Frankfurt am Main and its skyline

written on 21/08/2020
by Michael Lutz & Friedhelm Schulz

Frankfurt (am Main) is a city of contrasts. Wealthy bankers, students, hipsters and greenies coexist in a city that has some of the highest, most avant-garde skyscrapers of Europe (for whom it is often called Main-hattan) next to well maintained old buildings.

Frankfurt is the most diverse city in Germany and has the highest percentage of foreigners in the country: about 28% of Frankfurt's 750.000 residents (which make it the 5th biggest city in Germany) have no German passport and another 20% are naturalized German citizens.

In addition, about 350,000 people commute to the city each day. With a huge airport — the fourth busiest in Europe — it is the gateway to Germany and for many people also the first point of arrival in Europe.

The city centre, especially Römer square, the cultural landscape with its theatres and world-class opera and the museums at the River Main, draw millions of tourists every year.

On the other hand, many off-the-beaten-track neighbourhoods, such as Bockenheim, Bornheim, Nordend and Sachsenhausen, with their intact beautiful 19th century streets and parks are often overlooked by visitors.

The drink to try when visiting Frankfurt is apple wine, e.g. in one of the old ebbelwoi bars and Kneipen in Sachsenhausen, south of the river, or Bornheim (located in the north). Apple wine is known in hessian dialect as "Ebbelwoi", "Äppler" or "Stöffsche". It has an alcohol content of 5.5%–7% and a tart, sour taste.

Most locals drink their apple wine with a dash of sparkling water. Just order a glass by asking for a "Sauergespritzte" or simply a „Sauer“(sour spritz). You can also order a "Süßgespritzte" (sweet spritz), this is apple wine with a dash of Fanta or Sprite though this might earn you some disapproving looks from the waiters and locals.

Legend goes that in the old days ordering Ebbelwoi mixed with something other than water would have you expelled from the very traditional pubs. Today some waiters will serve the apple wine and soda in separate glasses to leave the customer to commit the sacrilege. If you are in a group you can also order a Bembel. This is a clay jug that comes in different sizes and keeps the apple wine cool.

Foodwise, you can try "Handkäs mit Musik", a sour milk cheese, traditionally produced hand ("Handkäs" - hand cheese) topped with chopped onions ("mit Musik" - with music, because the onions are supposed to stimulate flatulence).

Another local speciality is "Grüne Soße" – Green sauce, which is a sauce made with hard-boiled eggs, oil, vinegar, salt and generous amount of seven fresh herbs. Original green sauce Frankfurt-style is made of herbs that were gathered only on fields within the city limits.

A small footnote of history: It is largely not known, that the highest and most advanced skyscraper, a symbol for capitalism par excellence, was built on a former property of a communist party.