Top Famous Places in Frankfurt, Germany

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This old imperial city on the Main River – hence its full name, Frankfurt am Main – is, due to its central location, an important commercial and economic center. The city skyline, dominated by the large group of tall buildings in the banking district, has a distinct North American flavor, which has earned Frankfurt the nicknames “Mainhattan” and “Chicago on the Main”. Considered a global city – it frequently ranks among the top ten cities for living and doing business – Frankfurt has also long been an important center for cultural and tourist activities. Its huge trade fair complex, Messe Frankfurt, hosts important events such as the Frankfurt Book Fair (the most important publishing event in the world). The city is known for its exceptional number of beautiful museums covering art, science and history.

1. The Römerberg: Frankfurt’s Old Town Center

The Römerberg: Frankfurt's Old Town Center

In the heart of the old town of Frankfurt (Altstadt), the Römerberg is an irregularly shaped square with the fountain of justice (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen) in its center. Not only is it the most picturesque public square in Frankfurt, it is the busiest pedestrian area in the city and is home to many tourist attractions and things to do. These include its many open-front stores, once common in the old town, and Römer, with its 11 beautiful buildings, faithfully rebuilt in 1954 from original plans from the 15th to the 18th century. The historic house in Wertheim survived the 1944 air raids that destroyed much of old Frankfurt.

The area also includes the old town hall (Altes Rathaus), with its imperial hall (Kaisersaal), formerly the scene of splendid banquets, and other notable buildings include the new town hall (Neues Rathaus) of 1908; the 14th century Gothic Saint-Léonard church; and the Saint-Nicolas church, with its carillon. The Historisches Museum, founded in 1878, with its collections linked to Frankfurt’s rich cultural history from the middle Ages to modern times, and the six traditional style buildings of the Ostzeile are also interesting.

2. The Museum District

The Museum District

The museum district of Frankfurt (Museumsufer), on the south bank of the Main River, is a first-rate collection of separate museums, many of which are internationally renowned. Highlights include the Museum of World Cultures (Museum der Weltkulturen), considered one of the best ethnological museums in Europe. Founded in 1904, its collections include more than 65,000 artifacts from as far away as Asia, Africa and North and South America. Another important museum is the Museum of Ancient Sculpture (Städtische Galerie Liebieghau) at the 19th-century Liebieghaus, which houses a large collection of Asian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman sculptures, as well as pieces from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. . The Icon Museum (Ikonen-Museum der Stadt Frankfurt am Main) is a rare institution housing a treasure of over a thousand Orthodox Christian images from across the Orthodox diaspora. Other important museums are the German Architecture Museum (Deutsches Architekturmuseum), focused on architectural design and offering more than 200,000 plans and designs; the Film Museum (Deutsches Filminstitut), with exhibitions on the Lumière brothers and the history of cinema; and the Museum of Applied Art (Museum Angewandte Kunst), or MAK for short, with its exhibitions of more than 30,000 objects representing European and Asian decorative art. The Städel Art Museum, with its excellent collection of 14th century paintings, is probably the first among this group of world-class museums. Its collections include works by old masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Goya and in the following centuries with Monet, Degas, Beckman and Picasso. The most contemporary works include those of Bacon and Baselitz. The collection also includes prints and drawings from Durer and Cézanne to Pollock and Ernst.

3. The Palm Garden

The Palm Garden frankfurt

On the Bockenheimer Landstrasse is the beautiful 54-acre Palm Garden (Palmengarten), the largest botanic garden in Germany. An instant hit with the public upon its opening in 1871, it attracted some of the top performers from around the world, including Buffalo Bill, who visited with his Wild West show in 1890. Highlights are outdoor botanical exhibits laid out according to their geographical location, along with a number of greenhouses containing subtropical and tropical plant species. The gardens also offer boating, a children’s playground, and picnic spots. From Palmengarten, the Europaturm – a telecommunications tower also known as the Tower of Europe – is just a short walk away, and worth visiting for its viewing platform and restaurant. Other Frankfurt parks of interest are the 72-acre Grüneburgpark Botanic Garden and the even larger Nidda Valley People’s Park (Volkspark Niddatal) covering some 415 acres on the outskirts of the city.

4. Senckenberg Natural History Museum

Senckenberg Natural History Museum

In the Senckenberg Gardens in Frankfurt, the Senckenberg Natural History Museum (Naturmuseum Senckenberg) is one of the most modern natural history museums in Europe and the second largest of its kind in Germany. In addition to its numerous exhibitions on the biodiversity of our planet and the evolution of organisms, the museum houses the largest exhibition of large dinosaurs in Europe, which makes it particularly popular with families (a number of replica dinosaurs life-size welcome guests in the museum square). It also houses the world’s largest collection of stuffed birds, as well as a large exhibition describing the development of humanity. Tours in English are available and you can hire audio guides.

5. St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral

St. Bartholomew's Cathedral

In the Senckenberg Gardens in Frankfurt, the Senckenberg Natural History Museum (Naturmuseum Senckenberg) is one of the most modern natural history museums in Europe and the second largest of its kind in Germany. In addition to its numerous exhibitions on the biodiversity of our planet and the evolution of organisms, the museum houses the largest exhibition of large dinosaurs in Europe, which makes it particularly popular with families (a number of replica dinosaurs life-size welcome guests in the museum square). It also houses the world’s largest collection of stuffed birds, as well as a large exhibition describing the development of humanity. Tours in English are available and you can hire audio guides.

6. Kleine Markthalle

Kleine Markthalle

Markets are always a good place to get a feel for a city, and the Kleinmarkthalle in Frankfurt, where many locals shop daily, is no exception. The current hall dates from 1954 and its 1,500 square meters house 150 market stalls selling some of the best food in Germany. It is a good place to try the famous Frankfurt Green Sauce (Frankfurter Grüne Soße), a traditional condiment made of seven herbs, sour cream and eggs. You can also enjoy local specialties such as sausages, cheeses and pastries.

7. The Hauptwache

The Hauptwache

In the middle of the city and one of the busiest pedestrian areas in Frankfurt, the Hauptwache – literally translated, the main guard – is famous for its mix of beautiful historic buildings and modern structures. The most remarkable building here is the old Baroque guard house which gave the place its name. Built in 1730, it once housed the city’s militia, a prison, and later a police station, and now serves as a cafe. The square itself is one of the main shopping areas in Frankfurt, with a large underground shopping center. It is also the point from which the main shopping and commercial streets of the city radiate. Accessible to pedestrians, Zeil heads east and Kaiserstrasse, with plenty of entertainment in its side streets, passes southwest through Rossmarkt and Kaiserplatz to the Hauptbahnhof. It is the city’s main railway station, built in 1888 and one of the largest stations in Europe.

8. The Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art

The Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art

The Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art (MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt) is widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary art galleries in Europe. Inaugurated in 1991 in a magnificent post-modern building in the heart of the city, the museum includes in its vast collection some 5,000 fine examples from more than 450 leading artists. Extending from the 1960s to the present day, the works are by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Francis Bacon. The museum also operates MMK Zollamt, a satellite exhibition space presenting works by younger and still unknown artists; the Museum of Applied Art in Frankfurt (Museum für angewandte Kunst), with more than 30,000 European and Asian art objects, including furniture, tapestries, glass, ceramics and books; and Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, showing both modern and contemporary art.

9. Zoo Frankfurt

Zoo Frankfurt

Home to over 4,500 animals representing at least 450 different species, the Frankfurt Zoo covers 32 hectares near the city’s old Friedberger Tor. Founded in 1858, it is the second oldest zoo in Germany and is known for its excellent animal houses, including the unique Grzimek house with exhibits of Madagascar’s diverse wildlife. The exotarium is also interesting, with animals from different climatic regions, including marine life, reptiles and crocodiles. The Borgori forest has a superb monkey house in an authentic jungle setting. Other highlights include the nocturnal animal house and the bird room. A variety of events and programs are offered, including family festivals, exhibitions and themed tours.

10. The Old Opera House

The Old Opera House

In the heart of the Frankfurt Opera Square (Opernplatz), the old Opera House (Alte Oper) was built in 1880 in the style of the Italian High Renaissance. Destroyed during the Second World War, it was rebuilt and reopened in 1981 as one of the most important concert halls in the city. The city’s new opera house, Oper Frankfurt, and the drama theater, Schauspiel Frankfurt, share a contemporary, state-of-the-art venue called Opern-und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt, about 800 meters on Willy-Brandt-Platz, near the river.

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