German christmas markets have become a staple in London during the festive season but it can’t really compare with the genuine article! On my recent trip to Frankfurt I actually experienced the opening of the main christmas markets in the Aldstadt (Old Town). It was truly magical. The carousels began to turn, the music started playing and suddenly all the lights switched on and the whole of the Römerberg Plaza became illuminated with twinkly coloured lights. You’ll have to imagine the accompanying smells of Apfelwein, Lebkuchen and gingerbread!
I thought I’d share a few of my other tourist highlights in case any of you are visiting Frankfurt any time soon.
STADEL – Schaumainkai 63, 60596 Frankfurt am Main
The Städel is one of the biggest art collections in Germany. It is mostly drawings and paintings, although there is a huge library as well and an impressive sculpture collection. The building itself is stunning and overlooks the river, fronted by a pretty garden containing a few more sculptures.
DIE KLEINMARKTHALLE – Hasengasse 5, 60311 Frankfurt am Main
This covered market was a labyrinth of colourful fruit and veg stands, lanterns lighting the paths and twinkly fairy lights adorning the stalls. It reminded me a little of similar covered markets in the UK, except far more magical!
WOOD CARVING SHOP – Römerberg Plaza
This shop didn’t seem to have a name but the building was a dark green with a picture of a tree. This charming little shop was filled with brightly painted wood crafts and decorations. Given the season this tiny shop was overflowing with the most stunning woodwork creations for Christmas; windmills, vignettes, figurines and music boxes seemed to be overflowing from every shelf.
Germany doesn’t have a reputation for being veggie-friendly – I was imagining a lot of meat and potatoes before we arrived and I wasn’t far off – but the chicken-free schnitzel I sampled was incredible. The stall I found offered potato, aubergine and tofu variations. Make sure you get yours with mustard and fried onions for the full experience!
EISERNER STEG (Lovelock bridge) – Mainkai, 60311 Frankfurt am Main
If you’re not familiar with the concept of the lovelock bridge, the idea is a couple writes their name on a padlock, secures it to a bridge and throws away the key, thus ensuring their love can never be broken. There are a number of these bridges around but I found this one particularly beautiful; the padlocks looped to the higher structure of the bridge made delicate garlands and looping boughs.
MYZEIL SHOPPING CENTRE – Zeil
Zeil is the main shopping street in Frankfurt. I was eager to visit the MyZeil mall for the architecture! The building is full of majestic curves and the central glass mirror structure is light-harvesting, meaning most of the mall is lit using reflected sunlight from the column rather than needing swathes of electric lighting. Pretty cool! I particularly enjoyed the views from the top floor and the rotating escalators; it felt a bit like a space-age film set!
If you like architecture I would also recommend DEUTSCHES ARCHITEKTURMUSEUM. When I went there was a review the International Highrise Award, as well as a whole floor documenting the many skyscrapers in Frankfurt and their history. It definitely enhanced all my skyline-viewing for the rest of the trip!
So there we go! Let me know if you’re off to Frankfurt anytime soon, or your favourite places if you’ve been before. I’m hoping to get back there sometime soon!