Fulda, West Germany: Baroque buildings and heaps of history

I have to admit that I’d never heard of Fulda and intended it only as a one-night stopover at the Maritim Hotel there on the way from Berlin to the […]

Written By Noel Maurice

On August 17, 2020
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I have to admit that I’d never heard of Fulda and intended it only as a one-night stopover at the Maritim Hotel there on the way from Berlin to the Mosel wine-growing region in the south-west of Germany. But we were pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be a town centre filled with baroque buildings and tons of history – even if outside of the historical town centre, the rest of the place looked a bit down-at-heel.

Our experience, it must be said, was somewhat coloured by the fact that we spent the first two hours in Fulda rushing around chemists: trying to find the right medicine to deal with the swollen foot of a 12 year old who had managed to step on a wasp twice – or two wasps once – in the course of the previous 24 hour period.

a quick search on booking.com threw up what looked like an amazing option for a night in Fulda

We’d booked quite last minute, as one often tends to do with stopover hotels, and a quick search on booking.com threw up what looked like an amazing option. We could book a family room (two adults, two kids) in the Maritim Hotel, Fulda, for 100€. Looking at the pictures, we couldn’t believe our luck: it looked incredible. And a swimming pool too!

The hotel is built onto the back of the Orangery of the Fulda city palace. Although you drive up to the hotel from the back, the most impressive approach by far – and, surprise, the one in the photo – is if you walk up from the street. From here you walk through the rather grand gates and across the Palace Gardens. This is a large expanse of grass, well-trimmed hedges, expansive walkways and imposing statues. There before you, at the top of a number of wide steps, is the Orangery itself: a wonderful bit of baroque architecture, with high glass doors and intricate stucco, a large statue known as the Flora Vase (apparently built all from a single piece of stone) standing before it.

The frescoed ceiling, some twenty feet above you, is in perfect condition

Walking through the glass doors you find yourself in the Orangery itself, and it’s really quite breathtaking: the frescoed ceiling, some twenty feet above you, is in perfect condition and is a typical display of a Renaissance period scene, with huge candelabra hanging down and figures in stone peering out from wall recesses.

As to the Maritim hotel itself, I’m afraid to say it left me with somewhat mixed feelings. After driving through downtown Fulda we parked in the car park below the hotel and walked up to the lobby. The lobby gets five stars. Large, full of light, genteelly decorated and interspersed with cream sofas, it’s exactly the kind of hotel lobby you hope to find when booking into an unknown hotel.

One of the absolute high points of staying at the Fulda Maritim is breakfasting beneath this extraordinary ceiling
after wafting into the airy, cream-sofa-filled lobby, it was a bit of a let-down.

Unfortunately our room wasn’t one of the ones opening onto this airy brightness; we’d booked a family room (read: room with an extra double bed in it). This room instead was around the corner, down a corridor, down two flights of stairs and out the back. View onto the rear courtyard. It was fine, no real reason to complain, just that after the photos of the front of the Orangery being depicted on booking.com as the face of the hotel and after wafting into the airy, cream-sofa-filled lobby, it was a bit of a let-down.

Our other disappointment was that the pool, which looked amazing in the photos and which guaranteed the parents of two pre-teen boys at least two hours of peace and quiet (with them in the pool and us somewhere else entirely), was closed for repairs. Hm.

The food was reasonable although unfortunately not amazing

Still. Breakfast was conducted in said orangery, and that felt very special. The food was reasonable although unfortunately not amazing. Apart from breakfasting there, upon arrival the previous afternoon in Fulda we’d decided to have a meal on the Maritim Orangery terrace. Despite the heady prices, just because it felt cool (and we didn’t have to walk anywhere). I forget what we chose but we were somewhat disappointed there too, by both the quality and the quantity of the meal.

The service was good though, so there’s that.

The grand and imposing cathedral across the road from the Schloss is the city’s most characteristic landmark, and the most significant baroque church in the state of Hesse. Built at the beginning of the 18th Century, its importance lies also in that it is the resting place of St. Boniface.

the regal Flora Vase is recognised as one of the most beautiful garden sculptures in Germany

The Residence, now functioning both as town hall and museum, was also built at this time and is the centre of Fulda’s baroque quarter, which is definitely worth a look around.

The Residence Garden mixes baroque and English garden styles and leads up to the Orangerie, used by the original prince abbots in the 18th Century for summer parties, with a large terrace. Before it, as mentioned above, stands the regal Flora Vase, recognised as one of the most beautiful garden sculptures in Germany.

Don’t miss the Vorderau museum and a tour through the rooms of the Residence.

All in all I’d recommend Fulda highly and the Maritim hotel too: great for a weekend getaway or a stopover between Berlin and Luxembourg, for example.