Frankfurt, Germany’s fifth largest city, may not have the most tourist attractions but it’s certainly easy to get around. The centre is flat with large areas that are pedestrian only. For visitors wishing to get around a little faster, there are a number of bike hire outlets and there seems to be a good network of bike lanes. There is one that follows the Main River for quite a way although other roadside bike lanes appear to be well marked and wide enough that pedestrians and cars do not encroach on their space.
We started our walk at one of Germany’s leading art galleries, the Stadel Museum on Schaumainkai. We found a path to the riverside and walked as far as the ‘Eiserner Steg’ (Iron Footbridge). All along this stretch of the south bank of the Main, stalls had been set up between three large floating screens, each broadcasting the Women’s Football World Cup, which was being played in Germany that year (with the final played in Frankfurt). While most of the rest of the world seemed sadly oblivious to its existence, Frankfurt was doing a good job of encouraging locals to watch and support the event. Pop up bars sold local apfelwein and a variety of sausage-based snacks and laid out seating in front of the screens and just beyond the food and drink stalls, play areas were set up for younger visitors with bouncy castles and the like. All in all it made for a very colourful walk. When we passed by there were no games showing so the area was very quiet but we were told that during a match it’s almost impossible to find a space unless you arrive 2-3 hours before kick off.
The Eiserner Steg connects the area of Sachsenhausen to the centre of Frankfurt. It was completed in 1869 and was the first suspension bridge in Europe. It is only open to foot traffic and offers a good place to photograph the Main River, the Dom steeple and some Frankfurt cityscapes.
Across the bridge are the old town and the Romer Square. The ‘Romer’ building is the town hall of Frankfurt and like many of the historic buildings lining the square, was destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt afterwards in its original image. We walked towards St. Bartholomeus’s Cathedral and through the excavated ruins of a Roman settlement. The ‘Dom’ was originally constructed in the 14th century but rebuilt in 1867 after it was destroyed in a fire. There was further reconstruction in the 1950s after the interior was burnt out by wartime bombing. The newness of its interior shows, with its clay red brickwork and clear glass windows in place of stained. It is quite modest in size and the interior is surprisingly spartan. The only ornate and grand pieces of note were the organ, with its colossal array of angled pipework, and some small but striking gilt and wood altarpieces. The cathedral is free to visit.