Frankfurt Am Main - A City Of ContrastsPosted on: 02 October 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves
Here, upon the majestic River Main, tradition and modernity, commerce and culture, activity and tranquillity are all harmoniously juxtaposed, with international trade shows and finance on one side and cultural as well as historical landscapes on the other. Together, they have helped to turn Frankfurt am Main into what it is today – a vibrant and multicultural metropolis.
Frankfurt enjoys a excellent reputation as a city of culture. This is in large part due to its unique museum embankment, which has a total of 26 museums scenically set on or near the riverside promenade. With a variety of renowned museums standing side by side like pearls on a string, the Frankfurt Museum Embankment is a cultural location like no other. Thirteen museums are located directly on the southern banks of the River Main, while a further thirteen are only a stone’s throw away. Featuring lush green banks and countless gardens and parklands, the Frankfurt Museum Embankment offers locals and visitors a unique combination of art, culture, recreation and relaxation. And, what’s more, there are numerous further exhibition venues spread out all over the city, each exuding its very own style and flair.
Every summer, Frankfurt’s museums take centre stage for one of Europe’s largest cultural celebrations, the Museum Embankment Festival. During this festival, which is traditionally held on the final weekend of August, participating museums put on display a colourful programme that remains open late into the night. At the same time, countless stages, stalls and stands line the riverside promenade, offering live music, culinary delights from across the globe and first-class entertainment for both young and old.
The reasons behind Frankfurt’s reputation as a place of culture and the arts are manifold. Oper Frankfurt, for example, has gained international acclaim for its world-class opera performances. In fact, it has been voted Germany’s leading opera house on several occasions, the last time in 2008. Frankfurt’s diversified cultural landscape features a further 60 theatres and independent theatre groups, including the continent’s largest English-language theatre: The English Theatre Frankfurt has been playing a significant role in Frankfurt’s international cultural scene for some 30 years. Its colourful programme consists of highly entertaining musicals, time-honoured theatre classics and much more.
When speaking of classics, the mind automatically turns to Frankfurt’s favourite son, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, born here in 1749. The Goethe-House, his place of birth, has been lovingly restored to its original condition, offering visitors excellent insights into the life and times of Germany’s most celebrated poet and author. Nearby, St. Paul’s Church remains as one of the most significant places of German history. Germany’s first national assembly met here in 1848, forming the basis of Germany’s modern-day constitution. Emperor’s Cathedral, site of numerous crowning and coronation ceremonies during the Middle Ages, is just around the corner.
The Famous Landmark
And then there’s Frankfurt’s most historical landmark, the three-gabled façade of the Römer. This former patrician’s house was chosen as Frankfurt’s town hall way back in 1405. It continues to serve as the seat of Frankfurt’s lord mayor to this day. Here, in the Römerhallen, or “Roman Halls”, and on the Römerberg in front of the town hall, fairs and markets were held in the earliest mediaeval times. Today, the Römerberg marks the centre of the historical old town, a popular and pulsating sightseeing attraction and outdoor venue for countless special events, such as the IRONMAN European Championships and the time-honoured Main Festival, just to name a few.
Whether at a lively street festival or on a cosy Frankfurt evening, Frankfurt loves its apple wine. This cider-like drink has been the locals’ beverage of choice for over 250 years. At the heart of Frankfurt’s social life, apple wine brings people of all ages and walks of life together at one table, usually at one of the city’s many traditional apple wine pubs, where comfort and a cosy atmosphere are at the order of the day.
The year concludes with the equally cosy and traditional Frankfurt Christmas Market, a must-see for all wintertime visitors of Frankfurt. Over three million people flock to the old town centre for this yuletide classic every year, enjoying both the historical setting and holiday atmosphere of one of Germany’s oldest and most beautiful Christmas markets. In fact, the market is so popular that it has become one of Frankfurt’s biggest export sellers. Residents and visitors of Birmingham, for example, our English sister city, have been enjoying Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market for many years, in particular the traditional Frankfurt Christmas specialities and the unusual yet very popular Frankfurt Christmas pub.
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