I have often heard people picturing one of the more important cities in Germany – Frankfurt – as also an incredible place to visit with plenty of activities and interesting spots not to be missed. On the other hand I’ve also heard the opposite, mainly from some German friends that either lived in Frankfurt or are originally from there, quoting their words: ”Don’t go there, it’s all about the big skyscrapers and that’s all”.
In situations like this, my curiosity usually grows and I get very intrigued, I want to find out for myself and create my own opinion about the place, in fact especially if someone tells me not to go somewhere I have to, I think it’s like with children, the more you’re telling them not to do certain things the more they have to try and keep doing them – you get the idea of how my mind works.
Straight after having been to the very charming Hamburg and the incredibly amazing Berlin, we made our way to Frankfurt and stayed for about 5 days to make sure we had enough time to explore the city. On our way to Frankfurt the guy that we were sharing the car ride with gave us few tips and suggestions about things to do and see, but he didn’t say anything different from what we’d read already, which unfortunately for us meant nothing off-the-beaten path which it’s what we were hoping for. That didn’t discourage us at all, in fact most of the time we manage to find these spots by ourselves by going where tourists don’t usually go.
It was night time already when we arrived in Frankfurt and it was unavoidable to see the big and tall skyscrapers that everyone was talking about all lit up contrasting with the darkness of the sky. At first everything looked incredibly nice: a lovely skyline especially at night and by the river, busy city life which we don’t mind at all, and the tall skyscrapers of which we were so interested in seeing the architecture and design of.
The Initial Enthusiasm Didn’t Last Very Long Though
Frankfurt is well known for being a very important financial hub for Germany itself and for Europe too, in effect it is the home of the European Central Bank and the German Stock Exchange both very important economic entities. We were interested in seeing what else there was apart from that. We walked everywhere (as we usually do), we stayed in two different areas in Frankfurt, one close to the main businesses, the other in the red light district to make sure we would experience two different realities of Frankfurt and have a fair opinion about it. We made sure to see the main attractions like the beautiful Römerberg Square of which I loved the typical timber-framed buildings or the popular Kleinmarkthalle a very busy and lively market full of tourists. We also went in areas a bit less popular that we liked the most like the residential Bornheim full of little local shops, a lot of vegetarian and vegan food places, little markets and some street art too which we are always pleased to discover. But we were still not satisfied and started to realize that we weren’t liking Frankfurt that much.
What Went Wrong?
For us Frankfurt felt a bit sterile, it was like the big and new buildings and skyscrapers almost wiped away most of the previous Frankfurt’s personality and changed it into the big financial hub everyone talks about. We felt like what was left of the historic side of Frankfurt was kind of left behind and a little bit forgotten in favour of the financial side that makes the city so important nowadays. Most of the city center is well looked after, the buildings are in good condition but the more we walked away from it the more we started to notice the contrast and diversity with some of the other less central areas which were in some cases more run down and less sparkling. Frankfurt is definitely a city of contrasts probably like any other city, but it was something we weren’t expecting from a city with such an important financial reputation. While the banking and financial centre looked almost pristine, the rest of the city didn’t.
To us personally the city lacked some of that something special to make it something more than just the core for business men flying in and out. The few parts and things about Frankfurt that we liked weren’t enough for us to encourage someone else to visit. Despite we loved some of Frankfurt’s areas – the more local Bornheim district for instance – we were kind of glad to leave when our 5 days ran out. Even the cutting edge architecture that usually really get us both, didn’t sell it at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we hated Frankfurt, there are plenty of things and activities to do like in any other big city and I’m sure that living there must be very different than just stopping by for a few days, but I don’t see myself returning to Frankfurt unless I have to for a particular reason.
Despite not particularly liking Frankfurt, I didn’t feel let down by it because I didn’t really know what to expect after having heard opposite opinions and point of views. When I stepped into Frankfurt I wanted to make my own judgment based on my impression which unfortunately wasn’t very positive. I don’t regret having been to Frankfurt though, I am aware that I cannot like every place I go to but there will always be something good or bad that it will make me remember it.