FRANKFURT, GERMANY: Frankfurt or Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt by Main) is situated by River Main within driving distance from Bonn or Düsseldorf or Cologne. This is an ultra-modern city with color and contrast. It has lots of Sexy futuristic architectures standing next to very well-preserved old buildings, many historic churches, and number of welcoming squares. Frankfurt airport is the 3rd largest airport in Europe and draws millions of passengers each year. The city was heavily destroyed during WWII but no one can tell it by its present look.
TIME of TRAVEL: We hopped 4 cities in Germany during a long weekend break in May 2013. Frankfurt was our 2nd stop after Bonn and before Heidelberg. Since this year the winter was pushed out about by couple of weeks in Europe, we ended up having some cold and rainy days during this trip. The day we were out to enjoy Frankfurt, we had clouds, rain, sun, cold, and warm weather all in one day.
OUR HOTEL: We stayed in “Novotel – Frankfurt City” in Frankfurt. It was not in the city center which we usually prefer when we travel by car. City center was only 5 stations away from our location which was next to Frankfurt West Station. We stayed in Novotel many times and usually they never fail to make us happy with their services. We had free Wi-Fi but no breakfast. This time I actually packed all sorts of snacks and drinks with us, especially for the kids. So we had good breakfast during our whole trip.
EATING and SHOPPING: Frankfurt is the place for variety of different kinds of hotdogs, frankfurters, and sausages. We had lunch in a small restaurant in Romerberg there. I had a piece of big beef frankfurter with potato salad and garden salad…no one can beat that taste of frankfurter, it was absolutely the best giant hot-dog I ever had.
Souvenir stores in Frankfurt usually have many designs of cuckoo clocks and Bavarian style decorative beer mugs along with other typical gift items like t-shirts, key-rings, and etc. The cuckoo clocks range from 15/20 euros to few hundreds euros. Beer mugs also come in many designs and prices. Old town of Frankfurt has many souvenir shops, but Romerberg has tons of good ones. Also don’t forget to visit Zeil, which is the fashion street of this cool city. You can find stores selling cheap/reasonable priced things to high-end brand name places.
PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We spent about a whole day in Frankfurt. Our original plan was to spend 2 days here but later we decided to stay one day in Frankfurt and another day to drive to Heidelberg and spend half a day in its old town before heading home. Frankfurt has lots of good museums and tourists can easily spend days exploring those as well as other modern and historic sites.
1) SANKT KATHARINENKIRCHE (ST. KATHERINE CHURCH): This Gothic style church with flanking tower, artistic windows, and Baroque columnar portals was built in 1681. This was city’s main Protestant church. It was heavy destroyed during WWII in 1944 and was rebuilt in 1954. Beautiful Late-Gothic Katherine figure and some gallery pictures are from the 17th century but the glass windows are from recent time in 1954.
The church is open Monday – Friday 2 – 5 pm and there is no entry fee.
2) LIEBFRAUENKIRCHE: This is another old Gothic church of Frankfurt, standing there since 1344. Originally it was a chapel of the Virgin Mary. The belfry was erected in 1478. Later in the 18th century the tower was heightened in Baroque style with Rococo decoration. This was also destroyed in 1944 and was rebuilt in 1954. Some figures from Baroque altars were destroyed in war along with many other historical items. The church is very elegantly decorated with nice pattered stained-glass windows and some large paintings.
It’s free to enter the church and is open daily from 5:30 to 9 pm. The church is very close to Zeil and Hauptwache.
3) PAULSKIRCHE (ST. PAUL’S CHURCH): The early church was built in 1790 replacing a Gothic church. In 1848, this was the venue of the first German National Assembly where First German Constitution was resolved. During heavy air raids in Frankfurt during WWII in 1944, the Paulskirche was one of the many buildings that were hit. As no water was available to extinguish the fire hence it burnt out completely. But the church was rebuilt immediately after the war. As a symbol of democratic freedom and national unity, the “House of All Germans”, it was finished in time for the 100th anniversary of the first German National Assembly in May 1948.
Currently, the building is a memorial site. First level is more like museum of this church and all the important events that took place here in the history of Germany. Upper level has a prayer hall with a contemporary high-ceiling, simple altar with only a stone podium, and a not-so traditional nave.
Paulskiche is located in Paulsplatz separating from Romerberg by a small street. There is no fee to go inside and visit the museum or prayer hall.
4) ROMERBERG, RATHAUS (TOWN HALL), and ALTE NIKOLAIKIRCH (ST. NICOLAI CHURCH): Romerberg or Romerplatz is probably the most famous spot of the old center of Frankfurt. Many of its historic buildings from the 14th or 15th century were destroyed during WWII and were later rebuilt. On one of sides of Romerberg is the town hall, one side is occupied with Alte Nikolaikirche, and one side of it has magnificent old German-style half-timber houses with souvenir shops and some cafes. A small metal circle in the ground can be seen in front of Alte Nikolaikirche that commemorates fall of communism which is believed to be the spot where many books on communism were burnt.
The Late Gothic structure town hall at one side of Romerberg was built in 1408 in and was one of the first buildings to be reconstructed in 1952 after war-time destruction.
Alte Nikolaikirche is the red and white designed building in another side of Romerberg which has been boldly standing in this spot since 1150. In 1951 the church went through reconstruction for being destructed during WWII. At that time the portal structure of from the 13th century was preserved and still can be seen on one of the walls there. The church also houses some medieval gravestones from 1370. It’s a very small church with a simple altar but beautifully designed stained-glass windows are nice.
The church is open daily from 10 to 8 pm (April – September) and from 10 to 6 pm (October – March).
5) DOM ST. BARTHOLOMAUS: This once used to be the Coronation church of German Emperors from the 16th to 18th century. The Gothic construction of it started in 1315 and took until 1514 to finish. This was also damaged during the war in 1944 and was again built in 1953. The Gothic portals with bronze doors and relief are from the recent time in mid-20th century. But gorgeous Gothic altars and some gravestones are from the 15th century. The grand organ and choir stalls add immense beauty to this place, everything in this Dom is truly very beautiful.
The church is open Monday – Thursday and Saturday 9 am – 12 pm and 2:30 pm – 6 pm. Friday –Sunday it’s open from 2:30 pm to 6 pm. It’s located right next to Romerberg and no fees to go inside.
6) EISERNER STEG (IRON BRIDGE) and River MAIN: We didn’t have to go too far to see River Main…probably took us 2-3 minutes from the Dom to reach the promenade.
Eiserner Steg is the most well-known pedestrian bridge on River Main from 1869. Both the river and the bridge offer great view of the city and its famous skyline. We didn’t cross the bridge and go to the other side, but that’s where all the museums are.
7) HAUS WERTHEIM: This Late Renaissance style house is from 1600. This is the only original half-timber house to have survived war-time destruction of the old town. It is now a café/restaurant in the old town which adds colors and patterns to the surroundings.
8) HAUPTWACHE and ZEIL: This is the heart of modern Frankfurt. The place got its name from a building from the early 18th century that is presently a café now, Café Hauptwache. This is the station we took to explore the modern and historic Frankfurt. Katharinenkirche is also located here.
Zeil is the shopping district of Frankfurt and a paradise for people who like top-notch shopping experiences. Located very close to Hauptwache, Zeil has some outstanding architectures to gaze upon and many charming street performers to entertain every second of your time here.