Planning your flight from the U.S. to Europe normally consists of finding the quickest and least expensive schedules. Preferring a nonstop flight especially if departing from the west coast is tops on the list. But could there be more to having a layover than meets the eye? On a recent trip I decided to try something different by including a long layover in Frankfurt before going on to our destination.
How many times have I flown through the Frankfurt Airport but never seen the city? That was the major question that came to mind while making the decision take time to see what is in Frankfurt.
The very modern Frankfurt Airport. This covered walkway is just outside Terminal 1 that leads to the Hilton Hotel.
Arriving into Frankfurt at 8:00am it took about 20 minutes to get our luggage and go through customs. Not too bad! As you walk out of customs into the airport waiting room, there is a luggage storage area is just to the right. We paid €7 for the day and felt secure that it would be safe there.
We tend to be more independent travelers and like to go at our own pace so our decision was made to see Frankfurt on our own. If you prefer to have a personal tour before you leave home you can book tour guides online. If you didn’t think about booking one before your trip you still have the opportunity to pick one up at the airport. Find your way to the Information Desk at either Terminal 1 or 2, the rates start at approximately €30. One more option on how to see Frankfurt is purchasing they Frankfurt Card Its a good deal, at €9,90. The Frankfurt Card offers unlimited transportation in the city and airport, 50% discount at 28 Museums, the Frankfurt Zoo, and Botanical Gardens. It also includes a free local tour, and of course restaurant and shopping discounts. Again you can pick these up at the Airport Information booth.
We picked up the card then took the metro into Frankfurt to visit Römerberg or Römer for short. The ride from the airport takes about 30 minutes. Getting off at the third stop Römer-Paulskirche we took the short walk to Römer.
Along the way you will pass by Paulskirche or St. Paul’s Church originally a Lutheran church built in 1789 it became the seat of the Frankfurt Parliament in the mid 1800’s. Now its used for local events and tourist sightseeing. They did a great job of reconstructing the building after it was destroyed in World War II. Its not your typical European church with ceiling frescos and Baroque decor, in fact its rather plain. That doesn’t mean its completely boring, the domed tall domed ceiling is of interest and worth a look. The large wall mural on the first floor depicts “Democratic freedom and National unity” was by Berlin painter Johannes Grützke. It shows the various stages of the development of Germanys political system and some on the gruesome side.
Just across the street from Paulskirche is the Römer Rathaus. On a good day the upper patio is filled with vibrant geraniums while little statued men and gargoyles hold up the planters. The Ratskeller Restaurant just inside is busy but while there you must go in and take a look at the inside.and has a very ornate rounded vaulted ceiling with thick round pillars holding it up.
On the other side of the Ratskeller is the historic village of Römer. a traditional half timbered village in the middle of a very modern city. Its cute as can be, one side traditional half timbered buildings then across the square is a tiered three gabled building known as the Rathaus.
The Rathaus or City Hall is the most photographed sight in Frankfurt with a 600 year history. The Römers were a merchant family who owned the building then sold it to the city council in 1405 to become the political power. Now the building is used mostly for events and weddings.
Inside are a couple of interesting rooms you can view if they are open. The Emperor’s Hall is a historic walk through the portraits of 52 German Emperors beginning with Charlemagne inset into the wall with pointed roman arches. This is also where the coronation of ruling emperors was held. The Römerhalle and Schwanenhalle have not changed for over 600 years due to being built below ground. The rooms virtually untouched even though the rest of the town was destroyed during WWII.
The Old Nicholas Church located in the square was one of the only buildings that only had slight damage from WWII. Inside are a few stained glass windows that actually survived the war. The outside is small but cute.
Give yourself at about an hour to explore the old town of Römer its well worth the time, then head over to the Main River to visit one of 20 museums. Along the river is a large bike path lined with restaurants and tour kiosks. People seen to enjoy meandering and congregating along the waterside. But our mission was to see at least one museum in our short visit.
After quick deliberations we decided to visit the Städel Museum, it includes some of the most influential art in Germany. As a Gothic-Baroqueafile I could hardly miss this one. The Master’s collection was delightful with art by Picasso, Rafael, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Monet and other various artists. For contemporary enthusiasts there are many pieces you will enjoy along with a nice photography exhibit. A favorite is the Garden of Eden that depicts baby Jesus, a golden crowned Mary, disciples working in the garden and the Archangel Michael looking rather bored after slaying a dragon.
The Garden of Eden. Mary is reading a biblical book, Jesus is strumming the mandolin and you can see Michael the Archangel is the one with wings.
We actually took a little more time than we thought so it was time to head back to the airport so we had plenty of time to get our bags and go through customs. You never know if its going to be a zoo.
One quick note about this area of Römer, as a shopping fanatic you don’t want to miss. MyZeil is a pedestrian only shopping mall that has a futuristic glass and metal entry. Its nothing like you have ever seen before. It looks like a black hole that is ready to pull you in to a new dimension. To tell the truth I just wanted to admire this architecture like we did with the art in the Städel Museum. Inside has six floors of stores, restaurants, a fitness center and a cinema. If you have the time stop by and take a look.
So, what did we think of our 10 hour layover in Frankfurt?
It was perfect. Would we do this again? Well maybe not in Frankfurt since we have seen it but another destination, you bet! It was a wonderful addition to our trip.