Frankfurt

Frankfurt: museum of truth, beauty and virtue.

Frankfurt is first and foremost a city of modernity. Business, architecture and Europe's third-largest airport – they're all here and they're all at the cutting edge. Perhaps that's why Frankfurt has grown a particular fondness for museums that vary greatly in terms of size, style and subject matter. The city prides itself on always staying ahead of the times, whilst preserving traditions at the same time.

Most people associate Frankfurt with brokers, banks, stocks and shares – and they wouldn't be wrong, but there is much more to the city than just big business. Frankfurt does, after all, have an unrivalled museum scene. The museum embankment on the southern bank of the Main is a wonder to behold, in particular the magnificent Städel Institute of Art with the Municipal Gallery. Situated in the heart of Frankfurt's museum mile, this is of one Germany's preeminent art galleries and features masterpieces spanning nine centuries of European art. The recently opened underground extension houses a collection of works from 1945 onwards, including such famous names as Joseph Beuys and Gerhard Richter. To the east of the gallery you will find the film museum and the architecture museum, which in itself is an innovative and unconventional example of building design. And just a stone's throw from there stands the Museum of Applied Art (MAK). A thousand years of arts and crafts are represented in this striking building designed by American architect Richard Meier. On the opposite riverbank, again only a few minutes away, the Museum of Modern Art (MMK) designed by Hans Hollein is well worth a visit. As is the Schirn Kunsthalle gallery, which has made a name for itself a leading exhibition house in Germany and Europe. There are also a number of smaller galleries around the cathedral, some of which are less mainstream but feature exceptional displays of art nonetheless. You can even admire art in the metro system. The Grenzland (borderland) project at the Dom/Römer station, for example, showcases works that blur the lines between art, architecture and design.

From its early days in the 12th century to its new beginnings after 1945, Jewish culture and history have often reached beyond the realms of comprehension. The Jewish Museum, housed within the historical rooms of the former Rothschild Palace, and its Judengasse branch bear witness to this past with both sensitivity and accuracy. Frankfurt's most famous son is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. You can retrace the famous writer's footsteps for a glimpse of 18th century Frankfurt. For example at Goethe's House or in the slightly less poetic setting of the Gerbermühle, a quaint beer garden on the banks of the river Main, where the great poet indulged in an occasional glass of cider in his day. The Gerbermühle was also a likely haunt of the Frankfurt doctor Heinrich Hoffmann, whose illustrated Struwwelpeter books became classics of children's literature. In a beautiful old villa in the upmarket Westend district there is a museum devoted to the children's author, featuring drawings, rare editions of his works, translations, parodies and much more besides. And if that tickles your funny bone, you should be sure to stop by Caricatura, Germany's leading museum for sophisticated satire and comic art. F.W. Bernstein, Robert Gernhardt, Chlodwig Poth, Hans Traxler, F.K. Waechter, Bernd Pfarr and many others are guaranteed to put a smile on visitors' faces.

It might be more serious, but the financial district is well worth a visit for a true taste of Frankfurt. The towering banks and office blocks form Europe's most impressive skyline, and Frankfurt's ultimate landmark. But rest assured, the art found in this part of the city is also of international standing. Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and DZ Bank own art collections any museum would be proud of, and these are opened to the public at certain times. Skyscrapers as art galleries? Only in Frankfurt.

Highlights

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