Frankfurt Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Germany > Frankfurt > History

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the town's most famous resident, once said "Frankfurt is full of curiosities". There's still a lot of truth in these words today. One of these curiosities is the interplay between the traditional and the modern which manifests itself in the mix of imposing skyscrapers and tiny half-timbered houses. Frankfurt, which first and foremost presents itself as a cosmopolitan city, owes a great deal of its size to small villages and towns like Bornheim, Sachsenhausen and Höchst, which are becoming increasingly incorporated into Frankfurt itself.

After the bombing campaign of March 1944, Frankfurt's Altstadt (Old Town) was almost completely destroyed. There are, however, many sights to see here - the Römer, Leinwandhaus, Paulskirche(church), Dom (cathedral) and the Goethemuseum (Goethe museum) are only a few yards apart from each other. If you want to go shopping after you've been sightseeing then you'll be at home in the Innenstadt (town centre) and you're guaranteed to find what you want in arcades such as the Schillerpassage or the Freßgass Passage. Evening entertainment in the form of theatre or other cultural pursuits can be found in places like Schmiere, Tigerpalast or the Volkstheater.

In the 1920's more than 20,000 people lived in the splendid houses close to the Hauptbahnhof (Main Station), which was opened in 1888. Today the Bahnhofsviertel (station quarter) is home to just 4000 residents. The dubious descent of the area into a red light district began in the seventies and a multitude of sex shops, gambling halls, brothels and strip bars has since shaped the street scene here. Other cultures are also being gradually assimilated in this quarter. The English Theatre and the chamber choir in the Logengebäude attract business people and other workers on their way back from work. A welcome break after a day spent in one of the high rise buildings of the neighbouring Bankenviertel area.

The some 40,000 students of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University determine the character of the Bockenheim district. Cafés, bistros, pubs and shops in the area round the numerous institutes and concrete tower blocks of the science faculty have focused their attentions on the young and knowledge-hungry clientele. The Theater am Turm (TAT) in the former tram depot is a place for their innovative theatre and ballet productions.

Frankfurt's 'merry village' of Bornheim spans the divide between traditional and trendy. In the old cider pubs, refurbished bars, boutiques and corner shops attract a varied clientele. The heart of this residential area lies in the shopping street Berger Straße. You'll find entertainment in Mousonturm, the building frequented by artists, as well as in the Berger Kino (Cinema). If you are in need of relaxation, why not try the Chinesischer Garten (Chinese garden) or for a bit of fun, the Eissporthalle (Ice Skating hall). The Dippemess is also perfect for a spot of light relief.

The district of Höchst, which gave its name to the world famous paint factory, was incorporated into Frankfurt in 1928. The Altstadt (old town) and the castle on the Nidda estuary in the River Main have been undergoing careful restoration since the seventies. In the Neues Theater Höchst, a busy culture scene with variety theatre, cabaret and children's theatre has been established. Large concerts and performances take place in the Jahrhunderthalle and the highlight of this district's social life is the Schloß- und Altstadtfest (Castle and Old Town festival) in summer.

The most densely populated and popular residential area of Frankfurt is Nordend which boasts pleasant streets and old houses built between 1871-73, as well as many pubs and small shops. The area used to be dominated by the districts' left wing alternative scene but today many bankers live here alongside the student population. People meet up in one of the many Italian, Greek or Turkish restaurants or in bars such as Harveys or Kasimir. A true gem is the Holzhausernschlößen situated in a wonderful park.

Formerly a really dilapidated working-class area, the Ostend is today a much sought after district. This neighbourhood features more than just dirty industrial plants: it also offers imposing villas and a lot of culture. Literary enthusiasts meet in the Romanfabrik and future advertising strategists study at the Academy for Communication and Design. Furniture design shops such as Kontrast, Werbeagenturen and Filmemacher have made themselves at home in the former manufacturing halls. And for those out on the town, there are hip locations such as the Loft-House.

The Sachsenhausen district on the other side of the River Main is known throughout the world because of its old half-timbered housing district and cider industry. Old Sachsenhausen has lost some of its charm as an enjoyable tourist area but it still has a lot to offer, such as the imposing town houses on the bank of the Main, trendy locations such as the Stereo Bar and fine boutiques on the elegant Schweizer Straße. Art and culture are alive on the museum bank, where the Filmmuseum, Ethnological museum and Städel stand close to each other.

Standing in the shadow of high rise buildings and banks is the Westend. Students and speculators used to demonstrate about the pulling down here of houses built between 1871-3. Today offices and banks give the area its character and owners of the expensive flats and chic rented houses meet up to jog in the Grüneburgpark or relax in the Palmengarten. The renovated Synagogue is worth seeing as is the monumental IG-Farbenhaus and the Alte Oper on the edge of the district.


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