Frankfurt is where a New York Skyscraper Skyline meets reassuring Germanic reliability. Germany’s fifth city is rapidly becoming an attractive weekend break.
“Frankfurt’s boring,” say those who have spent their hours slaving away in those soaring icons of high finance. But as ever wealth brings patronage of the arts.
Mainhattan, as this affluent German city on the River Main is nicknamed, has a thriving South Bank of museums. At the end of August, when there are food stalls and music too, the Museum Festival pulls in over 2 million visitors. Take your pick from the Städel and itsworld-classs collection of Art, the cutting-edge German Film Museum, the Museum for Post and Communications, the Sculpture Museum and several more. Some of the Skyscraper Banks also open up, during the Museum Festival, so that the public can view their private art collections.
Admittedly the Money Museum, with some heavyweight lectures on Monetary Policy maybe more Nerd than Cool but as it shuts at the weekend you’ve got a good excuse to give it a miss.
On the North Bank of the River is the recently opened Frankfurt Museum. As a crossroads for trade between Scandinavia and Southern Europe, the city has a rich history. The newly restored Rent House is a reminder of the centuries of tolls collected, the first stone bridge across the wide Main was built in 1223.
In 2020 Frankfurt will open its Museum of Romanticism. As the home of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Frankfurt’s multi-tasking cultural hero – artist, critic, novelist, playwright and statesman – Frankfurt with the Goethe Museum already scores high for its intellectual quotient. Then there’s the Old Opera House with a growing reputation for discovering new talent. Check the programme before you visit as it also hosts an English-speaking theatre.
Recently opened is Frankfurt’s “New” Old Town. Two nights of Allied Bombing in 1944 destroyed Frankfurt’s Medieval Old Town save for one house. For six decades, after the rubble was used for post-war rebuilding, the site was merely a dusty car park.
But it was a car park with history. Twelve centuries ago it had been the route for the Emperor Charlemagne’s Coronation Procession to a square where a fountain of wine helped his people to celebrate. There is a neat link to Frankfurt as host of Europe’s Central Bank as it was Charlemagne who first proposed a single currency for his European empire. A decorative pergola now commemorates that triumphant route: it’s apex also records the height of the rubble after the aerial raids of March 1944 which dropped 27,000 pounds of bombs on the city. The reconstructed charming Old Town, complete with small museums, shops, wine bar and cafes is one reason why Frankfurt will be climbing up the Weekend Break chart.
Manhattan am Main, another nickname, is underrated. Not only does it host the German Stock Exchange with a very appropriate sculpture of Bear and Bull outside its front doors, Frankfurt is also a retail heaven. The shopaholics’ street running alongside the expanding MyZiel shopping mall is Germany’s top grossing retail thoroughfare.
Yet for all the affluence Frankfurt folk are a simple modest people. On Friday night they will happily sit on rustic wooden benches in an old-fashioned style tavern sipping their beloved apple wine greeting friends with a discrete nod, no showy air kissing for them. Come Sunday night it is an early night for the working week: the Puritan work ethic is still ingrained in their souls.
Yet Frankfurters only contribute 50% of the population. It is a cosmopolitan city where half the people are from somewhere else. Consequently, Frankfurt has an eclectic mix of restaurants. As one local whispered, “Why eat German when we can choose from the rest of the world?” Another benefit is that immaculate German is spoken everywhere.
For weekenders, Frankfurt is easy too. From the airport take the S8 or S9 train through to the Hauptwache Station. In 15 minutes you are in the heart of the city. From there it is just a 15 minute walk to the 99 metres high Jumeirah Hotel linking to the MyZiel Mall. The Skyline Suites give superb views of the lights of the Skyscrapers at night. Then at dawn press the bedside button to open the curtains to watch a reflection of the sun ascending those aspirational towers.
Tell me more about Frankfurt
From Frankfurt airport to Hauptwache Station the S8 or S9 costs just €4.90 and only takes fifteen minutes.
Rooms at the Jumeirah Hotel begin from around £250 including breakfast and access to the Fitness First Gym and Swimming Pool at the top of the MyZiel Mall.