated in this time.
In the course of its history, Melsungen often changed hands. The fiercest fighting over the town was between the Archbishops of Mainz and the Landgraves of Hesse and Thuringia.
Melsungen achieved its importance from lying at the crossroads of three mediaeval trade roads, the Sälzerweg (east-west), the Nürnberger Straße ("Nuremberg Road"; north-south) and Durch die langen Hessen (roughly "Through the Long Hessians").
In 1554 a fire destroyed parts of the town core.
In 1637 during the Thirty Years' War, the constituent community of Günsterode was laid waste.
From 1821 to 1974, Melsungen was an administrative centre and an independent district seat, until the Melsungen district was combined with the neighbouring Fritzlar-Homberg and Ziegenhain districts.
The town's 14,000 or so inhabitants call themselves Bartenwetzer ("Axe whetters").
Coat of arms
The old seal and today's civic coat of arms have their roots in the late 12th century. Heraldically, the arms might be described thus: In azure a town gate and tower argent – with roof gules surmounted by two finials Or – flanked by crenellated town walls argent.
The town's official blazon describes the roof as "tile-red" – not truly "gules" (ie red). The arms can be traced back to 1577.
Town council consists of 37 members. As of the last municipal elections held on 26 March 2006
, the seats are apportioned thus:
The town executive consists of six councillors and the mayor. Four of these seats are held by the SPD, and one each by the CDU and FDP.
On 28 November 2004, Dieter Runzheimer (SPD) was elected mayor with a 62.8% share of the vote. He took office on 1 March 2005.
Melsungen has partnerships with the following towns:
- Dreux, France, since 1966
- Evesham, United Kingdom, since 1982
- Todi, Italy, since 1985/86
- Koudougou, Burkina Faso, since 1990
- Bad Liebenstein, Thuringia, since 1990
There is also a "friendship" with the Berlin community of Spandau.
Culture and sightseeing
- Fachwerkstadt (compact area featuring half-timbered houses in the Old Town)
- Town Hall (from 1556), with Axe Whetter in the tower
- Schloss (stately home built between 1550 and 1557 by Landgrave Philip) with garden
- Bartenwetzerbrücke ("Axe Whetters' Bridge" built between 1595 and 1596)
- Gothic town church (built between 1415 and 1425)
- Hospitalskapelle St. Georg ("St George's Hospital Chapel")
- Eulenturm ("Owl Tower"; a preserved tower from the old town wall)
- Zweipfenningsbrücke ("Twopenny Bridge" from 1890)
- Stirling-Bau (B. Braun Melsungen AG's Pfieffewiesen Works)
- Handballverein MT Melsungen (champions in 2004/2005 season in the Second Bundesliga, thereby climbing in 2005/06 to the First Bundesliga)
- Melsunger Fußballverein 08 (soccer)
- Melsunger Turngemeinde 1861 (athletics)
- Melsunger Weinfest (wine festival)
- Melsunger Kabarett-Wettbewerb (cabaret contest)
- Bad Liebenstein-Stafette (yearly relay)
- Ahle Wurst (or Aahle Worscht), a kind of Hessian hard pork sausage. Its name is a dialectal form of alte Wurst – "old sausage".
Economy and infrastructure
The town lies on Autobahn A 7
. Federal Highway (Bundesstraße
) B 83 runs through Melsungen and Bundesstraßen
B 253 and B 487 both begin (or end) here.
Melsungen lies on the Kassel—Bebra—Fulda railway line and belongs to the North Hesse Transport Network. In May 2006 the RegioTram line RT5 (Kassel-Melsungen) began running. It connects Melsungen with downtown Kassel without passengers needing to transfer. The line ends where the Melsungen-Süd turning loop is still not finished. Further stations are being built in Melsungen-Schwarzenberg und Melsungen-Bartenwetzerbrücke.
B. Braun Melsungen
(€2,800,000,000 yearly turnover, about 29,800 employees worldwide (2004))
In 1987, Melsungen was the featured city in the Hessentag
, a yearly statewide event in which places are showcased.