THE BKB TRAVELGUIDE “3 DAYS IN”
You will find detailed information in our travel guide “3 Days in Frankfurt“: A schedule for three days, a city map, special tips and the BKB address service. We will show you the highlights, walk with you into nice quarters, have breaks and tell nice stories … just as much as you need for three days!
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The texts and images on our website are to help you get your bearings and plan your trip to Frankfurt. All information have been carefully researched by the 3-Days-in editorial team and they are continually updated. Nevertheless, it is possible that individual details are incomplete or out of date. We are therefore grateful for every correction or addition to our information. Please send your hints to: firstname.lastname@example.org
TIPS FROM THE VISIT-THE-CITY EDITORS FOR YOUR 3-DAY TRIP TO FRANKFURT
In all periods, the people of Frankfurt have given a high priority to art and culture. It was the home of the greatest poet of the German language, Goethe. The world’s oldest jazz festival was founded here, and techno music was born in the city. It has a unique “museum mile” and the world’s largest book fair. To this day the city can justly be proud of its extensive and varied cultural life, which combines the established with the experimental.
By walking through the center of the city you learn what bourgeois resistance was able to do, what bull and bear stand for and how Frankfurt’s most famous son used to live. Finally, the walk leads you to the city’s most famous landmark, where the city hall has been located for over 600 years, and to the site of German coronation celebrations.
THE OLD OPERA HOUSE
The Alte Oper, a monumental late classical building in High Renaissance style that is seen as Germany’s most beautiful concert hall and was dedicated by the citizens of Frankfurt to “Truth, Beauty, Virtue”. Pegasus, the winged horse on which all poets ride, stands in symbolic majesty on the roof, and a quadriga of panthers that once adorned the city theatre crowns the gable.
Whereas the exterior has been almost completely restored to its original appearance, visitors get a surprise after entering: within the historic outer walls the reconstruction created an entirely new interior that meets the technical requirements of a concert hall and modern congress centre. Only the foyer and vestibule recall the original interior fittings of the opera house as it was designed by the architect, Richard Lucae.
“FRESSGASS” – HAVE A SNACK, LUNCH OR DINNER
The Bockenheimer Strasse, probably Frankfurt’s best-known street for a culinary stroll, which has now officially been given the name Fressgass (“eat street”). Here delicatessens, cafés and restaurants rub shoulders and invite passers-by to stop for a snack. The street already had its nickname around 1900 because it was the larder for the Westend, then a residential area favoured by high-class citizens, and was home to an unusually large number of butchers, bakers, delicatessens and old-established eating houses.
RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF FINANCIAL BUSINESS
Take a short detour to the building in front of which massive sculptures of a bull and bear symbolise rising and falling share values respectively. If you want to find out whether the trading floor is still filled with wildly gesticulating dealers who communicate by sign language and make agreements by shouting, book a tour at the visitor centre.
But do not be disappointed, most businesses are online today and at a pace that is hard to keep an eye on.
THE “HAUPTWACHE” – TIME TO RELAX
This spacious square, where once criminals were executed or punished in the stocks, is a good place for a break. It takes its name from the single-storer Baroque building with a lovely arcade which was the main watch station of the city defence force and also contained a prison, where among others the famous brigand captain Schinderhannes was held.
Today, this Frankfurt landmark not only is an urban transportation hub. It especially is a popular meeting place in the heart of the city and a remarkable café.
THE HOUSE GERMANYS MOST FAMOUS POET WAS BORN
In Grosser Hirschgraben, site of the parental home of Frankfurt’s greatest son. At this house Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born on 28 August 1749 “at the stroke of twelve”. The present building, a reconstruction of the house of Goethe’s parents, is an attractive example of 18th-century living and the styles in vogue at that time. In the Kabinett exhibition you can find out everything about the house and its inhabitants, as well as about Goethe’s life in Frankfurt and his early work. It is a special experience to visit the Dichterzimmer, the room in which Goethe wrote (“Götz von Berlichingen” and “The Sorrows of Young Werther”) his early works.
THE PAULSKIRCHE – A SYMBOL FOR UNITY AND FREEDOM
The oval, Neoclassical sandstone building is the pre-eminent symbol of German democracy. On 18 May 1848 the National Assembly, the first freely elected parliament representing the whole of Germany, convened here to prepare German unification and a constitution for a united Germany. Although the establishment of a nation state was prevented by the interests of the Prussian and Austrian monarchies, important parts of the constitution were incorporated in the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany. That is why John F. Kennedy described the Paulskirche as the cradle of democracy when he visited Germany in 1963.
THE RÖMER – HERE YOU CAN FEEL THE HISTORY
The Römerberg has been at the heart of the old quarter since the Middle Ages. At its centre stands the Fountain of Justice, from which wine sometimes flowed rather than water during coronation festivities. From here there is a good view of the building on the west side of the square, which with its characteristic Gothic three-gabled façade is the emblem of the city. The whole town hall complex is called the Römer after the middle house. As the old town hall was no longer adequate for the ceremony of electing kings, in 1405 the city built the Römer and acquired a second house. In the course of time the rambling town hall complex emerged through the purchase of other buildings. However, no part of it is original today, as the entire old quarter with its 2000 timber-framed buildings was destroyed in the Second World War and partly reconstructed after 1945.
FRANKFURT AT NIGHT
You look for a place to have cocktail before dinner, for a drink after your visit the opera or for just for dancing? With a view of the skyline or in the dim basement light, in the Frankfurt nightlife you will find everything your heart may desire! The Frankfurt common drink is the famous Ebbelwoi (cider), you can drink everywhere in the pubs. But beware! The Ebbelwoi does not initially taste as if it were alcoholic. But at least after the third glass you will feel the effect. So be careful with this enjoyment.
Dribbdebach, literately “over the river Main” is the district around the Große Rittergasse. It is known far beyond the city limits of Frankfurt as a nightlife district. Narrow, cobbled streets and half-timbered houses characterize the picturesque image of the Ebbelwoi quarter, which becomes especially in the evening the attraction for night owls because of the quaint Ebbelwoi pubs. Its name “Sachsenhausen” has this district of the Saxons, which Charlemagne said to have settled here after his victory.
In the morning, you can stroll along Germany’s unique museum mile passing magnificent villas of old times and modern architecture, and may take a look behind the film scenes before you visit famous sculptures. In the afternoon you have enough time to stroll and shop on the Zeil or other places in Frankfurt.
A PROMENADE FOR PEOPLE AND MUSEUMS
The morning is spent strolling along Germany’s unique “Museum Mile”, past magnificent villas from past centuries and modern architecture, with a view behind the scenes at the movies before taking a look at some famous sculptures. The former head of the city cultural department, Hilmar Hoffmann, had the idea of transforming the banks of the Main in Sachsenhausen between the Eiserner Steg and the Friedensbrücke into a mile of culture and art. In the 1980s existing museums were expanded, beautiful patrician villas converted into exhibition spaces, and superb new buildings by international architects constructed.
MUSEUMS LIKE PEARLS ON THE CORD
Eight museums lined up like a string of pearls have an unique cultural offer. Behind the Ironbridge, in the park of the Villa Metzler, you find the Museum of Applied Arts, for which Richard Meier designed a light-flooded new building. It has the form of three white cubes and is integrated into the ensemble of the classical villa and the park.
The Museum of World Cultures, which presents contemporary art from America, Africa, Oceania and Indonesia, and the Film Museum are followed by the German Architecture Museum, a spectacular house-in-house designed by Oswald Mathias Ungers.
The Museum of Communication is located in the glass and steel construction next to the villa of the former Federal Postal Museum.
GERMAN MUSEUM OF FILM ART
This museum is not just a treat for real film enthusiasts, but also presents movie history in a way that non-specialists can relate to. On the first floor you can find out about the visual effects and optical illusions that entertained the public in the days before films were invented, and how moving pictures evolved.
You can learn about technical apparatus such as the panorama and magic lantern and how they worked, go inside a camera obscura that is directed to the river Main and the Frankfurt skyline, and relive in a reconstruction of the Parisian Grand Café how the Lumière brothers made the first-ever public film projection with their cinematograph on 28 December 1895.
THE LIEBIGHAUS – WHERE SKULPTURES LIVE
When the weather is fine, the idyllic little park of the villa built in 1896 for Baron von Liebieg, a textile manufacturer from Bohemia, is a charming spot to take a rest. Here statues of Athena and Marsyas hint at what is to be found inside the villa: a museum that is among the world’s most important for ancient and historic sculpture, telling a 5000-year story from the sculpture of ancient Egypt to the Neoclassical age.
You can find out how the tombs over which the pyramids were built were once decorated, how the burial grounds outside the walls of Athens looked, and what the significance of public spaces was for presenting art in ancient Rome.
For a rest after visiting the museum, the café in the courtyard of the Liebieghaus with its home-baked cakes is a wonderful oasis. Enjoy your brake there and be inspired by the outrageous atmosphere of the museum.
AFTERNOON: SHOPPING AS YOU LIKE IT
Armani, chocolate or lifestyle, tailor-made or prêta- porter, Frankfurt has many places where you can shop to your heart’s content. If you stroll along the Zeil from Konstablerwache to Hauptwache, you are on the shopping street with the highest turnover in Germany, where large department and fashion stores, branches of international chains and unusual shops such as those of Adidas and Puma tempt you to go on a spree, or at least window-shopping.
If you like to admire the creations of leading designers, walk a little further towards the Alte Oper and into Goethestrasse, which is regarded as Frankfurt’s Fifth Avenue. For a contrast take a detour into the Kleinmarkthalle (little market hall) at Hasengasse 5–7: the city’s favorite food market occupies the site where Germany’s oldest market hall once stood.
Some of the shopping streets in quarters outside the city centre are also attractive. Berger Strasse, for example, in the district of Bornheim, has lots of little shops, cafés and pubs that make it one of the most popular places to go strolling and shopping.
Today it is time to see Frankfurt’s skyline up close, before you encounter a Tyrannosaurus Rex, walk through all the vegetation zones of the earth and get to know interesting plants such as Mother-in-Law or Bolt Tree. Last but not least, the Städel Museum with late medieval panel painting, baroque landscapes and outrages portraits invites you to a journey through the centuries of art history.
A LOOK FROM ABOVE
Can you imagine that the Kaiserdom at 96 meters height was the tallest building in Frankfurt until the 1950s? When you look towards it today from the other side of the Main, you see almost 100 skyscrapers. Along with the church towers in the foreground, they dominate the city skyline, and by way of comparison with Manhattan in New York have given Frankfurt the nickname Mainhattan.
You should visit the Maintower to get a look over the whole of Frankfurt. The city’s fourth-largest building is 200 meters high and contains a viewing platform.
A BEAUTIFUL PLACE FOR PLANTS AND PEOPLE
Frankfurt’s best-known park is by no means devoted to palm trees alone! Here you can see plants from all over the world – from rainforest jungle to hot and humid mangrove swamps and arid desert landscapes. You can visit hothouses, walk through themed gardens past little fountains and ponds and lie down to sunbathe on the lawns.
Behind the main entrance at the historic palm house of 1869, which adjoins the building of the founding society, the Palmengarten-Gesellschaft. With a length of 52 metres and a width of 30 metres it is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. The citizens of Frankfurt are specially proud of the Chinese hemp-palms near the entrance, which are survivors from where the Palmengarten was founded.
Inside you will find a lush, subtropical landscape with large palm trees, giant perennials, tree ferns and foliage plants. You should definitely visit the flower house at the nursery, where a large sea of flowers extends over 200 square meters all the year.
THE STÄDEL – PAY A VISIT TO OLD AND NEW MASTERPIECES
Whether you prefer late medieval panel painting, Baroque landscapes, portraits or still-lifes, the Städel Museum invites you to take a journey through the centuries. A garden full of plants and flowers, a lady absorbed in a book, a child making music, men singing – it looks like a scene at court in a palace grounds, and it was chosen early in the 15th century by the Oberrheinischer Meister (master of the Upper Rhine) to set the scene for a depiction of the heavenly paradise with the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child surrounded by saints.
This “hortus concludes” was regarded at that time as a symbol of the immaculate nature of the Virgin. The best-known painting in the Städel, certainly for German art lovers, is to be found on the first floor – even though the proportions are not right and it depicts two left feet. It portrays Frankfurt’s most famous son sitting on an obelisk with a flat landscape of ruins and the Alban Hills in the background. Tischbein’s Goethe in the Roman Campagna came to the museum in 1887 as a gift from the Rothschild family. It became the best-known portrait of the poet and has influenced our conception of Goethe’s appearance to this day.
Your journey through the art of the 19th and 20th centuries that provides encounters with currents in German painting: the Romantic movement is exemplified by Caspar David Friedrich’s Landscape with Rosenberg, the Biedermeier period by Spitzweg’s Lover of Roses, Realism by Wilhelm Leibl’s Elderly Farmer and Young Girl and Expressionism by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Varieté. French Realism is represented by Courbet’s Wave, and Impressionism by paintings such as Degas’ Orchestra Musicians and Manet’s Croquet Party.
Credits: all fotos are BKB Verlag exept loading cargo: Fotolia Urheber: Maria, Foto-ID #95648980; Bahn: © PIA Stadt Frankfurt am Main, Foto: Rainer Rüffer; Torhaus Messe: Messe Frankfurt GmbH; Palmengarten: © PIA Stadt Frankfurt am Main; Besucher im Städel/Renoir: Städel Museum/Foto: Norbert Miguletz