What to See in Frankfurt am Main
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Germans’ best-known writer and polymath, is deeply respected here, in his native city. The local tourist offices proudly offer many guided tours following the most important places in the city related to the genius and the time he spent here.
The Goethehaus (Goethe House) and the attached Goethe Museum give an insight into his childhood and early life by paintings and documents related to the writer. You can also see the desk where Goethe wrote his early works including “The Sorrows of Young Werther’, that gave him instant fame in 1774. View the WEBSITE.
The Goethe Universität, named in his honor, was founded in 1914 and fielded many Nobel Prize laureates. Today the university works with over 38,000 students on 4 major campuses, and the Goethe Business School offers one of the world’s top finance programs. The school maintains the Botanischer Garten der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, the city’s first botanical garden and arboretum, created in the 18th century, which contains 7 hectares of over 5000 species from all over the world.
A great place to visit with kids, the Palmengarten, has a duck pond with fish, turtles, row-boats, a choo-choo train, 2 playgrounds, a water play area, and a German-speaking kid’s theatre, providing fun for the entire family. www.palmengarten.de
Goetheturm (Goethe Tower), with its name also honoring the mastermind, is Germany’s tallest wooden observation platform and offers a magnificent view of Frankfurt’s skyline. The surrounding park can offer a nice time outdoors with its paddling pool, restaurants, and playground on warmer days. It is conveniently located on the northern edge of the woods of Sachsenhausen near the city.
Gerbermühle (Tanner’s Mill) is one of Frankfurt’s oldest hostelries which was also Goethe’s favorite place to stay. He developed romantic feelings for the owner’s foster daughter that inspired him towards longer and more frequent stays. His love for Marianne and the countryside which he was exposed to here also inspired many poems. Today, Gerbermühle functions as hotel, restaurant, bar, and beer-garden, where trying the famous and traditional Apfelwein (apple wine) or the Handkäs’ mit Musik (regional, aged, marinated, and handcrafted cheese with rye bread) is a must, along with the rest of their great German dishes. www.gerbermuehle.de
And If you arrived with a thick wallet or a huge credit line, you have to visit Goethestraße, which is Frankfurt’s most luxurious street, where you will find the most exclusive designer stores with high-end products.
Caricatura Museum opened its doors just recently, in 2008, but it quickly became one of the “must see” attraction hotspots of Frankfurt. Honoring the German satirical art, this place with over 4,000 original caricatures features the highest humor content of any museum in the world. With temporary and permanent exhibitions, a media lounge, readings, and book presentations, it provides an exciting overview of the comic art while presenting the works and achievements of the legendary Neue Frankfurter Schule (New Frankfurt School). www.caricatura-museum.de
Before the Holocaust, Frankfurt had the second largest Jewish community in Germany. Their history, from their settlements in the 12th century to the dark times of the Nazi terror and the following post-war struggle with re-integration into the society, is covered by The Jüdische Museum (Jewish Museum), which is housed in the former Rothschild Palais. To the museum belongs the Jugendgasse Museum on Börneplatz, that traces the every day life of the Jewish people from the 15th to the 18th century by showing five residential buildings, two ritual baths, two wells, and a canal from the former Judengasse which was destroyed in 1938 during the World War II bombings of the city. The Old Jewish Cemetery, used from 1272 to 1828, is located here, too, but is closed to the general public. Still, the Neuer Börneplatz memorial, with 11,000 small blocks set into the cemetery wall, remembers and names those Frankfurt Jews who were deported and murdered during the Holocaust. www.juedischesmuseum.de
The Städel Museum with 2,700 paintings, over 100,000 drawings and prints, around 600 sculptures, and a library of 100,000 books and 400 periodicals, is one of Germany’s most important art collections. Botticelli, Degas, Rembrandt, and Vermeer are just a couple of the great European artists throughout 7 centuries which the museum displays. www.staedelmuseum.de
Museum für Moderne Kunst has an enormous exhibition of contemporary art which is well worth the visit for those interested tourists. The building, designed by the Viennese architect Hans Hollein, has a post-modernist design and gives a home for excellent collections where fantastic works from Andy Warhol, Liechtenstein and Beuys are on display. www.mmk-frankfurt.de
The Naturmusem Senckenberg (Senckenberg Natural History Museum) offers a fantastic experience for the entire family. With a dinosaur hall, incredible collection of stuffed animals from all over the world, minerals, rocks, mummies, hominids, evolution exhibits, and its exhibition on the planets and life on Earth, the museum explains the great scientific findings of biology, paleontology and geology. www.senckenberg.de
Formerly called Samstagsberg, Römerberg has been the home of the government since the 15th century, giving a site for markets, fairs, festivals, executions, elections, and coronations.
The square’s beauty reached its prime in the 16th century when the Gerichtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) was created in its center. The Goddess Justitia (Justice) is shown with the scale and the sword in her hands, but her eyes are unusually unfolded and she looks straight at the Römer, the city hall. The water coming from the breasts of 4 water nymphs in the corners on the pedestal symbolizes fertility.
The Römer, Frankfurt’s famous town hall, which was originally constructed in Gothic style between the 15th and 18th century, is one of the city’s most important historical buildings. Its name refers to the Romans that had settlements here long before the city of Frankfurt was founded.
The Seufzerbrücke (Bridge of Sighs), named after the famous bridge in Venice, connects the main building with one of its wings, and is just one of the many expansions the town hall went through in its long past. In the 20th century, another remarkable part as added to the complex, the tower Langer Franz (Tall Franz/Frank), which at the time of its construction, with its 230 ft height, was the tallest building in the city. Kaisersaal, the large historical hall, contains portraits of 52 German kings and emperors, and many of them were coronated here, in Römerberg. The square also remembers its famous book burning in 1933 by a plaque in the cobblestones. Also noteworthy is the Historical Museum located in the square, that shows cultural and historical objects relating to the city’s history.
The Alte Oper (old opera house) was inaugurated for the first time in 1880, financed by the art-loving citizens of Frankfurt. During the city’s World War II bombing, the building was almost fully destroyed and its future became questionable when the city planned to build a modern office building on its spot, instead of reconstructing the old opera house. However, the great Frankfurters campaigned and reached deep in their pockets again, and they collected 35 million Deutsche Marks, saving their beloved music institute. Finally, in 1981, the second inauguration of the Old Opera House was celebrated. Today,there are about 300 concerts yearly, along with music festivals, song evenings, readings, lectures, congresses, company anniversaries, and glamorous gala evenings, all held in this elegant building.
The Frankfurt Zoological Garden was opened in 1858 as Germany’s second zoo. The 13 hectare menagerie is famous for its impressive collection of over 5,000 animals of more than 600 species.