The historical townhall and market place of Marburg, Germany.

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One of the joys of Marburg is simply strolling around its steeply winding medieval core. Its focal point is the Marktplatz; on the southern side is the historic Rathaus (1512). From there it’s a steep climb to the Lutheran St-Marien-Kirche, an imposing red-brick church with great views over the lower town. The terrace on the southern side is the place to watch the sunrise, particularly on weekends, and often in the company of students, revellers, dog walkers and rough sleepers.

At the base of the Altstadt’s Reitgasse are the early-14th-century Universitätskirche (University Church), a former Dominican monastery, and the neo-Gothic Alte Universität (1891), still a well-used and -loved part of the Philipps-Universität – the world’s oldest Protestant university. Founded in 1527, it once counted the Brothers Grimm among its student body, which now numbers around 26,000, or a third of the city's population.

If you're lucky enough to catch an English-language tour (adult/concession €4/3) of the Altstadt organised by the Tourist Office, they leave from Marktplatz at 5pm on the first Friday of every month from April to October.

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