With its reputation as Germany’s main business and financial sector, one might not look to Frankfurt as the country’s first port of call for tourists. However, upon arriving, it becomes clear that the city isn’t solely reserved for wealthy bankers and city traders. Located on the River Main, Frankfurt is one of Germany’s most central cities and as such, serves as a thriving hub for nationals and visitors alike.
Frankfurt airport is one of the busiest in Europe and well connected to the city centre both by road or public transport. Without traffic, the drive from the airport to the central station (Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof) can take as little as 15 minutes. The train is also an option with the S-Bahn trains running frequently.
Ibrahim Mustapha is a multimedia journalist having covered news, sport and the BBC since 2008. He also writes his own football blog: www.elevenmanteam.com.
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All About Frankfurt
As stated, Frankfurt is home to Germany’s main central business district. The Innenstadt (inner city) houses a number of major banking and financial institutions as well as the German Stock Exchange. Huge, glass skyscrapers dominate the city skyline and provide both a modern and futuristic look to the area. Perhaps the most distinct of these newer buildings are the Messeturm – with its iconic pyramid perched on top, the famous Deutsche Bank Twin Towers, and the giant Commerzbank Tower which stands at a gargantuan 259m tall. These high-rise buildings create an impressive visual appeal to the city and as such, Frankfurt is sometimes nicknamed “Mainhatten” in reference to the river on which it lies and its similarity to the famous New York City borough.
The city is also home to the European Central Bank, the institution where all key decisions about the Euro and Eurozone are made. Following the recent referendum result that could see the U.K. leave the European Union, it has been rumoured that a number of British based banking institutions could eventually relocate to Frankfurt.
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See The Sites
The city isn’t simply home to large skyscrapers, however. Many of the buildings within Frankfurt retain a lot of the old, more traditional architecture. The medieval tower of Frankfurt Cathedral might not quite hit the heights of the modern structures but its distinctive structure provides a beautiful visual contrast to the numerous glass buildings.
Another example of this is in Opernplatz, right in the heart of the business district where you’d find the Old Opera house. Now used as a concert hall, ‘Alte Oper’ has stood in the heart of Frankfurt since 1880. Even though it suffered a great amount of destruction in the Second World War, the temptation to move away from its traditional look to something more contemporary was resisted as the venue was eventually rebuilt with the same outer facade as when it was inaugurated in the 19th century.
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This is also the case with other areas of the city. A popular area of Frankfurt is the medieval Old Town (Altstadt). One of the more well-known landmarks in this area of the city is the Romer building with its instantly recognisable facade overlooking the Romerberg square. Again, the building, as well as others surrounding it, has required a number of redevelopments and restorations, all the while retaining its classic look. The restored red bricks and unique design of the nearby St Paul’s church provide spectacular imagery that serve as a reminder of the city’s long and storied history.
Romerberg is also the home to Frankfurt’s well-known Christmas Market which usually runs from late November to just before Christmas. Dating as far back as 1393, this is one of the oldest markets of its kind in the country and is a must-see for visitors who are fans of traditional German food, drink, and of course shopping during the festive period.
One of the best ways of seeing many of the sights in the centre of town is to take a tour. The more common open-top bus is available from outside the train station – but for a more unique and specialised experience, the Ebbelwei-Expreß – a one-hour tram ride offering pretzels and drinks, as well as traditional German folk music playing over the loudspeakers. The tour allows patrons to take in the sights of the city such as the Frankfurt Festhalle – home to events such as the worlds largest book fair and Europe’s largest car show – and Willy Brandt Platz where stands the Eurotower and perhaps more eye-catching, the towering monument of the Euro symbol outside.
When it comes to dining and dancing, the city has a thriving nightlife scene with many diverse and varied establishments catering to all manner of tastes. Alt Sachsenhausen, Lined with restaurants and bars, is one of main areas one can experience the livelier side of Frankfurt.
Like the rest of the country, sport is very popular in Frankfurt. At the heart of this is the impressive Commezbank-Arena located almost exactly halfway between the airport and Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, making it easily accessible both by road and public transport for supporters flocking to the stadium to watch any number of the many events hosted there.
The stadium has been home to Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt since its opening in 1925. Originally and perhaps more commonly known as Waldstadion, the ground has seen many changes over the years. The most recent redevelopment and sponsor-influenced name change came in 2005 ahead of the following summer’s World Cup held in the country. The ground has a 51,500 capacity and over the years has hosted not only football, but also ice hockey, track cycling and even American Football more recently. In 1966, the stadium also staged a heavyweight boxing title fight as the great Muhammad Ali defeated German Karl Mildenberger by knockout.
Whatever your reason for visiting, the city of Frankfurt is one of variation, mixing the contemporary with the traditional, creating a unique vibe and making it attractive to an eclectic mix of people. If you’re looking for something slightly different from your German travels than the more commonly frequented Berlin or Munich, then Frankfurt is definitely the place to go.