Frankfurt Districts

Altstadt / Old Town

With only roughly half a square kilometer, the Altstadt - the area between the cathedral and the Römer square - is Frankfurt's smallest district and is today only part of what it originally was, namely the larger area which can today be regarded as the city center, the area on the north side of town originally within the city walls and today the Wallanlagen.

 

Allied bombings in 1944 destroyed what was, at the time, Germany's largest medieval city center. Reconstruction generally used pragmatic contemporary architecture, and a few landmark buildings were rebuilt in a simple historical style. 

 

Expected to reach completion in 2016,  a very controversial project - some see it as "Disneyland style" - is underway; the reconstruction of 35 buildings, 8 of which exact replicas of the original, intend to recreate the medieval atmosphere between two of Frankfurt's most important architectural landmarks, the cathedral and the Römer town hall.  

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Bahnhofsviertel / Central Station

Frankfurt's Bahnhofsviertel (train station area) is mainly known for its red-light district and drug scene. The former is today restricted to a very small area in the north-west corner, and the drug scene, as result of a harm-reduction oriented approach, is considerably less visible in the streets.

 

The Bahnhofsviertel with its many 19th century buildings which survived World War II is once again becoming a residential area for more "normal" Frankfurters - it never really lost its charm and multi-cultural life quality for a more bohème and liberal crowd. The wonderful Kaiser Strasse, reminiscent of a Parisian boulevard, runs from the Hauptbahnhof (central railway station) past the old ECB building and the financial district into the shopping center - a mere 15 minutes stroll. 

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Bockenheim

Bockenheim is Frankfurt's third most populated district and one of the oldest, dating back to Roman times. It profits from its proximity to the Messe (trade fair grounds) and the financial quarter.

The quarter is traditionally characterized by student life and the Campus Bockenheim of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe university, despite an eastward move of the university to Westend some years ago. Economic student housing has attracted many foreign workers and families lending the district a very multi-cultured flair. A colorful offer of good price restaurants, bars and shops geared to the local residents can be found along the Leipziger Strasse and the streets off Adalbert Strasse. 

Bockenheim is however also a district of contrasts and cosists of some very diverse parts. The main shopping street Leipziger Strasse displays a very multicultural scene, with several Turkish food stores. Walking towards Sophienstrasse, you will see many typical Frankfurt residential houses like in Nordend or Sachsenhausen, many of them have been fully renovated and modernized in recent years. Passing Sophienstrasse, you will get to the very upscale Diplomatenviertel ("Diplomats' quarter"), neighboring to the Northern part of Grüneburgpark and housing several consulates same as upper class villas and expensive condominiums.

Palmengarten and Grüneburgpark can be found on the border between Bockenheim and Westend, and the renowened Senckenbergmuseum is right next to the university campus.

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Bornheim

Frequently confused with Nordend, also by locals. Bornheim or „Bernem“, as the residents call it, is also known as the „lustige Dorf“ (merry village). In the 19th century, Frankfurters would, on weekends, travel to Bernem to enjoy themselves in the frolicsome cider taverns - many still exits today - and brothels (which no longer exist here...)! Berger Strasse also runs through Bornheim, and one attraction is the Farmer's Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays around the Uhrtürmchen (the little clock tower) - in summer the nearby Günthersburgpark (which officially already belongs to Nordend East) is a meeting point for young and old. Further attractions are the barock half-timbered Rathaus from 1770 and the, first mentioned in 1321, Johanneskirche.

It is historically, like the adjacent Nordend, a workers district which in the last century has experienced significant social changes.

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Innenstadt (City Centre)

The Eschenheimer tower is the last surviving gateway from Frankfurt's medieval fortifications, one of the oldest remaining medieval structure in the city center and point of entry from Westend and Nordend.

The city centre - together with the Altstadt - is an area surrounded by the Wallanlagen, which includes historic buildings, the steel and glass skyscrapers of the financial district and the main shopping area. The Zeil and the more up market Goethe Strasse are situated in the Innenstadt. Great place to enjoy a coffee or a light meal and watch the hustle and bustle of Frankfurt's more elegant society is along the "Fressgass" or on the close by "Opernplatz" (Old Opera square). For a fantastic bird's eye view, of the Innenstadt and a lot more, visit the platform of the 200 meter high Maintower.

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Nordend

Speak these days (October 2014) in town about gentrification, and inevitably the talk is of Nordend. In the late 19th century home to many artisans with backyard workshops and small business owners, it became the centre of a leftist scene in the 70s and is still today a countrywide stronghold of the Green Party.

 

Many of the 70s crowd - now more settled with disposable incomes for which they would shame themselves 40 years earlier - are joined by a younger professional class without disturbing the decades old bohemian and eclectic character of the area. For the vibrant lifestyle - restaurants, cafés, bars in the area - people come from all over the region.

 

The Nordend is divided into a quieter and slower West part and a more hustle and bustle - mainly caused by the Berger Strasse -  East part. With its shady streets, realxed parks and playgrounds and a ten minutes walk to the Zeil it is, not surprisingly, one of Germany's favorite districts for young families with children.

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Ostend

The Ostend - which gate of entry is the city's Zoological Gardens - is a district in radical transformation. In the 19th century already on the east town periphery, and close to harbor and market, a classic working class district, the Ostend has undergone a face change like no other area in town. Accelerator of these developments undoubtedly the move of the ECB to new premises erected on the areal of the former market, but it all started in the early 90s, when industrial lofts were transformed into modern offices for style conscious advertising dudes and furniture warehouses.

 

Today the wide Hanauer Landstrasse - formerly a colourless pin-straight road through factories and junkyards is, with trees and street life, gaining elements of mediterranean city flair. Only remembrance, yet certainly to survive the gentrification, of its proletarian  past is Gref-Völsings a traditional old butcher shop specialized in "Rindswurst" (beef sausage) but also great Bratwurst on Hanauer Landstraße 132.

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Sachsenhausen

"Dribb de Bach" (on the other side of the river) as locals refer to Sachsenhausen in local dialect is, as the name implies, the "house of the Saxons" and comprises the area south of the river Main. According to more reliable theories the name has little to do with Saxons but with "Sassenhusen" the area where "Beisassen" (citizens without full rights) lived. Sachsenhausen is today characterised by two areas, the old historic Sachsenhausen, a tourist attraction and in the 70s and 80s playground for GIs on leave, today regrettably in decay, and the more modern and elegant area around Schweizer Strasse. Sachsenhausen is a very popular residential area for professionals and families alike (like Nordend and Bornheim). Many of Frankfurt's traditional cider taverns - Wagner and Gemalten Haus to name two - are situated in the Sachsenhausen area as are many of Frankfurt's  most renowned museums. The famous flea market is every second Saturday on the river embankment. 

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Westend

The Westend with its turn of the century villas is Frankfurt's Mayfair and undoubtedly the poshest area in town, especially the part north of Bockenheimer Landstrasse. Ironically it is thanks to squatters and student resistance that the district maintains its historic elegant flair - the proximity to the center and the financial district made it haven for property speculators in the 70's and early 80's who had other ideas with the Wilhelminian style mansions along Bockenheimer Landstrasse and the rest of the quarter. Primarily a residential area, but many upper scale legal offices or advertising agencies have found a representative parterre to print on their business cards and go about their business. In the southern part, Westend also borders to the financial district and the Messe area.

 

Westend is home to some of Frankfurt's top restaurants, the one and only Jimmy's Bar  and to a small colorful mix of exclusive shops and boutiques. The vast  Grünerburgpark is perfect for jogging, kicking with buddies on weekends or just for a relaxed stroll. The adjacent botanical garten Palmengarten with its exquisite flora is one of the city's top  sightseeing objects.

 

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