Updated: Oct 19, 2021
The first time I saw Frankfurt was on the stage of Haifa's theater. My father, Josef Mundi, who was a playwright and a theater director, wrote a play about Frankfurt.
"The joyful nights of Frankfurt", describing a dusky nightclub, located right by the central train station with some shady and flamboyant main characters. A decadent ambiance post war.
There were no city images in the theater setting but rather twinkling lights and smoke. The provocative and extravagant plot has dramatically stirred me. I knew I have to visit Frankfurt, which was an effervescent source of inspiration for my father's play. To see what it is all about, and why it has created such a storm.
Years later. In July 2021, I traveled from Wiesbaden to Frankfurt, a short-distance train trip, only 40 minutes.
It was the weekend. This city is known as the finance center city in Germany, the main banks offices are located there as other start-up companies. I would find the leisure and distraction, among other aspects of this well-known business city.
A weekend in Frankfurt
The Botanical Garden
There was so much to see and learn about the city, that a weekend was only an appetizer. I have found Frankfurt, fascinating with abundant culture and nature. I didn't expect from a city reputed for its prospering finance to be so green and diverse.
So let's focus on the highlights of this unique city.
My hotel -Melia was closed to the botanical gardens -"The Palmentgarden."
It was super hot, and walking in the shade of various exotic trees was the right way to start my Frankfurt experience.
Being among nurtured trees and a giant waterfall, ressources the body and soul. This botanical garden offers it all : different gardens and exotic plants -a fantastic collection from all over the world outside as inside the greenhouses. And if you feel like resting, there is a unique space with lounge chairs that you may lay on them and fall asleep. It was pretty meditative to stay there for a while and just relaxing. I was filling my self with healing energies.
I drove with the underground a few stations and got out at the Opera. It is an impressive, old stylish building, standing by the fountain next to it, I could notice strike out from the distance the modern skyscrapers
I had the feeling of walking in a city where the past meets the future. They even shake hands and sit together for a coffee to exchange ideas.
The alleys had destroyed most of the historical monuments and buildings after the second world war.
The city was left shattered, unrecognisable. Within time; it was completely refurbished and has evolved astonishingly.
The Romerberg - The new-old town.
"Where is the old town"? I have asked a friendly habitant. He told me that he works in a bank and enjoys a quiet weekend. He also advised me to have a nice walk first in the Romerberg, the restored of the old city center, walk all along one bank of the river Main and then cross the bridge to the other side.
Saturday afternoon, many people were hanging in the hectic shopping district. There was a move of the crowd towards one direction, I have followed it.
I have reached the iconic Romerberg Platz- the center of the old town that was rebuilt from the ruins. With the significant town hall, the Romer, the Fountain of Justice. The representative half-timbered houses, renewed from the Middle- Ages. Someone told me it looks too perfect. As if I was on a movie set. Perhaps, because Frankfurt already interlaced in my mind from the imaginative play of my father, I was still living a theatrical happening fused with reality. It balanced flawlessly with the futuristic skyscrapers located on the other side.
I was, however, drawn by another pretty square near the Romerberg Platz, Huhenmarkt, also named by the famous German poet Friedrich the Stolze. There is a museum in the back. "Struwwelpeter" it is dedicated to the beloved author's children's book Heinrich Hoffman. ( I will visit it next time I am in Frankfurt with other museums I haven't had the time to see)
I continued my excursion and walked on the Iron Bridge. When you stand on it and look at the horizon: The river Main surrounded by the unusual mixture of architecture: The skyscrapers are next to the classical buildings. It is an exciting view. The changing lights as the darkness was falling has created a mysterious- enchanting ambiance.
The mood of the city changed as soon as I have crossed the bridge.
It felt a lot quieter and less crowded. I have passed some artistic, sophisticated Villas.
The Museumufer: Museum embankment. The landscape of the museums lined up on both sides of the banks.
I will tell you more later about the incredible choice of Museums in Frankfurt.
Another sociable local that I met spontaneously on my way, gave me some very nice recommendations for places, where to eat or drink a good coffee. I told her that I love creative Coffee Houses, and she has given me the address of one of the best Cafés I have ever been to. She also told me about the quarter Sachsenhausen, it is residential and at the same time animated and lively with a variety of restaurants and bars. I followed her advice and turned into Schwizer street, one of the most popular and frequented by the inhabitants.
This funky quarter has provided me some great meetings with people who live in the city or visit it. Overall the atmosphere there is lay back and cool.
In the typical ,traditional German restaurant Wagner, you live the experience of Germany from the previous century. Sitting on an extended bench with strangers around a long wooden table, you start a conversation as you try some culinary specialties such as the GrunSauce- the green sauce, which is nicely flavoured. It accompanied a popular dish: the potatoes with egg and I drank the Apfelwein- Apple wine, the current wine here, it tasted like cider. The atmosphere was cheerful.
Two blocks away, another famous restaurant- institution "Zum gemalten Haus" packed with happy diners. The place looks like a kind of a museum inside. It is charming with a lovely beer garden. It was pretty crowded.
There are so many activities to do in this inventive city.
I was a tourist who visited Frankfurt for the first time. I wanted to combine the must-do sites with the intuitive feel. In the tour bus hop on, hop off, I heard explanations about the renowned financial companies established in the city. The skyline of the skyscrapers had given Frankfurt the nickname " Mainhatten."
Personally I found a kind of London trace in Frankfurt.
The river Main with the animated banks had reminded me of the Thames river. The assemblage of offices buildings in the city's center recalled" the city in London." The busy long shopping street resembles to Oxford street.
What has added to the "British vibes" was the exceptional exhibition of Gilbert and George, the English artists in the Schrin Kunsthalle Museum ( The museum's tendency has reminded me of the Tate modern) This modern, upfront original museum offers various collections. I appreciated as well the Canadians painting exhibition.
Frankfurt embraces many other fabulous museums, from The Städel up to a Cinema museum. But maybe if you are short in time, you will need to choose.
In the Historical Museum of Frankfurt, I plunged into the complex past of this city. It exposes Frankfurt, how it has developed through the centuries. To cover even third of what this Museum proposes, needs a separate article. Being a puppeteer myself, the exhibition of the artist Liesel Simon touched me deeply. (It is a part of the permanent exhibition -Frankfurt from former times)
She was a skilled, creative puppeteer who formed one of the first puppets theater in Frankfurt which became quickly successful from 1920. When Germany was occupied by the Nazi regime, she lost her ability to run her own theater. The threat upon her life and of her family became imminent due to their Jewish origins. She fled from Germany to Equator in 1941,and she has never came back.
From these shadowy times, I went out to another sunny welcoming morning. I did a cruise on the Main that lasted an hour and a half. The scenery was picturesque.
The monuments embellished both sides of the river, and you have a large view over the Main
Another way to experience the past of Frankfurt was doing the "Time Ride." adress- Berliner Strase 42a. It is an opportunity to explore Frankfurt from the 19th century in virtual reality. You go on a journey through time, as if you were living there. The effect is powerful. It immerses you in the landscape and architecture of the stunning Frankfurt, as initially built. It is an entertainment adventure for adultes as children.
I had to return to the promenade of the river banks. It is just so pleasant to do. The path by the river leaded me to an exotic garden with rich and wild Mediterranean vegetation No wonder it is called Nizza garden.
One of the most prominent Museums is located on the other side of the river- The Städel Museum . It contains an extensive collection of wonderful paintings, mainly from the Baroque and Renaissance. The artworks by old masters like Rembrandt, Monnaie, Picasso, among other leading painters, I saw the temporary exhibition of the German painter Max Bachmann which was amazing.
It takes minimum good few hours to see all this museum has to offer. Or maybe like the Louvre in Paris. You have to return again and again to view all the treasures it has.
Remember, someone, advised me to go to a charming coffee house in an unexpected place. This Café belongs to the Museum Liebieghaus-
A sculpture museum right by the Museum The Städel.
I was in the heart of a serene garden, surrounded by exquisite sculptures and plants, drinking an artisanal coffee. I was immersed in the green scenery as I was in the botanical gardens. Being far away from the busy Metropolis. Sitting in this Café was so inspiring that I had returned there twice, and if I were living in Frankfurt, I would have become a loyal customer. I enjoyed so much the atmosphere that it has created.
When I arrived to the old beautiful train station, to apprehend what is it about this quarter that had inflamed my father's imagination. Was he visiting Frankfurt? Did he base his characters and plot on true events? I have never confirmed it with him. All of a sudden, a tram passed, like by chance with the publicity of Tel Aviv and Frankfurt- twin sisters.
In the evening, the lights were mirroring in the river Main. The city looked like under a spell. The weight of the past was facing an aspiring future.
The Melia hotel contributed a lot to my smooth and well being experience of the Futuristic Frankfurt. The architecture of the particular skyscraper is already a glance to the modern advanced vision of this city.
There is a panoramic view over the city from the high floor. The landscape of Frankfurt from my room's balcony was spectacular. This 4 stars hotel offers a very comfortable staying with spacy, sophisticated design room. The luxurious bath products of Rituals and a quality breakfast.
The location is perfect, a few minutes' walk from the Natural history museum as they are located in the same street Senckenberganlage, it is also nearby by the Botanical gardens.
A few tube stops and you arrive to the city center.
Text and Photos by