A visit to Frankfurt "Mainhattan"

  • Published
  • By Iris Reiff
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
Frankfurt am Main is known as Germany's City of London with its Germany's financial metropolis packed with towering, breathtaking architecture and luxury boutiques. Frankfurt has an impressive skyline defined by the towers of the banks. Some of the country's tallest buildings can be found in Frankfurt am Main. The Frankfurt airport is a hub for European travel. As the birthplace of poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and an important center for art and music, Frankfurt has vast cultural landmarks and experiences, as well as numerous shopping opportunities.

Where is the city located?

Frankfurt lies on the Main River in the state of Hesse within the Rhein-Main region. Nearby are the historic cities of Wiesbaden and Mainz; and, should one become tired of the city life, some of Germany's most beautiful forests and vineyards are within a short distance for people to visit and enjoy.

What is Frankfurt known and famous for?

Frankfurt is known for its financial business. The city is often called "Bankfurt" and "Mainhattan" for its financial institutions and skyline, and its residents are some of the wealthiest in Europe. Frankfurt is also known for its cosmopolitan flair and diversity. Among its 650,000 inhabitants, there are about 170,000 immigrants. Frankfurt has the highest ratio of foreign residents of any German city.

How expensive is Frankfurt to visit?

As the focus for financial business and big local bucks, property and living in Frankfurt can be seriously expensive. However, being located only a weekend away, it is not as expensive as visiting other cities like London, Rome or Paris. Plenty of cheap flights are available to and from Frankfurt. The city is fortunate to have an extremely large variety in shopping and international eating facilities, an outstanding choice of art, museums and galleries. Prices are moderate to high and can be compared to most large European cities.

What does public transportation and the train connection look like in Frankfurt?

Frankfurt is known for its well-organized, public transportation systems. The airport is Europe's largest , an efficient international hub; and the city's underground rail network, rebuilt in the 1970s, is outstanding. Train connections run all the way into the airport.

A bit of history!

Frankfurt was the Frankish emperor Charlemagne's royal residence in the 8th century when it was named Franconovurd (Ford of the Franks). Frankfurt became a wealthy market town and gained in political importance as the site of elections for various German kings and Holy Roman Emperors from the 12th century. In 1372, Frankfurt was declared a free, imperial city able to govern its own finances; and in 1585, Frankfurt's stock exchange was born. Invaders and occupiers, including the French under Napoleon, helped form the city's cosmopolitan cultural identity. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Jewish community rose to prominence as the city's bankers and merchants, but suffered persecution by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1944, Allied bombers destroyed the medieval city center and American soldiers occupied the city the following year. Ever since, Frankfurt has been successful in building up itself, architecturally and commercially.

What is the city like today?

Frankfurt has a fascinating architecture. The city offers ancient structures in the suburbs of Altsachsenhausen, the Altstadt or old part of town, and in Hoechst on the western side of the city. It also reveals post-war restorations on Roemerplatz, much of which was rebuilt in 1986 with ultra-modern buildings, fascinating skyscrapers in the banking quarter, and the wedge-shaped Museum for Modern Art located on Domstrasse in the center of the city.

The lifestyle!

The city remains busy day and night with as much emphasis on leisure as on work life. Local residents enjoy an outdoor lifestyle with cafes, street festivals, walking and picnicking in public parks, and outdoor skating in the winter. Music, festivals and sporting events make a difference to people in Frankfurt.

Where can I find some culture?

Some museums worth highlighting can be found on Museumsufer, the museum waterfront also called Schaumainkai. Among these highlights are the Deutsche Filmmuseum and the Museum Alter Plastik or Museum of ancient Sculpture, set in the beautiful 19th century mansion at Liebighaus. Live music is common in the city and performed everywhere from the Alter Oper, which is the Old Opera House located on Opernplatz, to the center of town in downtown bars, clubs and cabarets near Sachsenhausen.

Where to shop?

Shopping opportunities range from the exclusive boutiques in Goethestrasse near Alte Oper, offering products by Armani, Chanel, Tiffany and Gucci, to the Saturday flea market along the Schaumainkai. In the center, the pedestrian zone, or on the Zeil, people can find a large selection of department stores. One highlight is the super-modern Zeilgalerie mall, which houses fifty stores, including trendy interiors and an emporium Dom. More shopping is available on the roads around the cities Cathedral, to the south of Zeil, or the vintage stores in Sachsenhausen, where people enjoy buying antiques and souvenirs, including the popular Bembel, which is the carafe made of local ebbelwei or apple wine. Delicatessens and wine merchants are available on Grosse Bochenheimer Strasse toward the Alte Oper.

What are some of the food and drink specialties in Frankfurt?

Specialties in Frankfurt are ellelwei, also called ebbelwoi or Apfelwein, which means apple wine. There is also Frankfurter Rippchen, which are pickled pork ribs, and sauerkraut, which is pickled cabbage, or Frankfurter Wuerstchen, which are smoked pork sausages.

Out and about

The best excursions from the city into the surrounding areas are to the north and west of Frankfurt, all easily within distance of public transportation. Taunus is an area of forested hills, dotted with picturesque towns and castles including the popular German spa town of Bad Homburg. The Rheingau area, located west of Frankfurt, provides some of the world's best Riesling wines. The historic cities of Wiesbaden and Mainz, located on either side of the Rhein River, make interesting day trips. Visitors must not miss the magnificent Mainz cathedral and the Taunusstrasse in Wiesbaden for antique shopping.

When to travel?

In March, the annual folk festival comes to town. In fact, the city is the perfect place to be for outstanding music festivals and street events all year round. Two such festivals are the annual Opernplatz festival and the cultural parade that often takes place in Frankfurt during the summer.