Landgrave Philipp der Grossmütige (Philipp the Magnanimous) founded the Alma Mater Philippina, the Philipps-Universität, in 1527. Today, it is the oldest Protestant university and the most dominant feature of Marburg’s townscape. Its institutions are distributed across the town centre, generating the impression that all of Marburg is a university.
Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm studied law here from 1802 and shared a room not far from the historical Town Hall. Contact with one of their lecturers in particular, namely Friedrich Carl von Savigny, inspired both brothers’ interest in science. Aspects of Marburg which today’s visitors find charming and romantic were not viewed with much enthusiasm by the Grimm brothers.
Jacob Grimm wrote: “Marburg’s location and surrounding area is certainly very nice, above all when you are near the castle and look down from there. But the town itself is very ugly. I think there must be more steps on the streets than there are in the houses. One house even has its entrance through the roof.”
A large stock of half-timbered houses dominates the upper town and history-laden buildings waiting to be discovered can be found everywhere. The imposing castle overlooks the city and serves as an orientation point for pedestrians in the many narrow streets. The first purely Gothic hall church in the German cultural area, the Elisabethkirche, can be found in the lower town. This church was erected by the Teutonic Order in honour of Saint Elisabeth (Elisabeth of Hungary) in 1235.