To many people, Frankfurt would not be the first place most tourists would go to for a leisurely trip to Germany. But during both my trips to Germany last year and spending a bit of time in Frankfurt, I found some hidden gems that most people might appreciate.
Many guidebooks will tell you that Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany, maybe even Europe. It has been for centuries. This is because the city is often compared to New York City in terms of influencing the world’s economy. Frankfurt may not be as exciting as New York City however it has plenty to offer the leisure traveler as you will soon discover.
After a much-desired ice cream sundae, a found steps around the corner leading to a modern building with a water installation in its center courtyard. At first, it looked like the courtyard is under construction because of what looked like rubble surrounding the installation. It turns out the rubble is part of the art. The water installation was made of several pipes suspended about 20 feet high with spigots releasing water in unison making a musical tune. At the bottom is a round pool that had collected the water. As the water hits the pool below, it created a pleasant tune that would echo around the entire courtyard. The water was singing a song. This was an unexpected surprise in the old city center making Frankfurt a city that belongs in the 21st century.
Just a few yards away from the old city center was St. Bartholomew’s Church, Frankfurt main cathedral. The first time I visited Frankfurt was on Easter Sunday 2015. I went to the church mainly to take refuge from the cold Frankfurt weather and to offer a candle in memory of my father. I did not realize this church also served as a museum of religious art primarily wood carvings and stone statues. The collection was scattered all over the walls of the main congregation. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a closer look at some of them because of the ongoing Easter Sunday afternoon mass. One must practice a great deal of respect in visiting places of worship such as this cathedral.
I kept walking around the area and I found myself at Borsenplatz where Frankfurt’s Stock Exchange building sits across the way from a Starbucks L. What I love about this small square is it is tucked away from the main traffic. New York has the giant bronze Merrill Lynch bull statue representing the upturn of the economy. Frankfurt has both the bull and the bear – the bear representing the downturn of the market. Though both are not as big as the bull in New York, to traders working at the Stock Exchange both the bear and the bull represents the economy’s uncertainty.
Keep walking down Gross Bockenheimer Strasse and I found a beautiful building that turned out to be the Old Opera House of Frankfurt. This is probably the best looking building I have seen in the city. They do not use it for performances anymore but it is now used for other important events and festivities. There was a water fountain in front of the Old Opera House which is where most locals would gather cooling themselves down is the summer heat.
One final surprise was during one of my walks in Frankfurt is this. . . .
Frankfurt surely had a quirky sense of humor. In the beginning I thought it was a sidewalk art installation however it might have been a functioning entrance to a U-Bahn train station. I did not see anyone go in or come out of it but it was surely quite amusing thing to see.
Now that you have seen some of the city’s unique character, I encourage everyone wanting to visit Germany to never underestimate the city of Frankfurt. To most, Frankfurt is one of the gateways to Germany but spend a little time in the city. Always open your mind and start walking. Walking around the city is how I found some of these little surprises. All you need is a good map and good walking shoes.
Other landmarks and attractions to see in Frankfurt are the Staedel Art Museum, St. Nicholas Church at the Romerberg, the Jewish Quarter, Palmengarten, Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Family Home that is now open to the public, The Carmelite Monastery where the Archaeological Museum is located, to name a few.