This old imperial city on the River Main - hence its full name, Frankfurt am Main - is, by virtue of its central situation, an important commercial and economic centre. The city's skyline, dominated by the great cluster of high-rise buildings in the banking quarter, has a distinct North American flavour, earning Frankfurt the nicknames "Mainhattan" and "Chicago on the Main."
This bustling metropolis in the heart of Europe is known throughout the world for its exciting and unusual contrasts. 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.
The Romerberg, Frankfurt's Old Town Center is an irregularly shaped square with the Justice Fountain (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen) at its centre. Not only is it Frankfurt's most picturesque public square, it's the city's busiest pedestrian zone and home to numerous tourist attractions and things to do. The area also includes the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus), with its Imperial Hall (Kaisersaal), once the scene of splendid banquets and other notable buildings include the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) from 1908; the 14th-century Gothic Church of St. Leonhard; and St. Nicholas Church, with its carillon. Also of interest here is the Historical Museum, founded in 1878.
On the Bockenheimer Landstrasse is the beautiful 54-acre Palm Garden (Palmengarten), the largest botanic garden in Germany. An instant hit with the public upon its opening in 1871, it attracted some of the top performers from around the world, including Buffalo Bill, who visited with his Wild West show in 1890. Highlights are outdoor botanical exhibits laid out according to their geographical location, along with a number of greenhouses containing subtropical and tropical plant species. Other Frankfurt parks of interest are the 72-acre Gruneburgpark Botanic Garden and the even larger Nidda Valley People's Park (Volkspark Niddatal) covering some 415 acres on the outskirts of the city.
Frankfurt was the birthplace of Germany's greatest writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His family home, Goethe House, where Goethe was born on August 28, 1749, and lived until 1765, shows how the well-to-do family and their staff would have lived. You can see everything from the sumptuously decorated dining room on the main floor to Goethe's writing room on the top floor, where he penned many of his early works and where he played as a child with his puppet theatre. Next-door is the Goethe Museum, a 14-room gallery showcasing artworks from the writer's time, including masterpieces of the Late Baroque and Romantic periods.
St. Bartholomew's Cathedral was built of red sandstone in Gothic style between the 13th and 15th centuries, and at 95 meters, still manages to stand out in this city of skyscrapers. One of only a handful of churches in Germany to be designated as an Imperial Cathedral, it was here from 1562 to 1792 that the coronation of Emperors took place in the Election Chapel. The cathedral's most important relic is the skullcap of St. Bartholomew, kept in the Late Romanesque Bartholomew's Choir.
The Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art is widely regarded as one of Europe's most important galleries of contemporary art. Opened in 1991 in a stunning post-modern building in the heart of the city, the museum includes in its vast collection some 5,000 fine examples from more than 450 leading artists. Spanning from the 1960s to the present, works are by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Francis Bacon.