TravelA cultural guide to Frankfurt’s Altstadt

Discover the financial hub’s historical highlights

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Germany’s fifth largest city, Frankfurt, is one of the most important financial centres in the world. Home to both the European Central Bank and Deutsche Bundesbank (the German central bank), it is the financial powerhouse of Europe’s largest economy. 

This prestige is reflected in its dramatic modern architecture. The 10 tallest buildings in Germany are located here, including the Commerzbank Tower and Messeturm.

Frankfurt may be a 21st-century metropolis, but just a short walk from Jumeirah Frankfurt is the city’s reconstructed Altstadt, the Old Town. 

Tracing its roots back to Roman times, the city’s timeline can be seen in the beautiful Archaeological Garden, – an open-air archaeological site overseen by a museum – where you’ll find remnants of a Roman settlement and an imperial palace dating back to the Carolingian era.

The Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew – known locally as the Kaiserdom, and originally consecrated in 1239 – was the site of 10 imperial coronations between 1562 and 1792. Destroyed by fire in 1867, it was reconstructed in the Neo-Gothic style by German architect Franz Josef Denzinger in the late 19th century. 

The impressive Cathedral Museum details the archaeological findings of the past, going back as early as the 7th century, as well as religious items from reliquaries to vestments. Enchanting evening concerts are performed here throughout the year.

 

The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is one of Europe’s most respected art institutions, although the modern exterior and art inside are anomalous to the historical Altstadt. The museum exhibits retrospectives of major 20th-century artists from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Neïl Beloufa, as well as fun MiniSchirn activities for kids.  

 

Contemporary art aficionados should also try the MMK Museum of Modern Art on the northern edge of Frankfurt’s Old Town.

Those interested in the city’s heritage can visit the Historical Museum, where they’ll find a permanent exhibition tracing Frankfurt’s history from Medieval times to the present day. 

Römerberg, meanwhile, is the large cobblestoned public square in the centre of the Altstadt, with its 15th-century, candy-coloured town hall surrounded by small cafés. Sit here with a coffee and gaze at the colourful, half-timbered facades of the Ostzeile, a series of half a dozen buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries reconstructed to their original design. 

In the square you’ll also find the Fountain of Justice, the oldest fountain in Frankfurt, created by the sculptor Johann Hocheisen in 1611, and the 13th-century Old St Nicholas Church.   

Just behind the square is one of Frankfurt’s most recent renovation projects, the Domrömer. This pioneering new quarter of 15 reconstructed buildings also houses 20 new ones with restaurants and craft workshops, as well as the new City Hall Market.   

Also behind Römerberg is the spacious Paulsplatz (St Paul’s Square), home to the 18th-century St Paul’s Church. The seat of the Frankfurt Parliament, Germany’s first freely elected parliament, it is also the location of a speech given by US President John F Kennedy during a visit in 1963.  

 

Finally, finish your cultural tour of Frankfurt’s Altstadt by paying a visit to Goethe House, the birthplace and family home of the great German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, that now houses a collection of art inspired by Goethe and the Romanticism movement.

 

Explore the historic neighbourhood of Frankfurt’s Altstadt, near Jumeirah Frankfurt in Germany’s financial capital.