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Frankfurt am Main - Germany
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Frankfurt's most famous resident, once said that "Frankfurt is full of curiosities." There is still truth in these words today. One such curiosity is the interplay between the traditional and the modern, manifested in the mishmash of towering skyscrapers and tiny, half-timbered houses. With over half a million residents and a large immigrant community, Frankfurt displays all the signs of a unique city to visit.
Ever since the first trade fair took place here in the Middle Ages, Frankfurt has been shaped by business and commerce. "Bankfurt" is home to over 400 banks including the European Central Bank and Bundesbank, as well as continental Europe's biggest Stock Exchange.
After severe Allied bombing in March 1944, Frankfurt's Altstadt (old town) was almost completely destroyed. Yet there are still many sights to see—the Rathaus (City Hall) Römer, the Leinwandhaus, Paulskirche, Dom and Goethehaus are only a few yards apart from each other. For shopping adventures visit the Schillerpassage, Goethestraße or the Fressgass Passage. Evening entertainment in the form of theater or other cultural pursuits can be found in places like Schmiere, Tigerpalast Varieté Theater or the Volkstheater.
In the 1920s, more than 20,000 people lived in the ornate houses close to the main station, the Hauptbahnhof. Today the Bahnhofsviertel (station quarter) is home to just 4000 residents. There are many reasons people frequent this neighborhood, with the 1970s sprout of the red light district being just one. The area is filled with entertainment like the English Theatre and numerous bars and restaurants, like Casablanca Bar. Locals flock here after work in the nearby Banking Quarter.
The district of Bockenheim, home to Frankfurt's Johann Wolfgang Goethe University and some 40,000 students, is extremely lively. The cafés, bistros, pubs, and shops near the university have focused their attentions on the young clientele.
The "merry village" of Bornheim spans the divide between the traditional and the trendy. Old-world cider pubs, spanking-new bars, exclusive boutiques and simple corner shops attract a mixed clientele. At the heart of this residential area is Berger Straße, a great place for a bit of shopping. You'll find entertainment a plenty in the Mousonturm and in the Berger Cinema. If you are in need of relaxation, try the Chinese Garden. The Ice Rink is a perfect spot of energetic fun. The Dippemess Festival, which takes place twice a year, is a good bet for entertainment.
The district of Höchst, which gave its name to the world-famous paint factory, was incorporated into Frankfurt in 1928. The old town's baroque beauty is showcased in the Bolongaro Palace on the Nidda estuary. The Neues Theater Höchst, is a cultural magnet featuring cabaret, comedy and children's theater. Popular concerts and artistic performances take place in the Jahrhunderthalle. The highlight of Höchst's entertainment calendar, however, is the Schloß- und Altstadtfest (Castle and Old Town Festival) during the summer.
Nordend, the most densely populated and popular residential area of Frankfurt, boasts attractive streets and quaint 19th-century houses. It is also home to numerous pubs and small shops. The area hosts a community of wealthy bankers who live alongside the student population. People meet up in one of the many Italian, Greek or Turkish restaurants in the area, or in bars such as Harveys.
Once a run-down working-class district, today Ostend is a much sought-after residential area. This neighborhood offers more than just industrial parks; it houses countless ornate villas and plenty of culture and entertainment possibilities. Literary enthusiasts meet in the Romanfabrik, while young party people head for the LOFT House. In the old warehouses you'll find furniture design shops such as Kontrast, as well as dozens of advertising agencies and film producers.
The district of Sachsenhausen on the opposite bank of the River Main is known for its cider and its old, half-timbered houses. Old Sachsenhausen has lost some of its charm over recent decades due to war and political strife, but it still has a lot to offer. For instance elegant town houses on the river bank and fine boutiques on the elegant Schweizer Straße. Art and culture are alive at Museumsufer, where the National Film Museum, Museum of Ethnology and the Städel Museum are all located.
Westend is situated in the shadows of the skyscrapers and high-rises that are home to the city's banks and financial companies. In the 1970s the district was full of students and squatters demonstrating against the destruction of the area's old buildings. Today, offices and banks lend the area its character. Owners of the luxury flats and penthouse suites meet up to jog in Grüneburg park or relax in the Palm Garden. The recently restored Synagogue, the monumental IG-Farbenhaus and the Alte Oper are all well-worth a visit.