Frankfurt- I’ll Take Mainhattan

Come prepared to see a beautifully rebuilt city where the old blends masterfully with the present. Where skyscrapers compete with the Dom to dominate the skyline.

Frankfurt- I’ll Take Mainhattan

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

One of my favorite moments was crossing the Main on a footbridge to visit Das Stadel Museum.

It was windy and cold, and my hat was in imminent danger of being blown away, but the view was so spectacular that it made it a pleasure. Frankfurt has a wonderful skyline, with old and new blending together sympathetically.

Meeting "The Becks Experience" for lunch on Saturday was a high point of our visit. We toured some of the churches

around the Romerberg together and exchanged thoughts on everything from IgoUgo to economic conditions. Having solved the problems of mankind, we will now tackle the travel industry.

We should have skipped the history museum; without subtitles, we couldn’t follow most of the exhibits. I should have visited Goethe Haus with Joe and Bob, my one bad choice. We finished long before they returned to meet us for supper, and we did enjoy sitting on the steps and people-watching. There are also lots of interesting shops to poke around in on the Romerberg, with the German version of the usual tourist items.

${QuickSuggestions} 1. Stadel Museum - For any art lover, this is a must. The collection offers everything from Albrecht Durer to Max Lieberman in German painting, as well as an excellent selection of other European art from the 15th to the 20th century.

2. Alte City - The old city offers a chance to see what Frankfurt looked like before the war. The skillful rebuilding leaves you feeling that you have seen the genuine article. You will also want to visit some of the charming restaurants and varied shops.

3. Judisches Museum - The Jews have been a vital part of the history of Frankfurt for a thousand years. This museum tells their story both good and bad while educating about their celebrations and customs.

4. The Dom - St. Bartholomew Cathedral dominates the skyline of the Old City, though from a distance, it can almost be lost among all the skyscrapers. The treasury is of particular interest.

5. Goethe Haus - The house and museum dedicated to the famous poet are a must-visit for anyone who has enjoyed Faust or just enjoys visiting 18th-century family homes.${BestWay} We took the train from Frankfurt Airport to the Haupbahnhof. We got a group ticket that takes up to five people one-way; it cost 12.5 euros. That ticket would also have allowed us to use public transportation for the whole day. We easily walked the three blocks from the train station to our hotel.

Two days, however, don't allow time to figure out bus or tram routes, especially when on day one our brains are less than sharp from lack of sleep. We choose to walk everywhere. I highly recommend the Victoria Hotel for its location.

We picked our rental car up at the train station and, after deciding it wouldn’t hold our luggage well, drove to the airport to exchange it for a station wagon. The roads are easy to navigate, well-signposted, and since it was Sunday, the traffic was minimal, though a light dusting of snow added a little drama. We rose to the challenge and had a great time.

Victoria Hotel

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

Thank you, thank you, Manfred Klotz. We had the best stay at your hotel.

I began my emails in May 2003 and reserved three rooms at the Victoria Hotel through their Internet site. In December, I emailed to ask if we could have our rooms early on our day of arrival, say, 7am. I got an answer immediately saying there was no problem with early check-in and no charge. It made our day. We went up to our rooms, showered, shaved, and slept for four hours--what a treat. We were even upgraded to a junior suite. The junior suite was smoking, and I had requested non-smoking, but the room didn’t smell horrible, so I was delighted with the upgrade.

I chose the Victoria Hotel for its location, just three blocks from the Haupbahnhof. We were able to walk there easily in 5 minutes. We also could walk everywhere that we wanted to go in Frankfurt since there was no way we were going to master the public transportation in a day and a half. The neighborhood around the Victoria is not the best, but I never felt threatened, especially since we were in a group of four. If sex shops or street people offend you, then this may not be the best location for you.

Our junior suite had a sitting area with its own TV and a large bathroom with the deepest tub (just great for soaking those aches away after a long day of walking or a long night on a plane). The room was decorated with pretty French Empire furniture, a trouser press, minibar, bathrobe, desk with chair, hair dryer, a large closet with shelves, and plenty of good lighting. The basic color scheme was a very soothing yellow, with the drapes and the bedspread matching. In the usual German fashion, we had a feather pillow and a feather bed instead of a top sheet and blanket. The mattress was good and firm, and we had plenty of towels in the bathroom. We had two English channels on the TVs: CNN and BBC--not exciting but enough to keep us informed of world events. We also had free Internet access from the computer in the lobby.

Bob and Joe had single rooms, and I have to admit these were the smallest rooms we had ever seen. They were immaculately clean and had all the amenities that we had, but space was really at a premium.

Our excellent rate (85 euros/double) included a buffet breakfast. In addition to tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, we could have boiled eggs, lots of fruit, both whole and cut up, four choices of cereal, meat, cheese, pickles, sliced tomatoes, peppers, cubed cheese, pickled herring, and more. We were very happy with our choice of hotel--the staff was wonderful, and everything about it made us want to return. Thanks again, Mr. Klotz!

The hotel can be reached at

Victoria Hotel
Frankfurt, Germany
49 69 273060

Restaurant Historix

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

Attached to the Historische Museum, this restaurant was Joe’s pick for dinner on our second night in Frankfurt. Located right off the Romerberg, it is an excellent choice if you plan to spend the day in the old part of town.

The restaurant also says that it is the home of the Applewine Museum, and certainly, the décor would suggest that, with apples and bottles of wine making up the main decorations. We were the only people in the restaurant at 5pm for dinner; how very American of us! Actually, we were still jet-lagged and planned to make an early night of it.

We wanted to try some typically German or Hessian food, and this restaurant specializes in these. Al and I had pork steak with mushroom sauce, salad, and fried potatoes, and Joe and Bob had pork schnitzel and salad. All the food was well-cooked, and service was fast and efficient. The salad was a real beauty, with corn and cabbage and an interesting dressing. The mushroom sauce that came with our meal was the real winner, golden and rich--we didn’t waste a drop. The menu was not available in English and be aware that they don’t take credit cards. Our waitress understood enough English to make ordering easy and everything arrived as ordered.

For dessert, we all had red berries and vanilla sauce. This included raspberries, currants, and cherries, I was a little surprised by the cherries, but it was delicious. It was the consistency of a loose preserve and not too sweet. We drank Pils with our meal and coffee with dessert. The Pils was great and a bargain at $2.80. The coffee, however, was not worth the money--it was a very small cup and not great; for almost $4, I can’t recommend it. The meal for two cost us almost $40. This was not a bad price, since the entree portions were more than enough to fill us up.

Restaurant Historix
Saalgasse 19
Frankfurt, Germany

Café Liebfrauenberg

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

Meeting up with fellow guide Becks was part of my plans for visiting Frankfurt. We decided to meet in the lobby of the Kunst Shirn at 12:30pm on Saturday January 3, 2004 and then go out to lunch together. Since Becks is more familiar with the area than us, we let him make the choice of dining location. This was the restaurant he chose; it was not his first choice he told me, but some restaurants were still closed because of the New Year holiday.

Located just off the Romerberg, this was a typical German café and a treat for us. It was wonderful to have a local with us because we are never sure if we should wait to be seated or just go and take a seat. Becks led the way and let the waitress know we needed a table for five. There is nothing like have a German speaker with you to improve service in general.

Since we had had our excellent buffet for breakfast only three hours previously, we weren’t very hungry. I had tomato soup (this was not a cream of tomato but more of a tomato sauce) and Al had two frankfurters (appropriate, don’t you think?). Becks had a Chinese dish that smelled of curry and was made with chicken, vegetables, and rice. The food was good and the company was even better! It was an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and culture.

We learned here that the way to order your dessert was to go to the case where it was displayed and point out the one that you wanted. The people behind the counter will give you a little piece of paper that tells your waitress what to charge you for your cake. We used this knowledge on many occasions during our trip. It is very difficult to find a non-smoking section in German cafés, and even if you find one, it is usually so close to the smoking section that it makes the difference hard to distinguish. For the most part, we ask for non-smoking but don’t insist on it.

The prices of the food here was excellent, and they offered several specials of the day. Becks’ meal was one of these, and Bob ordered their omelet of the day. The lunch for five was a little over $50, or about $10 apiece.

Café Liebfrauenberg
24 Liebfrauenberg
Frankfurt, Germany

Chicago Meatpackers

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

If you are in Frankfurt and are hankering for some good old-fashioned American food, the Chicago Meatpackers will be just what you are looking for. They offer traditional appetizers, potato skins, wings, and loaded nachos. Entrees run the gamut from steaks, chicken, burgers, French fries, and coleslaw.

Al and I had the blackened chicken salad. In all honesty, I didn’t see any black on my chicken, but it was a large and tasty salad with a slightly sweet dressing. It had warm chicken, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, croutons, and Parmesan cheese. It was served in an edible taco shell.

Bob had the chicken salad with bacon, which was basically the same salad we had, but with the addition on bacon. He found it amusing that the first beer he had in Germany was a Sam Adams.

Joe had the barbecue ribs, which came with French fries, corn on the cob and coleslaw. He didn’t like the ribs--I’m not sure exactly why--but the rest of the meal was fine.

The atmosphere is similar to Hard Rock Café: loud music blaring, checkered tablecloths, and wooden tables. I am not going to try to convince you that this is great food; it was good food, but not great. It was our first night in Frankfurt, we were dead on our feet, and we weren’t up for any surprises. We saw the people around us being served what looked like some huge and delicious burgers. The meal for the two of us was 20 euros with the addition of my cup of coffee. Cheap by any standards!

Chicago Meatpackers
8 Untermainlage
Frankfurt, Germany

Das Staedel

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

We reached the museum via a foot bridge over the Main. It offers spectacular views of the city, with the skyscrapers towering over the Old City, yesterday and today wonderfully displayed before your eyes. Wonderful diversity.

This is a very visually attractive museum. As you stand in the lobby, you can look up several floors into the rotunda. The lobby has a nice-size gift shop, and we immediately lost Joe for a good 15 minutes. Entrance is 8 euros, and the coat check is half a euro, nothing gratis here. We had lunch in the Holbein Restaurant; service was less than perfect, and the prices are terrible, but the pumpkin-ginger soup was so good, I am willing to forgive them any shortcomings. The lentil soup was also excellent, so I have to recommend that you try them--just be patient and bring along your credit card.

There were two special exhibits going on while we were there: one, Nackt (naked), was particularly popular. I was personally more attracted to the other, which was a collection of German drawings whose highlight for me was several by Albrecht Durer.

The technique for displaying the painting in this museum is unique in that, although it is done quite traditionally by age and nationality, interspersed with, say, a collection of early Flemish paintings will be a modern German painting. For example, in a room with Lucas Cranach, Rogier van der Weyden, and Hans Memling, we have Max Ernst. At first, you are a little startled when you see this painting of a man's submerged head in a pool that so obviously doesn’t belong with the others, but after a while, you are looking forward to each new room to see what the surprise will be.

Some of the paintings are displayed in cases set in the middle of the room, and then in other rooms, they are hung from metal grids. Very interesting. The depth of the collection here is excellent. I loved the round painting by Hans Holbein, the Younger of Simon George; he is holding a small red flower, and the colors are still so fresh and beautiful that you can almost feel him breathe. They own a Vermeer, several Rembrandts, Rubens, Goyas, a Van Gogh, and more. Check your map of the museum carefully, or you will miss some of the collection. You need to search to find some of the Impressionist works. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours, at least, to appreciate this collection.

Städelsches Kunstinstitut
Schaumainkai 63
Frankfurt, Germany, 60596
+49 69 6050980

Judusches Museum

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

As it's located in the former Rothchild House, this is an ideal location for a museum documenting the history of the Jews in Frankfurt. The only displays here that have any English on them are the ones on the Rothchild family. For the remainder of the museum, you are given a huge, loose-leaf notebook with pages covering some of the other displays. This is cumbersome and totally inadequate to do it justice. It is a shame, really; they need to do a brochure in English, even if it is one you need to purchase, or an audio tour. There is so much here that it is impossible to follow along in the loose-leaf (it is very confusing), and we missed a lot.

We began our visit at 4pm and the museum closes at 5pm. This was a mistake; you need more than an hour here. The first exhibit we visited was the one on the Rothchild family and their contributions to the history of not only Frankfurt but also all of Germany. Their house is the only one of a Jewish family to survive in Frankfurt. The Allied bombing destroyed the whole area of the former Jewish ghetto. Mayor Carl Rothchild purchased this house when Jews were allowed to live outside the ghetto after 1811. Actually, the fact that the Jews in Frankfurt were confined to the Judengasse kept them from being driven out of the city, as they were in so many other German cities after 1462.

On the first floor (second for Americans), we begin to cover the history 1100-1800. We learn about the attitudes of Christians toward Jews and how this led to the formation of the ghetto. Columns describe Jewish rituals, burials, and the ritual baths. There is a copy of a Kurdish drinking cup--the original survived the war and in 1951 was given to the Israel Museum. There is a model of the Judengasse, and you will understand after looking at it why it took only 24 hours in 1711, 1721, and 1796 for it to be reduced to ashes. An area that should have only housed several hundred people housed several thousand.

On the second floor, we are introduced to the atrocities of the Nazi era, as well as displays of typical Jewish holidays, festivals, and celebrations. We see a Seder, a bar mitzvah, shivah, and a circumcision. There is a table set for the Shabbat. There are typical shops set up--shops belonging to a lawyer and a doctor, cases of menorahs, illuminated manuscripts, and other ceremonial items. At one point, you can climb up and look at a scroll of the Torah.

This is a fascinating museum, and I wish we had allowed more time to visit it. I also hope that they will consider making it easier for their English-speaking visitors. Entrance was 2.60 euros for adults.

Jüdisches Museum
Untermainkai 14-15
Frankfurt, Germany, 60311
+49 69 2123 5000

St. Bartholomew Cathedral

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

What drew us to the Dom was the Anthony Van Dyke painting, "The Lamentation," which is their treasure.

This cathedral is a marvelous mix of the very old and the very modern. The inside is a very appealing rosy color stone. The windows are plain glass or new colored glass, and I had to wonder if before the war they were stained glass. The capitals of the columns are a beautiful red with gold leaves.

Historically, St. Bartholomew’s has served as the main place of worship for the Carolingian court and from 1562 on it replaced Aachen as the location of the Imperial coronations. Though technically not a cathedral, it has earned this title because of its importance.

Excavations have proven that a church was on this site serving the Frankish court in the 7th century. As you approach the cathedral, you will encounter some of the archeological excavations and you can walk down into them.

The treasury costs 2 euros to visit, and it is well worth the price. During renovations in the early 1990s, a 7th-century grave was discovered. It contained a Merovingian girl, and the items that were found in the grave are now on display in this museum. They include some gold jewelry and some pottery fragments. The case with this display is the first one as you enter the museum.

As you would expect with a cathedral museum, the majority of the exhibits are of a religious nature. There is a spectacular gold chalice

with a base that has engravings done in the style of Albrecht Durer. There is also a gold monstrance dating from the 15th century. The St. Bartholomew reliquaries are also pieces worth searching out.

There are cases filled with splendid vestments whose embroidery will amaze you, not only but its intricacy but because it has survived for so many centuries. The cathedral and the museum can be done in under an hour.

Dom St. Bartholomaus
Domplatz 1
Frankfurt, Germany, 60311
49 69 289229

Other Sites to Visit

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by zabelle on January 26, 2004

History Museum This museum was a bit of a disappointment. Most of the exhibits are in German with only one plaque in each room having any English at all. There was no guidebook to buy or even a brochure. We were left to try to understand as best we could what they were trying to tell us.

The models are of particular interest especially the one of the city after the Allied bombing. The destruction was quite complete.

There was a video playing at the model but again no English sub titles at all. There is another large model of the city in the Middle Ages that dominates the first room that you visit.

There are some archeological sites right on the premises.

You get to walk down into the basement and examine the old pieces of wall. The chapel, Saalhofkapelle, which is also in the building, is the oldest building in Frankfurt.

There is a nice collection of old coins and medallions that document the different principalities of Germany. Coburg, Gotha, Hesse, and more are represented. It was interesting to see the images of the rulers on the coins but there were no English subtitles at all in this section.

One other interesting item, if you want to use the bathroom here you have to show your ticket at the coat check area and get a key so it’s not the place for a pit stop.

Frankfurt Churches- In the old town right around the Romerberg there are two churches other than the Dom worth a visit. The first is a Roman Catholic Church the Liebfrauen. Though largely destroyed during the war it has been beautifully restored and now has some really interesting art in the form of the Stations of the Cross. They are by Hetty Krist and not quite like anything I have ever seen before.

There is also a Lourdes Grotto in the outside courtyard where the devoted light candles. The second church is the Old St Nicholas Church and is Lutheran. Though small it is very appealing and if you look at the exterior roof you will see all these little windows. This is where the wives and perhaps other female friends would watch the more raucous activities that would take place in the square. Today during the Christmas Fair a band entertains the shopper from the gallery here. One other church we visited was St Leonhard, they have a Holbein altar piece that is worth a visit if you are a fan or if you are looking for an English speaking Catholic Church then this is the answer to your prayers.

The Romer-

This is the former town hall and it is one of the beautifully reconstructed buildings on the square. We had hopped to get inside to see the Kaisersaal or Imperial Hall but for no reason we could understand it was closed the day we were there.

Goethe Haus- The former home of the famous poet is open to the public and if I had read any of his work I would have visited it, Joe and Bob were very impressed.

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