Best Places to Be Inspired by Art, Design and History in Frankfurt

Beyond its dizzying skyscrapers, the city’s historical and architectural landmarks are a photographer’s dream.

There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Frankfurt, which has been dubbed the ‘Mainhattan’ of Europe. Located along the Main river in Germany, you’ll be surprised that the continent’s bustling financial centre has many eye-catching landmarks to be explored beyond its steel and glass facades.

From world-renowned art to historical treasures, every corner is a photo opportunity waiting to be discovered. So, ready your cameras and get ready to explore these Frankfurt attractions, starting from the south bank of the Main and working your way up!

Brückenviertel

Museumsufer (Museum Embankment)

Begin your day at Museumsufer, Frankfurt’s museum quarter. Head to the striking white neo-classical building housing Museum Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Arts), where Michael Riedel’s Graphic Art as Event (featured in main image) as well as The Pinkus/Ehrlich Collection of stolen art by the Nazis are now on display until mid-October.

If your interest is old masters, Städel Museum should be your first choice instead. Founded in 1815, this minimalist-influenced and modern building is Germany’s oldest museum foundation. The seemingly small museum has 104,000 art pieces to be seen, with impressionist works ranging from Monet to Van Gogh, to fine art from Matisse and Picasso, and contemporary works including Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol.

For film and culture buffs, explore the Lumière brothers-related exhibits and history of cinema at Deutsches Filmmuseum (German Film Museum) or cultural exhibits at Weltkulturen Museum (Museum of World Cultures). With more than 65,000 artefacts from around the world, the latter is one of Europe’s top ethnological museums.

Alternatively, visit Liebieghaus (Museum of Ancient Sculpture) for its large collection of Asian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman sculptures as well as pieces from the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Tip: Frankfurt’s largest flea market is held here on Saturdays, so you might want to coincide your visit with it. If you’re planning to visit a number of museums, be sure to also buy a Museumsufer discount ticket at the first museum you’re exploring.

Altstadt

St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral

The facade of St. Bartholomew's Cathedral in Frankfurt

Take a scenic 324-step climb to the top at St Bartholomew’s Cathedral, where a magnificent panoramic view of the city awaits. Built between the 13th and 15th century, this red-sandstone building has its architectural influence from neo-Gothic style.

Even though this was never an episcopal church, it was one of the few churches to have received the designation as ‘Imperial Cathedral’ (Kaiserdom). Today the 95m tower still remains a striking landmark amid Frankfurt’s skyscrapers, having survived a fire in 1867 and the World War II.

Also drop by the cathedral museum in the medieval cloister, which contains exhibits from the cathedral’s treasury, fascinating finds from the late Merovingian period in the 7th century and the most important relic, the skullcap of St. Bartholomew.

Tip: The tower climb is only available from April to October.

Goethe House and Museum

Quench your fascination for literary works at the typically medieval Goethe House and Museum, the birthplace and home to Germany’s most important writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Destroyed in World War II, it has now been fully restored with original haute-bourgeois furniture, paintings and books, based on the inventory taken when the place was sold.

Explore the four levels, from the sumptuous dining room on the main floor to Goethe’s writing room on the top floor where he penned many of his early works and played with his prized gift, a puppet theatre, as a four-year old child. If that is not enough, walk over to the neighbouring Goethe Museum, a 14-room gallery with many artworks from the writer’s time, including masterpieces of the Late Baroque and Romantic periods.

The Römerberg

Night view of the old town square Romerberg with Justitia Statue

Take a leisurely stroll through the Römerberg, which means ‘Roman Mountain’. Steeped in history, this medieval-influenced public square is located in the Old Town, with the Justice Fountain (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen) holding the fort in the centre.

A complex of 11 historic buildings from the 15th to 18th centuries, you’ll find Frankfurt’s Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) here. Do explore the relics in the Historical Museum (Historisches Museum) and the six traditional-style buildings of the Ostzeile, a row of picturesque half-timbered houses that are reconstructions of the medieval originals.

Tip: If you’re in Frankfurt during December, be sure to visit Römerberg for its annual Christmas market.

Paulskirche (St. Paul’s Church)

St Paul’s Church has been both a Lutheran church and parliament building on different occasions. Built between 1789 and 1833, look out for the circular nave and adjoining clock tower in this brick establishment.

Widely seen as the symbol of German democratic movement, it was used during the lead-up to the elections for the German National Assembly, the first freely elected German parliament. Although it was later destroyed by bombings during World War II, it became the first structure in Frankfurt the city rebuilt post-war as a tribute to its symbolism of freedom.

Now used as an exhibition hall, admire the 33m painting that encircles the main room downstairs – an artistic depiction of life.

Eschenheimer Turm (Eschenheimer Tower)

The central spire of the Eschenheimer Tower in Frankfurt

Visit the 47m-tall Eschenheimer Tower, which is topped with a central spire, four side turrets and a projecting battlement. Built in the early 1400s, this late-medieval round tower fortification is located next to the busy Eschenheimer Gate (Eschenheimer Tor) plaza. Standing as the most well-preserved building from the Roman ‘new town’, this makes for an interesting sight among the modern high-risers.

Tip: Refuel at the café and restaurant on the ground floor. Wind down over a refreshing hefeweizen (south German wheat beer) and a traditional Frankfurter wurst.

Westend

Palmengarten (The Palm Garden)

A light show Winterlichter at Palm Garden in Frankfurt

Stroll through the 21-hectare urban paradise that is Palmengarten. Opened since 1871, take a horticultural journey and explore over 6,000 botanical species at the largest botanical garden in Germany.

The pièce de résistance here has to be the Tropicarium. The 18m-high angular glass facade was designed by architect Freidrich Kaysser, who was inspired by similar glass palaces in London and Paris during the 19th century. This magnificent iron structure houses an ensemble of 14 greenhouses, each of which recreates climates from around the world, from arid deserts to tropical rainforests.

You’ll also find recreational options, such as boating on the ponds, a children’s playground and picnic spots, which are great for keeping the whole family entertained.

Senckenberg Natural History Museum

Travel back in time at the three-storey Senckenberg Museum. As one of the most modern museums of natural history in Europe, this brick-walled neo-baroque building from the early 1900s is home to thousands of exhibits on the planet’s biodiversity and evolution.

Most famous for its dinosaur skeletons ─ said to be among the biggest in Europe ─ the museum has the world’s largest collection of stuffed birds, fossil amphibians, geology exhibits and Egyptian mummies. Discover some of the most dazzling colours of nature with exhibits such as fluorescent rocks or meteorites too.

Tip: Admission is free for visitors from Frankfurt’s twin cities, which include Birmingham (UK), Budapest, Cairo, Dubai, Guangzhou, Krakow, Lyon, Milan, Prague, Tel Aviv and Toronto.

Bahnhofsviertel

Main Tower

A couple by the Main River in Frankfurt

Gaze upon the Main Tower, the tallest building in the city and the only skyscraper open for public viewing. Named after the Main River which runs through the city centre, this modern-day structure in the heart of CBD offers the best 360-degree view of the Rhine-Main region.

Take the lift 200m up to the observation deck – all it takes is 45 seconds! Then end your evening with a meal at The Main Tower bar and restaurant on the 53rd floor. If you’d like to stay on, head to the Lounge and enjoy a cocktail.

Tip: Since the Main Tower is also open in the evenings, make the most of your visit and catch the Frankfurt sunset too.

 

Besides its status as a commercial and business hub in Europe, Frankfurt is also a great destination for more artistic and cultural pursuits.

Continue to be inspired at Capri by Fraser, Frankfurt / Germany, a design-led boutique hotel residence with a twist. With its central CBD location and close proximity to the main shopping area of My Zeil and Goethe Strasse, you’ll be moments away from the major congress hall (KAP Europa) and Messe Frankfurt, Skyline Shopping Mall and many other businesses and transport links.

Apart from its spacious and design-led rooms & apartments starting from 32sqm the hotel also offers one of the fastest wireless internet service, which is complimentary to all guests.

If you’re travelling beyond Frankfurt, check out our guide on things to see in Berlin. Do let us know in the comments if you have more recommendations for Frankfurt too.

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