Introduction to Frankfurt-am-Main
|Sachsenhausen’s quiet streets are a contrast to the busy heart of the city across the river.|
Frankfurt suffered in World War II, as did many German cities. Unfortunately this reduced one of Europe’s largest medieval cities to a pile of rubble. Only the city’s first skyscraper, the Dom Cathedral, and a scattering of other elderly buildings, survived the allied attacks. Choosing not to wallow in the past, Frankfurt’s city planners chose to look to the future, clearing large areas of the city and investing in modern transport networks and business. This is not to say there is nothing of the past to see today. Frankfurt’s historic RÃ¶mer square, fronted by the city hall and a row of ornate and colourful buildings was reconstructed from the rubble.
The city planners also turned their thoughts to the arts and tourism, creating a vast array of museums and galleries, including the celebrated modern art museum, and the collection of museums along the south bank of the River Main affectionately known as Museumsufer, or Museum Embankment. Frankfurt’s most famous son â€“ the poet J. W. Goethe â€“ was immensely proud of his home and spent most of his life producing works such as Faust here. The city today is also immensely proud of him, dedicating parks, roads, and a hospital to him, and opening a museum on the site of his family home in the centre of the city.
On the south bank of the river lies a quieter part of the city. The area of Sachsenhausen hugs narrow alleys and old buildings, and is renowned for its nightlife and local drink â€“ Ebelwoi, or Apple Wine. Here during the summer months crowds turn to rows of outdoor seating to enjoy an evening in the warm air. Alternatively, in the northeast corner of the city, the one-time village of Bornheim retains its laid back atmosphere and cafÃ© culture despite being fully incorporated into the big city.
How to Get There
Frankfurt’s airport, situated ten miles south of the city, is mainland Europe’s busiest. The national airline Lufthansa transfers thousands of passengers per day through the airport, which has two terminals. Major international carriers such as American Airlines, British Airways, Continental, Delta, Japan Airlines, and Northwest use Terminal 2, whilst Lufthansa’s partners, including United Airlines, use Terminal 1.
The city’s main train station â€“ or Hauptbahnhof â€“ is also one of Europe’s busiest, handling hundreds of services every day to destinations across Europe. An extensive domestic network by Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn.de) provides an affordable means of connecting from other German cities.
How to Get Around
|Romer Square with its restored medieval buildings is a hub of activity.|
Frankfurt’s public transport system consists of buses and trams at street level, with S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains running under the streets, and to outlying communities. At each station or stop, a standard ticket machine provides instructions in various languages, and a map of services. Tickets are valid within the city (€2.05 for a single adult fare), or to any of the outlying areas, covering any combination of transport types in one direction. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket which lasts a day, week or month, or for multiple people. With these, you can travel an unlimited number of journeys. Public transport systems tend to convene in hubs, where crossovers are possible â€“ the largest of which is the Hauptbahnhof train station. S-Bahn trains travel to the airport from here every ten minutes. Some bus services also travel to the airport. Check RMV (www.rmv.de) for more details.
Driving in Frankfurt can be a thankless task in rush hour. Increasingly the city is turning to one-way street patterns, and pedestrianised zones. If at all possible, you should avoid using a car to get around. Taxis are in abundance in busier areas, such as the Hauptbahnhof and Zeil shopping street. Frankfurt’s taxis are all a cream colour and easily recognizable.
Because of the city’s compact size, walking is one of the most enjoyable ways to get around. The centre of town can be traversed in less than an hour. Along the banks of the River Main, a lengthy path has been created which on a warm day is swarming with locals enjoying the sun. This is a great place to see the skyline, and to enjoy cycling or blading. It is also here that over many of the summer weekends large festivals and firework displays are held.
|Frankfurt’s centre encompasses wide boulevard, skyscrapers and some of Germany’s richest real estate.|
Always a special time of year to visit is at the end of the year when the nights are long and the air cold. Stretching from the Zeil shopping street to RÃ¶mer square, where a tree standing four stories tall takes pride of place, the Christmas Market brings festive joy and merriment to Frankfurt for a whole month. Lasting from late November until Christmas itself, stalls sell crafts, candy and all kinds of decoration, and fairground rides add to the vast array of colour and lights. Drinking a cup of GlÃ¼hwein in a commemorative mug is absolutely essential.
The main tourist information office is located at RÃ¶mer square (open daily from 0900-2100). It has guides, an accommodation-booking service, and a gift shop. You can also book tours here. Details of the city are available at www.frankfurt.de