Frankfurt am Main Things to Do Tips by Nemorino Top 5 Page for this destination
Frankfurt am Main Things to Do: 540 reviews and 924 photos
1. Goethe House and Museum
The great German writer Johann Wolfgang Goethe, or von Goethe as he was known in his later years after being elevated to the aristocracy, was born here in Frankfurt am Main on August 28, 1749. The house where he was born and grew up has been reconstructed (after having been destroyed by bombs in the Second World War) and a small museum and lecture hall have been added.
Opening hours of the Goethe House and Museum are Monday-Friday 10 am – 5.30 pm; Sunday and public holidays 10 am – 5.30 pm; Saturday 10 am - 6 pm; last Saturday in the month 10 am - 8 pm. Admission is EUR 5.00 for adults, EUR 2.50 for students.
For those who don't speak German, I suppose I should point out that the name "Goethe" is pronounced with two syllables, sort of like a cross between "Ger-te" and "Gur-ta" but without really pronouncing the R. The main thing is to give it two syllables and put the stress on the first, otherwise people won't have a clue who you are talking about.
1. Goethe House and Museum
2. Signs near the Goethe House showing the beginnings of the Hölderlin Path (22 km) and the Goethe Trail (11 km). I have described the Hölderlin Path in some detail on my Bad Homburg page.
Address: Großer Hirschgraben 23-25, Frankfurt am Main
Directions: GPS 50° 6'40.89" North; 8°40'39.83" East
Phone: +49 (0)69 / 1 38 80 - 0
Frankfurt Stock Exchange
News broadcasts on German television almost always include a live report from this building, so most Germans know what it looks like on the inside, but they don't seem to pay much attention to it when they walk past, except maybe to the statues of the bull and the bear at the front of the building.
There is a Visitors' Gallery where you can have a look at the action on the exchange floor. Admission is free, but for security reasons you have to register by telephone (069-211-11515) at least 24 hours in advance.
They also offer daily introductory lectures in German, English and French, Monday through Friday at 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00 o'clock.
Address: Boersenplatz 4, Frankfurt am Main
Directions: Just off the Schillerstrasse, close to the Hauptwache.
European Central Bank (ECB)
Since you are going to the Frankfurt Opera anyway (well you are, aren't you?), you can have a glance on your way in at the provisional headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in the Eurotower on Willy-Brandt-Platz, just opposite the new opera house.
The European Central Bank established its headquarters here in Frankfurt in 1998. According to its website, the ECB is "the central bank for Europe's single currency, the euro. The ECB's main task is to maintain its purchasing power and thus price stability in the euro area. The euro area comprises the 12 European Union countries that have introduced the euro since 1999."
The ECB has a bookshop on the ground floor, but is otherwise not open to the public.
The ECB is building a whole new complex of buildings on the site of the former Grossmarkthalle (wholesale market) on Frankfurt’s east side, by the Main River. They were originally planning to move into the new buildings in 2009 -- but now they say it will happen in 2014. We shall see.
Update: For nearly a year, protesters from the Occupy Frankfurt movement camped out in front of the ECB. See my tips Occupy Frankfurt and Frankfurt Skyline Countdown, # 13.
Address: Eurotower, Kaiserstraße 29, Frankfurt am Main
Directions: Opposite the Frankfurt Opera on Willy-Brandt-Platz, formerly Theaterplatz.
Subway U1, U2, U3, U4 or U5, tram 11 or 12 to Willy-Brandt-Platz.
Foyer of the Frankfurt Opera, Willy-Brandt-Platz
This new opera house is not one of the architectural wonders of the world, I must admit, but it's a great place to go and see operas. It has one of the largest stages in Europe, with two revolving stages -- a small one inside a larger one -- that can both start turning at the same time if need be. And they have since built a third revolving stage to go on top of the other two.
If by any chance you are in Frankfurt when they are showing Benjamin Britten's opera "The Turn of the Screw" you can see all these revolving stages in action at once, which is very appropriate considering the title of the opera. Their "Turn of the Screw" is a brilliant production, and it's even in English because they do most of their operas in the original languages. (With German surtitles, if that is any help.)
Second photo: View from the foyer, with the twin Deutsche Bank Towers in the background and part of the Euro Tower on the right.
Third photo: Inside the Large Hall of the Frankfurt Opera.
Fourth photo: Stage entrance, with bicycles.
Fifth photo: Under the golden clouds in the lobby.
Address: Willy-Brandt-Platz (formerly Theaterplatz)
Take the streetcar number 11 or 12, or the subway U1, U2, U3, U4 or U5 and get off at Willy-Brandt-Platz.
Or you can cycle there as I do. They have finally put in some good bicycle stands along the west side of the building.
Phone: + 49 - 69 - 13 40 400
1. Concert in the Old Nikolai Church
Concerts are often held at the Old Nikolai Church, which is right on the Römerberg in front of the Historical Museum.
The one I attended recently was of Christmas Carols in English, featuring the Choir of the Trinity Lutheran Church under the direction of Jerrode Marsh.
Her husband Peter Marsh, the American tenor who has been a member of the Frankfurt Opera Ensemble since 1998, sang a powerful solo of "Oh Holy Night" by Adolphe Adam.
Second photo: The Old Nikolai Church during the annual Christmas Market on the Römerberg.
Third photo: Looking up at the church steeple.
Address: Römerberg 9
Phone: (069) 28 42 35
1. Holbeinsteg and Städel Art Museum
Frankfurt has some two dozen museums, most of which are located on or near the Main River on the Museumsufer or Museum River Bank. An elegant suspension bridge, the Holbeinsteg, leads directly to the outstanding Städel art museum. This bridge is for pedestrians and cyclists only.
If you want to go to several museums you can get Museumsufer Ticket, which costs EUR 12.00 and gets you into all Frankfurt museums on two consecutive days, or a Museumsufer Card, which is what I have. This costs EUR 65.00 for all Frankfurt museums for the entire year.
Second photo: The Städel from the Holbeinsteg during the Museum River Bank Festival 2005.
Third photo: The German Museum of Architecture, Schaumainkai 43, Tel. (069) 212-38844, http://www.dam-online.de.
Fourth photo: The German Film Museum, Schaumainkai 41, Tel. (069) 212-38830, http://www.deutsches-filmmuseum.de.
Fifth photo: The Museum of Applied Art (Museum für Angewandte Kunst), Schaumainkai 17, Tel. (069) 212-34037. I took this photo from across the river during the Museum River Bank Festival 2005.
Address: Städel Art Museum, Schaumainkai 63
Phone: (069) 212-605098-0
Jewish Museum Frankfurt
From 1922 to 1938 there was a museum in Frankfurt called the Museum of Jewish Antiquity. It was destroyed by the Nazis during their infamous nationwide pogrom night in November 1938.
Exactly fifty years later, on November 9, 1988, this new Jewish museum was opened in the Rothschild Palace on the right bank of the Main River.
There are permanent exhibits on "Jews in Frankfurt from 1100 to 1800", "Jewish Life and Jewish Festivals", "Jews in Frankfurt from 1800 to 1950" and "Mayer Amschel Rothschild and his sons" -- about the Jewish banking family whose Frankfurt branch lived in this very house in the 19th century.
On the ground floor there are also temporary exhibits, for instance on the work of the Jewish painter Felix Nussbaum (1904-1944) or on the deportation of the Jews from Frankfurt by the Nazis between 1941 and 1945.
The first photo shows visitors in the exhibit on the development of Jewish rights in Frankfurt during the nineteenth century.
Second photo: A visitor in the exhibit on Jewish life and festivals.
Third photo: A painting in the Jewish Museum
Fourth photo: View from the back window of the Jewish Museum. For information on these skyscrapers, see the Frankfurt Skyline Countdown on my Land Hessen page.
Fifth photo: The Jewish Museum Stand at the Museum River Bank Festival in August 2005
The Jewish Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Wednesday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.
As of 2013, admission is six Euros for adults and three Euros for children, students and the disabled. This includes the audio guide and admission to the affiliated Museum Judengasse.
Address: Untermainkai 14/15, 60311 Frankfurt
Directions: Subway lines U1-U5 and tram lines 11 and 12. Get off at Willy-Brandt-Platz and walk down towards the river.
Phone: +49 (0)69 212 35000
Hauptwache & Katherinenkirche
If you ask some local person how to get to the center of Frankfurt, this is where they will send you. It is at the beginning of the main shopping street, the Zeil, and near most of the downtown attractions.
The actual Hauptwache is the smaller building on the left, which was originally built in 1730 as a guardhouse for soldiers or police. It was rebuilt after the bombings of the Second World War, only to be dismantled stone by stone in the early 1960s to make way for the construction of the subway station. The stones were numbered, of course, so the building could be reassembled after the station was finished.
The Hauptwache building now serves as a café where you can have coffee and very heavy German cake, among other things.
The church on the right is the Katherinenkirche (St. Catherine’s Church) which is still used for church services, but also for concerts and even for innovative theatrical performances -- a dancer I used to know once flew through the interior of the church on a taut wire while singing angelically (without a microphone, but the acoustics are really good) as part of a modern dance performance.
Directions: Eight of the nine S-Bahn lines stop here (all except the S7), as do the U-Bahn lines U1, U2, U3, U6, U7 and U8.
And I always cycle through here on my way home after the opera, in case that is of any interest.
View from the upper foyer
The weirdest thing that happened up here was during a performance of one of the Wagner operas in the 1990s.
Just before one of the intermissions there was a tremendous thunderstorm on stage, with thunder, lightning, singers being blown around the stage by gale force winds and a 110-piece orchestra whipping up the appropriate music.
When we stumbled numbed and bleary-eyed out into intermission we discovered that there was a real thunderstorm going on right outside the window of the upper foyer, at least as spectacular as the one on stage.
If Wagner hadn't died 130 years ago he would certainly have taken credit for this magnificent spectacle.
(I'm not the world's greatest Wagner fan, by the way. Wagner is an acquired taste, and it took me about a decade to acquire. When I first started teaching opera appreciation courses here, I thought I would be confronted with a wall of unreconstructed Wagnerites, but no, of the 390 people who have been in my courses only two or three dozen have thus far outed themselves as Wagner fans, and I have actually found myself defending Wagner on several occasions -- I have to admit that he was a great composer, though he was also an anti-Semite, megalomaniac, proto-Nazi, male chauvinist and all-round incredibly nasty person.)
Second photo: A nighttime view from the upper foyer with city lights and the Euro sign in front of the European Central Bank.
For more views from the upper foyer of the Frankfurt Opera, please have a look at my travelogue:
Frankfurt Opera from Main Tower
Here is the Frankfurt Opera as seen from the top of the Main Tower.
On the roof is a big white boxlike construction with two words that you probably can't quite make out. The two words are "Oper Frankfurt" in small capitals in the Times New Roman font, just like on your computer.
Inside that white boxlike construction is all the stage machinery for the huge opera stage below. Entire stage sets hang there to be lowered at appropriate times, and when the soprano rises up into the sky on a magic carpet while singing an aria, that's the place she disappears into.
Behind the opera house a ship on the Main River is visible. On the left you can see part of the Eurotower, the provisional headquarters of the European Central Bank, and in the lower right-hand corner you can see their Euro symbol -- which is also appropriate for the opera, since they need lots of Euros to be able to put on all their great productions.
The second photo shows the opera house from the opposite side, as seen from one of the back windows of the Jewish Museum. Directly behind the opera house: the Japan Center, the Main Tower and part of the Eurotower. Further back to the left: the twin towers of the Deutsche Bank.
Third photo: At the back of the opera and theater building you can see where the workshops used to be. They were torn down during the summer of 2006 and are now being built up from scratch in a larger and more modern form. In the meantime there is a lot of trucking back and forth from here to the temporary workshops at the edge of the city, where the opera and theater stage sets are now being made.
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