Destination Germany: Why Not Choose… Frankfurt?
Sometimes shunned by tourists, Frankfurt still has a lot to offer. From half-timbered houses in its medieval area of Römerberg, to its countless state-of-the-art skyscrapers, come and discover a city with an exciting historical past and a wealth of cultural offerings, which has today become the fourth financial centre in Europe.
Historical treasures and unexpected culture
Start with a trip back to the Middle Ages while wandering around Römerberg square. Take the time to observe the remarkable architecture of the City Hall, which has withstood the tests of time and history. A few steps from here, behind the majestic Schirn Kunsthalle exhibition centre, Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral is a magnificent example of gothic architecture.
Do not miss Saint Paul’s Church, symbol of democracy in Germany, as it was in this building that the first elected National Assembly were seated in 1848.
In addition to its fascinating historical monuments, Frankfurt is particularly famous for its many skyscrapers, which offer an impressive view, especially from the Main Tower. Another example is the Messeturm (Convention Centre Tower), a majestic skyscraper of 257m in height, built in 1997.
Art lovers will be just as satisfied as architectural enthusiasts. On both sides of the Main River, you can walk over the lovely Eiserner Steg bridge and enjoy a beautiful view of the old city, and you will also find a constellation of museums, each more interesting than the last. The Städel Museum and the Museum of Modern Art are a must-see, but the city also features the Liebig House Sculpture Collection, the German Architecture Museum, the Museum of Applied Art, etc. The list is long as the riverbanks are completely bordered with museums!
Let’s not forget that Frankfurt is the city of the famous poet and novelist Goethe, to whom it pays tribute with a museum and access to the writer’s native home.
If you wish to take a relaxing break between two visits, Frankfurt is entirely surrounded by parks and greenery. However, nothing can be compared to its huge and magnificent botanical garden, the Palmengarten. Its palm greenhouse and its rose garden will amaze you, but not as much as its Tropicarium which contains greenhouses of plants classified according to their biotope : desert, semi-arid regions, savannah , etc.
Finally, after so many discoveries, what would be better than the local drink of Frankfurt, Apfelwein, to relax and refresh? Many taverns, particularly in the Sachsenhausen district, serve this slightly alcoholic cider which is the city’s great speciality.
Top 10 Must-Sees
Römer and Römerberg: in the heart of the old city, the City Hall is one of the focal points of Frankfurt with its facade stretching across three gables, dating back to 1405. As you stroll around Römerberg, you will see other historical monuments, such as: the half-timbered houses from the 15th and 16th centuries, or even the old church of Saint Nicolas, from the 13th century.
Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral: built from 1260 onwards, this cathedral is one of the symbols of the city as it is in this building that ten Emperors were crowned between 1532 and 1792. Damaged during the bombings of the Second World War, the building was quickly restored. Its tower, 95m in height, offers a beautiful view of the surroundings.
Saint Paul’s Church: this Lutheran church, from the 19th century, was the seat of the first democratically elected German Parliament in 1848. It is therefore a symbol of freedom and democracy in Germany. On the ground floor, a permanent exhibition recounts Germany’s long journey towards unification. And in the basement, you can admire a beautiful mural painting representing the procession of the elected towards Saint Paul’s for the opening session of Parliament.
The House of Goethe: rebuilt identically after 1945, the paternal house of Goethe reflects the taste for beautiful things and the love for Italy that his father passed down to him. An exhibition recounts the life of the Goethe family in Frankfurt in the 18th century. Documents relating to the early works of the poet are also displayed.
The Museum of Modern Art (MMK): the MMK ranks amongst the most important contemporary art museums in the world. Since its opening in 1991, it has become an essential component of the cultural and social life of Frankfurt. Its architecture is an icon of post-modernism. Its collection features nearly 4,500 international works of art from the 1960s to today.
The Städel Museum: founded in 1812 by Johann Friedrich Staedel, this museum presents a panorama of the history of European art over nearly 700 years, which makes it one of the most important art museums in the country. Essentially dedicated to European art from the 14th to the 20th century, from the Renaissance, Baroque, Modern Classic eras to contemporary art, it features 3,000 paintings, 600 sculptures, 500 photographs and some 100,000 drawings and diagrams.
The Main Tower: with its facade made entirely of glass, this tower is the best-known skyscraper in Frankfurt. Take one of the lifts up to the 200m high panoramic platform, at a speed of 7 metres per second. Admire the breathtaking view!
The Japan Centre: recognisable with its flat roof, the Japan Centre was built in the 90s and measures 115m. It houses offices, as well as the Consulate General of Japan. The shape of the building is reminiscent of classical Japanese design.
The Westend Synagogue: built between 1908 and 1910, it is the largest synagogue in Frankfurt and is the spiritual centre of Jewish community life in the city.
The Palmengarten Botanical Garden: at the heart of the city, this oasis of greenery, founded in the 19th century, is a truly exotic jungle. From the luxuriant tropical forest and monsoon forest to the humid heat of the mangroves and dryness of deserts populated with gigantic cacti, the Tropicarium offers a panorama of different climatic areas of the planet. A must-see!
Specialities on every street corner!
Among the specialities of Frankfurt, and the most typical, you can taste the grünesoße, a thick sauce that is characterised by its green colour, due to the herbs it is made with. It is traditionally served over hard-boiled eggs and sautéed potatoes.
Cheese lovers can let themselves be tempted by the Handkäse mit musik, rounds of cheese marinated in vinegar with onions, garlic, oil and a little bit of caraway.
And for a delicious meal on the go, try Kleinmarkt halle , where you can enjoy a piece of pork sausage (fleischwurst) or beef sausage (rindwurst), served hot with a small piece of bread, mustard and a pickle.
Have all these good things made you thirsty? You can stop in a Kneipe, a typical bar in the city where you can refresh with a glass of Apfelwein, Frankfurt’s famous apple cider.
March: Luminale (every two years)
Alongside the Light + Building trade fair, the city of Frankfurt offers this cultural festival which showcases various works using lights and light installations in certain buildings as well as public and private places. The Luminale has become an independent event attracting more than 140,000 international visitors.
June - July: Opernplatzfest
Located in Opera Square, this festival features a cultural week with music concerts and piano concertos, as well as entertainment and culinary workshops. A festival between tradition and modern trends, it is the perfect way to start the summer.
August: Apfelwein Festival
Apfelwein is from Frankfurt, just like beer is from Munich. In the Sachsenhausen district, many taverns serve this national drink, known as “Ebbelwei” in the local dialect. And in Rossmarkt Square, many stalls invite you to the festival and to taste this local drink.
October: Deutsches Jazzfestival
This great festival, founded in 1953, is one of the largest jazz festivals in Germany and is the oldest jazz festival in the world. Now an unmissable event, it attracts the greatest names of the international scene every year and offers an eclectic programme.
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