Grube Messel

Top choice archaeological site in Darmstadt

A Unesco World Heritage Site, this one-time coal and oil shale quarry 10km northeast of Darmstadt is renowned for its superbly preserved animal and plant remains from the Eocene era (some 47 million years ago). Early horses found here illustrate the evolutionary path towards the modern beast. A picturesque half-timbered house 3km south of the visitor centre houses a fossil-filled museum. You can visit the pit with a German-speaking guide or pre-arrange an English-speaking tour (extra €20 per group).

Some 40,000 fossils have been unearthed to date. Other interesting finds from the site are showcased at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt and the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt.