The world’s biggest book fair is opening its doors soon and, as a native “Frankfurter” working in the publishing industry, it’s the time of year that my colleagues start asking me about my hometown. Sadly, the most common thing I hear is that there is little that they know beyond Frankfurt airport and the exhibition centre.
So for those who return to Frankfurt book fair year after year, I hope to inspire you get out and explore my beautiful native city!
Frankfurt city centre – viewpoints and museums:
The first and most obvious sight when heading into Frankfurt is the city’s skyline, and many heads turn towards the skyscrapers when arriving. Why not take a ride up to the Main Tower viewing platform or its restaurant for a bird’s eye view? Picturesque sights of the city can also be enjoyed from Eiserner Steg. This bridge close to the “Römer,” the town square, leads across the River Main and is at one end of Frankfurt’s museum embankment. This is home to the famous Städel, a prominent fine art museum, the German Film Museum, and the German Architecture Museum, as well as other renowned museums.
On the opposite side of the river, right by the“Römer,” is Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. This hosts visiting art exhibitions and right next to it you’ll find the historic “Dom,” Frankfurt’s cathedral, which is well worth a visit, too.
An oasis in the city – “Palmengarten” and “Holzhausenschlösschen”:
If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air, you may prefer to head north-west of the city centre, where the “Palmengarten” (literally “palm garden”) lies, with its fascinating big greenhouses, beautiful water–lily pond, and lush vast grounds. You can spend hours there or simply enjoy a coffee in its lovely on-site café. Also quite central, slightly north of the centre, is the charming and historic “Holzhausenschlösschen,” a pretty baroque style water-moat castle. Both “Palmengarten” and “Holzhausenschlösschen,” offer an extensive cultural programme in the form of concerts, exhibitions and readings in their appealing settings.
Another way of finding some peace and quiet could be to simply take a stroll along the River Main. The centrally accessible riverside allows you to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and find a more serene spot with a great view across the water to the skyline beyond. Alternatively, Frankfurt has many cafés, “Konditors” (the German equivalent of a “Patisserie”), ice cream parlours and bakeries, dotted around the central area where coffee and cake or ice cream sundaes can be consumed. You may want to try a piece of “Frankfurter Kranz,” a sponge-type cake much loved by the locals. If you want to browse book titles, head into one of the small independent book shops or into the more commercial “Hugendubel” in the main shopping area.
Literary and cultural Frankfurt:
If a more literary exploration of Frankfurt appeals, (fitting for a visitor to the book fair), head to Goethe House, the famous author’s birthplace, in the first instance. Other renowned authors whose roots that can be tracked to Frankfurt include Anne Frank, whose memory is honoured in her birthplace by marked places of remembrance, including the educational centre Anne Frank, and Heinrich Hoffmann. The latter’s most famous character is paid homage to in the Struwelpeter Museum, worth a visit for those who are in town with children in tow. That said, the dinosaurs in the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History may hold a great appeal to younger visitors also. Did you know that the German National Library is in Frankfurt, too? Alongside its vast collection of books it also hosts a permanent exhibition that may capture your interest. The city’s beautiful Old Opera House with its historic exterior and modern interior is well worth a visit also.
Overall, there is much to see and do, all only a short “U-Bahn” (underground) ride from the book fair should you have the time and energy to explore. If you do, you will find that the airport, the banking district with the Frankfurt stock exchange and the European Central Bank, and the book fair are just parts that make up the city of Frankfurt am Main.
Featured image credit: Frankfurt skyline. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.