The Southern Hesse Ensemble mainly comprises the landscapes of the Bergstraße, the northern part of the Odenwald region and the plains between the Odenwald and the Rhine river, the Hesse Ried.
Historically, the prevalent type of rural settlement was the Reihendorf, a linear settlement which developed along a road or creek, often in a narrow valley. Industrialisation was championed by the Grand Dukes of Hesse-Darmstadt (1806 to 1918), in contrast to the Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel (1815 to 1866). It resulted in improved traffic infrastructure and good economic development, which the region profits from to this very day. As in the Rhine-Main region, the planning region of southern Hesse has experienced significant growth of its cities, towns and large municipalities over the last decades.
The first building in the Southern Hesse Ensemble is the reconstructed Synagogue from Groß-Umstadt, which is home to a permanent exhibition about life in southern Hesse’s rural Jewish communities.