City Guide

Four Hours in Frankfurt 2012

30 Jun 2012

Rose Dykins and Reggie Ho stroll the streets of Germany’s financial capital to explore both its business and artistic sides.

Main Tower

Begin at the 200-metre-tall Main Tower, the only skyscraper in Frankfurt that the public is allowed to ascend. If you can, arrive early to avoid long queues. Entry is E5 (US$6.3) and there are airport-style security checks, but the view of the city from the 56th floor is an excellent way to get your bearings. Look out for the “green belt” introduced in 1800 by Napoleon Bonaparte, who knocked down the town’s medieval fortifications and replaced them with trees and grassy spaces. If you have time, stop for a coffee at the Main Tower restaurant on the 53rd floor. The tower is open Sun-Thu 10am-9pm, Fri and Sat 10am-11pm (closes two hours earlier in winter). Visit www.maintower.de

Alte Oper/Café Rosso

With Main Tower on your right, walk along Neue Mainzer Strasse to find its intersection with Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse. On your left is the Alte Oper, where many great musical names have played. The venue was opened by Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1880 and built in Italian Renaissance style by Richard Lucae, but it was rebuilt in 1964, two decades after it was destroyed in a 1944 air raid. Even if you don’t have time to see a show, at least sit down for a quick bite or a glass of wine at the quaint Café Rosso with its high carved ceiling and grand columns. The outdoor tables are actually the real draw – when the weather is nice, you can sit back and watch the world go by in the piazza. Open 10am every day from April to November, and from 11:30am between November and April; closes when the last concert finishes. Visit www.alteoper.de

Stock Exchange

Walk along Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse and turn left when you reach Börsenstrasse, then take the first right. Here you’ll find Frankfurt Stock Exchange, a beautiful Neo-Renaissance building with columns, statues and cherubs peeking down at you from above. The Stock Exchange accounts for 90 per cent of turnover in the German market and, as of May this year, floor trading was abolished and is now done entirely through electronic securities trading system Xetra. There is a visitor’s centre and gallery inside with interactive displays and information about exchange trading. Outside, you’ll see bronze statues of a bull and a bear – as bears attack downward and bulls upward, the statues stand as metaphors for share fluctuations – and bustling food stalls that offer beers and snacks every Friday.
Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Bookings necessary. Tel +49 692 1111 515; http://deutsche-boerse.com

Romer Square

Turn right past the bear and bull, then left. Continue past Galeria Kaufhof, taking time to enjoy the vibrant shops. Turning right at the white granite fountain, the towering red sandstone of St Bartholomew’s Cathedral will come into view. Walk 500 metres towards it, then turn right and go past the archaeological gardens that contain Roman and medieval remains. Continue on to Romer Square, where the partially thatched buildings were reconstructed in the 1980s to look as they did before World War II – note the symbolic phoenix mosaic on the side of City Hall. If you’re hungry, head to Schwarser Stern in the southeast corner and try Frankfurt specialities from E10 (US$12.6) – grüne soße is a creamy green sauce made with seven herbs, traditionally served with boiled eggs and potatoes. Apfelwein is Frankfurt’s signature drink – it tastes a lot like a strong cider. Try one here for E4.40 (US$5.5). Visit www.schwarzerstern.de

Museum Für Moderne Kunst

Leave Romer Square via Braubachstrasse, turn right and continue to the Museum Für Moderne Kunst (MMK). Once inside, it feels a bit like being in an MC Escher drawing – you reach exhibitions by random staircases, forgetting where you started. Visit the third floor for American pop art, with pieces by Warhol and Lichtenstein, and don’t miss Katharina Fritsch’s Tischgesellschaft on the second floor. This sinister piece has become a trademark of the MMK, and makes a bold statement about uniformity and isolation. Entry is E5 (US$6.3). Open Tue and Thu-Sun 10am-6pm, Wed 10am-8pm. Visit www.mmk-frankfurt.de

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