Frankfurt - A City Of Contrasts
Frankfurt’s famed skyline features more skyscrapers than any other German city. Frankfurt’s skyline is ever-changing – the newest skyscrapers are already under construction and many more are in the design stages. One of the most notable attractions is the Main Tower and one of the first skyscrapers open to the general public and Commerzbank skyscraper which, at 259 metres (not counting the 40-metre antenna) is Europe’s tallest office high-rise
As the home of continental Europe’s largest airport (renamed Fraport AG after listing on the stock exchange in 2001), biggest passenger train station and a major overland traffic hub, Frankfurt is easily reached from within Germany and further afield.
Sightseeing in Frankfurt
Frankfurt may have an ultra-modern atmosphere, but it has many historic attractions too. Römerberg marks the historic centre of the city, while Paulskirche and the Frankfurter Dom – both nearby – are the two most distinctive churches in Frankfurt. A walk over the historic Iron Bridge is essential as well. This river crossing is over 100 years old and is a key link between the north and south of the city.
Cultural things to do in Frankfurt
Visit the Alte Oper (Old Opera) for a glimpse at this elegant Renaissance opera building. Spend a day at the Museumsufer – a district that is home to many Frankfurt museums – and discover a diversity of displays, from the interactive German Film Museum to the Jewish Museum. The Museum of Modern Art is an essential attraction in Frankfurt too, showcasing iconic works by 20th century artists like Andy Warhol.
Culture and Events
●… Berlin is one of the few cities that has three UNESCO World Heritage sites. In addition to the famous Museum Island and the Prussian palaces and gardens, the Berlin Modernist housing estates are also among them. Furthermore, the German capital has also been bestowed the title of UNESCO City of Design and is thus included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
●… Berlin is the only city in the world that has three opera houses holding performances. The Deutsche Oper, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and the Komische Oper offer more than 4,400 seats to their audiences. Berlin also has more than 150 theatres and live show stages catering to all genres.
●… Berlin is the only European city that has more museums than rainy days.On average there are 99 rainy days a year, and there are around 175 museums.
●… the Gemäldegalerie (portrait gallery) at the Kulturforum, which opened in 1998, unites the collections of the Bode Museum (in the former East) and the Gemäldegalerie in Dahlem (in the former West) that were separated when the city was divided.
●… Berlin with its roughly 300 galleries for classical modernism and contemporary art has the largest gallery scene in Europe.
●. … the world’s largest universal museum is being built on the Museum Island in the centre of Berlin.The Old National Gallery, the Bode Museum, the Old Museum and the New Museum with the world-famous bust of Nefertiti have already been renovated. The new James Simon Galerie connects four of the five buildings on the Museum Island. The north wing and the central section of the Pergamon museum are currently being modernised. Work is scheduled to be completed in 2023, after which the south wing will be renovated and the museum will be given a new fourth wing connecting the north and south wings.
●… the Jewish Museum has attracted around 12.1 million visitors annually to its exhibitions since opening on 13 September 2001? The building was designed by Daniel Libeskind and its shape is reminiscent of a destroyed Star of David. It is one of the most important examples of contemporary architecture.
●… in addition to the world famous collections, Berlin also has more unusual museums such as the Lippenstift Museum (lipstick museum), the Schwules Museum (gay museum), the Hanf Museum (hemp museum) and Urban Nation, the museum for urban contemporary art.
●… the largest Chinese garden in Europe is situated in Berlin. It is part of Marzahn’s leisure park and has an ensemble of ten ‘gardens of the world’. Visitors can take part in a tea ceremony in the Japanese garden. There are also Balinese, Korean and Middle Eastern gardens as well as an Italian Renaissance garden, shrub garden, Christian garden, English landscape garden and a maze. The 11th large theme garden is currently being created with a Jewish Garden. The opening is planned for 2021.
●… Berlin’s landmarks – such as the TV tower, the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Cathedral, the Victory Column and many other buildings – appear in a completely different light once a year? At the annual Berlin Illuminated and Festival of Lights events held in October, they are transformed into huge projection surfaces for original light installations. And how could it be otherwise: both events are of course among the largest light festivals in the world.
●… the Berlinale, one of the most popular film festivals in Europe, will already be 71 years old in 2021. As one of the top media events for the film industry, it attracts over 21,000 industry visitors and journalists from almost 130 countries each year. Berlin distinguishes itself from other film festivals by the large participation of the general public. Some 100,000 film lovers from Germany and abroad purchased 330,000 cinema tickets in 2020 (this does not include industry visitors).
Life in Berlin
●… the city had its highest number of residents in 1942. At that time 4,478,102 people lived in Berlin. Today there are more than 3.7 million.
●… for the 2019/20 winter semester a total of around 193,000 students are enrolled at the four universities, four universities of applied sciences and 30 private higher education institutions in Berlin.
●… Berlin is the most multicultural city in Germany. Of the approximately 3.7 million residents, 812,705 possess a foreign passport. People from 190 countries live in the city, of them around 71,000 are Polish and 106,000 are Turkish citizens.
●… there are more than 100 vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants in Berlin.Exclusively animal-free products and foods are also available in cafés, ice cream parlours supermarkets, butchers and even a vegan sex shop.
●… the Berlin dialect was particularly influenced by the Huguenots from the late 17th century. Some words have French origins: Budike (pub or shop), Boulette (meatball), Roulade (rolled cuts of meat) and Destille (pub). But other linguistic influences have left audible traces, such as from Hebrew (via Yiddish), in expressions such as Malochen (hard work), Schlamassel (misfortune) and Moos (money).
●… Berliners are devoted dog lovers. More than 107,700 dogs were registered in the city at the end of 2018. .
More Fun Facts
●… the feet of the “Goldelse” on the top of the victory column are 92 cm long. Converted this would correspond to shoe size 138!
●…there are over 250 weekly markets spread out across Berlin’s urban area. The Turkish Market on Neukölln’s Maybachufer is especially popular. Every Tuesday and Friday it offers an eclectic assortment of fruit and vegetables, Turkish specialities and colourful fabrics. On Saturdays, many market goers are drawn to Winterfeldtplatz in Schöneberg and Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg. The products on offer range from organic produce and specialities from many countries, to felt shoes, handicrafts and natural cosmetics.
●… the international SOS emergency signal was agreed on at the World Radiocommunication Conference in Berlin in 1906.
●… the Berlin football club Hertha BSC, which was founded in 1892, was named after a pleasure boat that one of the co-founders took a trip on with his father.
●… the quadriga chariot on top of the Brandenburg Gate was stolen by Napoleon and taken to France in 1806. He transported the Berlin landmark there as a symbol of his victory over Prussia in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. It was brought back to Berlin after the victory of the European allies over Napoleon in 1814. Since then the quadriga has been nicknamed the tit-for-tat carriage. Despite rumours to the contrary, the quadriga has always pointed eastwards – towards the old city of Berlin.
●… Berlin is an in demand scenery for international films and series.”Babylon Berlin” was shot here, as was the fifth season of the US hit series “Homeland” and blockbusters such as “Inglourious Basterds” and “The First Avenger: Civil War”. A particularly popular film location was Peacock Island. It was the scenery for six Edgar Wallace films, including “Neues vom Hexer” and “Der Mönch mit der Weitsche”.
●… many names in the city have their origins in the days of Prussian kings and the House of Hohenzollern, for who only a few first names were in fashion over the last 300 years. These include Friedrichstadt and Friedrichstraße, Friedrichstadt-Palast and Friedrichswerder, Friedrichshain, Friedrichsfelde, Friedrichshagen, Wilhelmstraße and Wilhelmshagen.
●… the longest street in the city is the Adlergestell which stretches 11.9 kilometres from Adlershof to Schmöckwitz. And the shortest lane is the Eiergasse in the Nikolai quarter, which is only 16 metres long. The widest is not Breite Straße as the name ‘wide street’ suggests, but rather Straße des 17. Juni, which is 85.2 metres wide.
●… in the olden days, Berlin already ended at the Brandenburg Gate.The historical city border can still be recognised in the street names, such as Wallstraße, Mauerstraße, Linienstraße and Palisadenstraße. The former city gates are now predominantly preserved in the form of underground station names – Schlesisches, Kottbusser, Hallesches and Oranienburger Tor.
●… Berlin’s second highest elevation, the 120 metre-high Teufelsberg, consists of rubble. After the war, 26 million cubic metres of rubble were heaped here.
●… Berlin has the approximately the same width of London and the same length of Naples in Italy.
●… nine American presidents have visited Berlin since WWII? John F. Kennedy’s utterance “Ich bin ein Berliner” (“I am a Berliner”, 1963) and Ronald Reagan’s emphatic exclamation “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (1987) are unforgettable.
●… visitors from West Berlin had to change at least 25 Deutsche Marks per day into East German Marks at an exchange rate of 1:1 when they visited the Eastern part of the city during the era of the Berlin Wall. Money not spent could not be exchanged back again. It could however be deposited at the border branch of the GDR state bank and withdrawn at the next visit. A visa cost five Deutsche Marks for tourists from West Germany, for West Berliners it was free of charge.
●…the first traffic lights in Europe were put into operation at Potsdamer Platz in 1924. A replica of the traffic light tower can still be admired there today.
●… with an area of 892 square kilometres Berlin is almost nine times larger than Paris.
●… four Germans set a Guinness World Record in November 2014. They travelled to all 173 Berlin underground stations in just 7 hours, 33 minutes and 15 seconds.
Located in Germany’s southwest region, Stuttgart is the capital of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, the largest city in that state, and the sixth largest city in Germany (pop. 609,219; 2.7 million in the greater region). Although Stuttgart is an industrial and commercial powerhouse (Bosch, Daimler/Mercedes-Benz, Dinkelacker, Porsche), it is still a scenic, very livable city, spread out over rolling hillsides and the Neckar river valley. Many observers call it a big-time city with a small-town feel.
Some Stuttgart History
Human settlements are known to have been located in the region as early as 90 C.E. The Stuttgart we know now was founded in the 10th century by Duke Liudolf of Swabia (Herzog Liudolf von Schwaben). The duke’s stud farm (Stuotgarte/”horse garden” in Middle High German) gave the city its name. That and the local cultivation of grapes, which has been documented as far back as 1108, kept people in the area until the major expansion of the House of Württemberg from 1219 onwards. In that year the settlement near the stud farm came into the possession of the Margrave of Baden, and Hermann V of Baden gave it the status of “Stadt” (town, city). In 1495 Stuttgart became a ducal residence city.
Like most of Germany’s larger cities, Stuttgart suffered significant damage during World War II. As a commemoration of the city’s people who died during the war, the rubble was transported to the Birkenkopf (a hill in the city center) increasing the height by around 40 meters. A plaque atop the recognizable chunks of buildings reads: “Dieser Berg nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg aufgetürmt aus den Trümmern der Stadt steht den Opfern zum Gedächtnis den Lebenden zur Mahnung.” (English: This mountain, piled up after World War II from the rubble of the city, stands as a memorial to the victims and a warning to the living.) From the summit the view extends over the whole city, and on a clear day you can even spot the Schwarzwald (Black Forest).
Stuttgart can be easily reached by air, rail, or car. If you’re driving, be prepared for traffic congestion as you approach the city, and stop-and-go traffic in the urban area. You may want to leave your car at your hotel and use the city’s excellent public transport system.
Stuttgart is served by Stuttgart Airport (Flughafen Stuttgart, IATA airport code STR), an international airport approximately 13 km (8 mi) south of the city center on land belonging mainly to neighboring towns. It takes about 30 minutes to travel between the airport and the city center using S-Bahn lines S2 or S3. Stuttgart airport is Germany’s only international airport with a single runway. Despite protests and local initiatives, surveys are currently underway to assess the impact of a second runway.
Stuttgart is now infamous for its “Stuttgart 21” railway station renovation and urban development project, which has run over budget and past its original deadline. Somewhat like Berlin’s notorious BER airport, the rail project that began in 2010 was originally scheduled to be completed in 2019, but the remodeled station is now projected to start operating in 2025 and run approximately 2 billion euros over the original budget. But travelers arriving at or departing from Stuttgart’s classic Hauptbahnhof (Central Rail Station) should experience little inconvenience. (See station photo above.)
As with most cities, it is best to avoid the roads during rush hours. The autobahns that serve Stuttgart, the A8 and A81, are frequently congested. Other routes out of the city include the B10 (for Esslingen) the B14 (for the Mercedes-Benz Museum, Böblingen) and the B27 (for Tübingen to the south and Ludwigsburg to the north). The almost continuous road construction in the city can mean that GPS (sat-nav) is sometimes less than useful.
Scenic Sights and Attractions (City Center)
Starting from north of the city center at the Hauptbahnhof (Central Train Station), the pedestrian/shopping boulevard known as Königstraße (King Street) extends southwestward for 1.2 kilometers (just under a mile). At about the halfway mark you’ll discover one of the city’s most popular landmarks, the Schlossplatz (Palace Square) with its lawns and fountains.
Walking down Königstraße into the heart of the city, it is hard to visit one of these central attractions and not trip over the others. The Altes Schloss (old palace) now houses the Landesmuseum and retains many of its original architectural features, including the galleried courtyard which hosts a huge tree and carol concerts at Christmas. The Neues Schloss (new palace) is predominantly used for governmental business, but tours can be made by special arrangement. The Schlossplatz is seen on almost every Stuttgart postcard. The expanse of green can rarely be seen in the summer under the weight of sunbathers and picnic blankets. Music events hosted at the Neues Schloss can also be heard from the Schlossplatz, so if you don’t have a ticket for the latest sold-out event, you could simply relax on the grass and listen free of charge. The Theater and Oper (opera) stand side-by-side and overlook the Eckensee (lake) and Oberer Schlossgarten (park). Guided tours of both buildings are available a few times a year.
The Württemberg State Museum, located within the Altes Schloss, is devoted to the history, culture, folklore and architecture of the state, all recorded in the permanent collections, while other collections change frequently. The children’s museum is also housed here, and children under four get free entry. TIP: Should you find yourself in Stuttgart during a heat wave, you can access the museum for free, look out for the “Hitzefrei” (heatwave day) signs when temperatures exceed 25° Celsius (77°F).