The birthplace city of Goethe, with its dazzling skyline rising above the river Main and its booming business-as-usual attitude, Frankfurt is often (and no wonder) called Mainhattan by those who know it best. Located in the Hesse state in central Germany and with a population of some 670,000, Frankfurt is Germany's fifth largest city. It is the proud home to the country’s foremost stock exchange and to the European Central Bank, making Frankfurt a powerful financial hub. airBaltic flights to Frankfurt land at the city's enormous international airport, the second-largest in Europe and the ideal connecting airport for many international airlines.
Natürlich! (Of course!) While the official language in Frankfurt is German, English is quite widespread for business reasons and is spoken by most of the younger generation. For travellers who wish to get involved, however, learning a few key phrases certainly does add a little colour to any Frankfurt city-break. No matter how much you learn, schöne ferien! (Have a good holiday!)
See and Do
After much of Frankfurt was levelled by the second world war, the city planners decided on a sharp business look while being careful to protect the surviving culture and history. For a feel of the financial side of Frankfurt’s personality, head to the old Börse stock exchange to observe some limited trading activity (although most of the real action occurs elsewhere). Otherwise, go straight to the top of the Main Tower which, standing at 200 m above the city and open for public entry, is an absolute must for any visit to Frankfurt – and well worth the views.
As for its cultural side, Frankfurt is second only to Berlin in its number of museums, with the best among them found along the Museumsufer section of the Sachsenhausen (south bank) of the river Main. (Walking along the river is a pleasure by itself and a very pleasant way to get to know the city.) The brightest star of the museums is the Städelsches Kunstinstitut with its rich collection of work from a good range of artists, including Renoir, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Rubens. Other museums well worth an hour or an afternoon include the Liebieghaus for its sculpture collection, the Jüdisches Museum overviewing some 200 years of Jewish history in Frankfurt and the impressively wedge-shaped Museum für Moderne Kunst featuring works by both native and international artists. Also of note is the Naturmuseum Senckenberg for its natural history collection, including a few dinosaur skeletons that tend to be among the main attractions. Literary enthusiasts as well as anyone interested in the life of Goethe should find the Goethe-Haus & Museum a positive inspiration.
To explore the surviving architectural history of the city, stop off at the central square called Römerplatz, with the 15th century landmark Römer houses now home to the mayor and the impressive fountain at its centre. Likewise, pay a visit to the Frankfurter Dom dating to the 15th century and noteworthy for being Frankfurt’s oldest surviving structure. Music lovers will delight in the nearly 130 year old Alte Oper (opera house) which, though nearly destroyed in the war, has since been beautifully restored and is well worth attending for an evening performance.
When you’ve taken in the sights, head out to the Zeil for all your fashion and luxury shopping or wander through the weekly flea market in the Museumsufer for its atmosphere, friendly chatter amid the vendors and even an occasional bargain. And at night, leave your hotel behind and revel in a nightlife that lives on techno and proves just how outgoing - and fun - Frankfurt can be.
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