Life is hectic, and life in Frankfurt – the commercial heart of Germany – is particularly hectic. So we are suggesting five different places to chill out, from a park to a cemetery, from an art collection to a couple of cafes. Enjoy.
Cafébar im Kunstverein
Right at the entrance point to the new Old Town in a 15th century Gothic building called Steinernes House (stone house), this bohemian café is part of the Frankfurt Art Association and its exhibition spaces. The Association was founded in 1829 to support the arts as well as open up arts and culture to the public with regular shows. It holds its own next to eminent neighbours such as the Schirn or Museum of Modern Art and is to this day an important meeting place for the city’s art scene. Sit here and think about Frankfurt’s strong artistic streak which has always counterbalanced its hard-nosed financial outlook.
A proper oasis of peace just outside the green belt of the city’s Wallanlagen inner perimeter, Bethmann Park was once the private garden of a renowned Frankfurt banker’s dynasty: Bankhaus Gebrüder Bethmann was founded in 1748 as one of Germany’s oldest private banks and the gardens of the Bethmann residence saw famous visitors such as Napoleon or the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. Now the property of the City of Frankfurt, it was opened to the public in 1952 and is a beautifully landscaped space behind thick walls with colourful flowerbeds. An integrated Chinese garden opened in 1990 to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre. Sit among the locals who come to read the paper here and think of how the finance world finds its expression in many ways in this city.
And here’s another example of how much money banks have: DZ Bank has assembled a corporate collection of 7,500 works of art by over 800 international artists, featuring a lot of contemporary photography. The bank’s art foyer is a freely accessible exhibition space showcasing the collection. It opened in 2006 on Platz der Republik, a few minutes’ walk from the main station in one of the tower blocks forming DZ Bank’s head offices. Entering up a wide flight of stairs, you are up on the exhibition level where a bar of seats looks out on the street below. Sit here and use the opportunity to charge your phone at the handy row of sockets while contemplating which piece of art to buy next for your own collection.
It is difficult to escape Goethe, Germany’s greatest literary figure of the modern era, in Frankfurt. The Goethe House is the family residence where he was born in 1749, and is now a place of pilgrimage for people from around the world. Whether you visit it or not, you could take a moment to sit in Café Karin round the corner which is, like the great man himself, a Frankfurt institution (great for breakfast) and think about the writer who has given Faust to the world and, as a poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director and critic, was enormously prolific.
Old Jewish Cemetery
The cemetery is hidden behind a long wall on Battonstraße in the southeastern corner of the centre next to the Judengasse site of Frankfurt’s Jewish Museum. Visitors come here to remember the history of Frankfurt’s 800 year old Jewish community, a community that is now Germany’s biggest after Berlin. As the second oldest preserved Jewish cemetery north of the Alps, some tombstones here date back to 1272. Only a fraction of the 6,000 original graves were saved after the cemetery was destroyed by the Nazis, but wandering beneath the trees and seeing the telltale signs of recent visits, it clearly remains a very poignant place of remembrance. Get the key at the museum’s desk against a deposit (usually your ID). Free of charge entry.