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Europe’s largest financial centre isn’t short of nicknames – the towering skyline has earned it the moniker ‘Mainhatten’, while its financial links have prompted others to call it ‘Bankfurt’. But there’s more to Frankfurt than just business, says Alexander Wischnewski. Stay on after your meetings are over and discover Goethe’s birthplace, green sauce and great views.
Apple cider – or stöffche – is integral to Frankfurt. In the Sachsenhausen district, it is traditionally served in bembels, stoneware jugs decorated with blue paintings, and accompanied with handkäse, a sour-milk cheese marinated in oil, vinegar and diced onions. Visit rural pub Obsthof (pictured) in the Seckbach suburb to see how it’s produced.
Goethestrasse is an exclusive shopping street, but you don’t have to spend big to pick up designer accessories. Seek out EWA Lagan, a second-hand shop selling vintage designer handbags from €50, with brands such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès.
Local photographer Ulrich Mattner received awards for his reportages, but his curiosity recently turned to the Bahnhofsviertel quarter, which is flanked by the financial centre but home to the red-light district. He published a book that looked at gritty life in the shadows of the skyscrapers, and now leads guided tours of the area.
Gerbermühle has an illustrious past: it’s where local womaniser and poet, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, is said to have met his first love, Marianne. Nowadays, it’s a hotel and restaurant where you can try Frankfurt’s signature dish, grüne sosse (green sauce) – which Goethe’s mother apparently invented. The mixture of locally foraged herbs is traditionally served with potatoes and hardboiled eggs.
More than two million people visit Frankfurt’s museums, such as Städel and Senckenberg, every year. But for something different, try a new one: Caricatura is home to comic art and caricatures by artists such as FW Bernstein and Robert Gernhardt.
There are three coffee shops worth scoping out: family-run Wacker’s Kaffee has been a local institution for almost 100 years – but it’s popular, so be prepared to wait; Bornheim is the prettiest, and housed in an Art Deco building on Berger Strasse; and the famous Uhrtürmchen has more than 40 varieties of roasts.
The delightful Kleinmarkthalle is a two-storey food market, teeming with stalls selling anything from wurst (the best is at Metzgerei Schreiber) to vegan pesto. The perfect place to sample locally made bites.
You’ll need sturdy calves to tackle the 300 steps to the viewing platform of Frankfurt Cathedral, but it’s worth it. Alternatively, the recently reopened wooden Goethe Tower in Stadtwald (city woods) offers views of the Taunus and Spessart mountain ranges. Prefer your view with a drink? Try the rooftop terrace of the Skyline Plaza (pictured).