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Frankfurt is Germany's financial center and the shiny skyscrapers of banks and insurance companies reflect this. This doesn't really sound like a recommendation to visit this city, because what are you supposed to do in a financial district that is probably deserted at night and on weekends? Think again, as Frankfurt is a lively city with a small, but beautifully restored historic center, nice shops, interesting museums and a bustling nightlife. Nightlife in such a 'boring' city? Absolutely, because did you know that approximately 40,000 students live in Frankfurt?
During World War II the city was heavily bombed and a large part of the old buildings were destroyed. You can find the old part of Frankfurt around the Römerberg, which is surrounded by half-timbered houses, one of the nicest ones being the Rathaus Römer with a typical red sandstone stepped gable. In front of the Rathaus there's a fountain with a statue of Lady Justice. Remarkably enough she is not blindfolded! The Nikolaikirche (originally from the thirteenth century) is also located on the Römerberg. In December, the Frankfurt Christmas Market is held here.
At the end of July or beginning of August, the Römerberg also forms the center of the Main Festival. This event is a centuries-old tradition. It was originally a festival for fishermen, during which free wine flowed from the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen. The free wine no longer flows, but the festival still exists. It is sort of a large fair, with the traditional Fischerstechen on the Main, which ends every night with a large fireworks display.
On the other side of the Main another historic district was preserved: Alt-Sachsenhausen. Here you can also find the typical half-timbered houses, which nowadays house many cafés, bars and restaurants. It is the city's main entertainment area, where you can drink a nice glass of cider in the Ebbelwei Kneipen. Alt-Sachsenhausen is dominated by two towers: The 43-meter-high wooden Goetheturm and the 120-meter-high Henninger Turm, a former grain silo.
Frankfurt houses a large number of museums that are concentrated in the Museumufer. As the name suggests, this is the area near the Main riverbank with for example the Film Museum, the Architecture Museum, the Städel Museum (paintings, statues, drawings and other graphic art from the fourteenth century onwards) and the Liebieghaus. The Museumuferfest takes place the last weekend of August. This event draws millions of visitors.
Let's just briefly discuss Frankfurt's financial role. It sounds boring but the city houses a really interesting museum on Frankfurt's economic activity. The Money Museum not only provides an overview of coins, bank notes and other means of payment from all over the world, but it is also a real 'DIY' museum. You can take on the role of the President of the Central Bank, chancellor or banker and in the imaginary land of Nonpekunia you can experience how difficult it is to engage in trading when money doesn't exist. You can also visit the Frankfurt Stock Exchange but you need to sign up for this at least one working day in advance.
Frankfurt is surrounded by beautiful nature. Northwest of the city lies the low mountain range of Taunus, of which the highest part – the Hoch Taunus – is a protected nature reserve. When driving around the Taunus you not only enjoy nature, but will also pass through picturesque villages and along old castles and fortresses. Southeast of Frankfurt there's another nature park: Spessart, which consists of lower mountains and hills. There are a number of trails throughout the area.
About forty kilometers west of Frankfurt lies the enjoyable city of Mainz. In the local taverns you can enjoy excellent food and of course sample local wines. Mainz is the birthplace of book printing; you can learn all about it in the Gutenberg Museum. Another fun museum is the Landesmuseum, which exhibits for example objects from people who lived in this area 300 000 (!) years ago.
In Hanau, east of Frankfurt, you'll find the birthplace of the brothers Grimm. It houses a small exhibition about their lives and work. Hanau is also the starting point of the German Fairy Tale Route, which runs all the way to Bremen!
Like in some other German cities, Frankfurt's center is a so-called 'Umweltzone'. Only cars with a special sticker on their windshield can drive around here. Parking on the street is extremely expensive in the center. In spite of these high rates, almost all parking spaces are taken during the day. There are several parking garages, but rates are rather high here as well. As an alternative you can leave your rental car at one of the five large P+R areas on the outskirts of the city. From here you can take public transportation to continue your journey.
Frankfurt International Airport is located twelve kilometers southwest of the city. Frankfurt is surrounded by freeways and it is therefore easy to get to the airport (outside of rush hour). Frankfurt Rhein Main Airport is located near the junction (Frankfurter Kreuz) of the A3 and A5 freeways.
Budget airlines use Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, which is located 120 kilometers west of the city. This airport is not situated directly along a highway and you should therefore count approximately two hours between Frankfurt and the airport.