With its striking three-peaked façade looming over the central Römerberg square, Frankfurt’s historic town hall, the Römer, is one of the city’s most identifiable buildings. The distinctive medieval design, characterized by three stepped gables, adorned with Neogothic embellishments and topped with a domed bell tower, was originally built in the 15th century, but reconstructed after the war to include the now-iconic central balcony.
Today, the Römer also features an additional wing, added in the late 19th-century and linked to the main buildings by a pedestrian bridge, nicknamed the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ after the famous Venice bridge of the same name. Still the center of city council meetings and the house of the municipal leader, the Römer is also a civil registry office and a popular tourist attraction in its own right. For visitors, the undeniable highlight is the magnificent Kaisersaal (Emperor Hall).
The Main River’s south bank is lined with museums, the most impressive being the Städel Museum. The Städel was founded in 1815 by the Frankfurt banker and merchant Johann Friedrich Städel and has grown to contain one of Europe’s finest collections of art. It is also an important historical site; in 1937, many of the museum’s paintings and prints were confiscated after being classified as degenerate art. Nowadays, the Städel’s collection is so extensive that it can only display 600 of the 2,700 paintings it owns.
The museum has a broad and exceptional collection of art, featuring European paintings from seven centuries. The span of artwork begins at the early 14th century, moving into Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods and ending in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some notable artists include Botticelli, Dürer, Van Eyck, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Vermeer and Cézanne.
The Goethe House & Museum is the site where the great German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in 1749. Goethe’s former house is a fantastic and tangible example of the living style of the 18th century Frankfurt's gentry. The house was technically Goethe's parents', and he lived here until moving to Weimar where he died in 1765.
Main features include Goethe's original writing desk and the library on the fourth floor, where Goethe composed his famous epistolary, The Sorrows of Young Werther, and where he began writing Faust. The rooms are decorated with a charming mix of reproduction and original furnishing. The museum is a picture gallery dedicated to the Age of Goethe. The Goethe House & Museum offer an intriguing a peek into 18th century lifestyles and Goethe’s early years.
For many visitors, the first introduction to Germany’s fast-expanding business and financial center is its main railway station, a building of classical elegance and proportion. Frankfurt’s iron-and-glass Hauptbahnhof was designed by Johann Wilhelm Schwedler and Hermann Eggert and opened for business in 1888; the roof of the Neo-Renaissance central hall is topped with a vast statue of Atlas bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. Since then, the station has been consistently updated, with two further passenger halls being constructed on either side of the main terminal in 1924. Although the Hauptbahnhof was damaged in World War II, expansion continued and now it has 24 mainline tracks; it is also a terminus for the S-Bahn (rapid transit commuter trains), U-Bahn (metro line) and tram services into the city.
The Palm Garden (or Palmengarten) is the largest garden of its kind in Germany. The botanical exhibitions are organized according to their geographic origin in open air or climate-controlled greenhouses. The Palm Garden is famous worldwide for its ample collection of native, tropical, and subtropic flora. In addition to the plants, it offers a variety of activities including guided tours, summer concerts, evening festivals and exhibitions.
The Frankfurt Palmengarten is a public site, financed and implemented by the architect Heinrich Siesmayer. The garden was completed in 1871 and subsequently opened to the public. The Palm Garden was revamped in the 1960s when a major reconstruction effort was begun to develop and expand the existing structures.