Old Town Walk (Self Guided), Frankfurt

Frankfurt’s downtown, which is also the city's “Old Town”, is an ideal area to discover on foot. Though it was partially destroyed during World War II, it was nearly fully reconstructed in the years since, saving many of the original buildings. After you visit Old Town Frankfurt, you will walk away with a new appreciation of old churches, museums, squares, and shops.
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Old Town Walk Map

Guide Name: Old Town Walk
Guide Location: Germany » Frankfurt (See other walking tours in Frankfurt)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: helenp
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • SCHIRN Art Gallery
  • Römerberg
  • Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church)
  • Goethe-Haus
  • Carmelite Monastery (Karmeliterkloster)
  • St. Leonhard Church
  • Eiserner Steg (Iron footbridge)
  • Customs Tower (Rententurm)
  • Haus Wertheim
  • Historisches Museum (Historical Museum)
  • St. Nicolai Church (Nikolaikirche)
  • Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomäus
  • The Museum of Modern Art (Museum für Moderne Kunst)
  • Hauptwache
  • Zeil
1
SCHIRN Art Gallery

1) SCHIRN Art Gallery (must see)

One of the world’s most famous venues for exhibiting artwork, the SCHIRN Kunsthalle in Frankfurt opened its doors in 1986. The exhibition space lies next to the Frankfurt Cathedral and the Romerberg Plaza and has constantly changing shows of contemporary art.

"Schirn" in German means an open-air stall. The venue had stalls selling a range of products until the 19th century. The area suffered damage in WWII and remained undeveloped until the opening of the SCHIRN Kunsthalle. The hall overlooks a carefully preserved Roman ruin that has a unique ancient central heating system called Hypocaust. The building was designed and constructed by the architectural firm Bangert, Jansen, Scholz and Schultes. The gallery has over 2000 square meters of exhibition space.

Since 1986, the art gallery has hosted over 180 exhibitions. Some well-known programs were Viennese Art Nouveau exhibitions, Expressionism, Dadaism, Surrealism, the History of Photography, the Art of the Stalin Era and New Romanticism. Works featured at the hall include those of great masters like Frida Kahlo, Vassily Kandinsky, Bill Viola, and Arnold Schonberg.

Guided tours are available beginning at the foyer of SCHIRN, including special children’s tours and foreign language tours. The exhibition hall also has an award-winning cafe serving dishes made of organic local produce.

Why You Should Visit:
Housed in a dedicated modernist museum, this art gallery is always a joy to visit.
The calendar of events & shows is always exciting and becomes very busy in the summer.
There are usually two shows on at any one time and "installations" in the rotunda outside.
The children's gallery is very popular and staff will occupy the youth while you visit the exhibitions.

Tip:
Check out current/upcoming exhibitions!

Opening Hours:
Tue, Fri-Sun: 10am-7pm; Wed, Thu: 10am-10pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Römerberg

2) Römerberg

Römerberg (lit., "Roman Mountain") is a public space in Frankfurt, Germany. It is located in front of the Römer building complex, seat of the Frankfurt city administration since the 15th century. As the site of numerous Imperial coronations, trade fairs and Christmas markets, the square is the historic heart of the medieval Altstadt (old town) and today a popular tourist destination.

Paulsplatz, another historic square, is to the north. The Old St Nicholas Church and Historical Museum are to the south. Beyond that is Mainkai on the River Main. On the west side of the square is the reconstructed Römer medieval building. To the east is the Dom-Römer Project and beyond that is Frankfurt Cathedral.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church)

3) Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church) (must see)

The elliptical-shaped St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is located near the Zeil shopping area of Frankfurt. The building is significant not only for its architecture but the role it played in shaping German democracy in 1848.

Paulskirsche was built as a protestant Evangelical Lutheran church in an oval neoclassical style with red sandstone exterior walls between 1789 and 1833. Meetings were held in the church because of its rounded shape. In 1848, elected representatives from Germany and Austria met in the hall to draft a Charter of Basic Rights and a Constitution to unify Germany on the basis of popular self-determination. The attempt subsequently failed and the structure was used for church services again. Paulskirsche suffered extensive damage during WWII bombings. After the war, its exteriors were painstakingly restored and the interiors were simplified and modernized. The building is now used for exhibitions and meetings. The hall on the first floor is used for municipal and city functions. The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the Goethe prize by the city of Frankfurt are awarded at this historic setting.

The striking feature of the building is a modern mural that encircles the interior wall showing the procession of the people’s representatives into Paulskrische that stands today as the symbol of German democracy.

Why You Should Visit:
Free entry, with a wealth of information in English covering the German democratic process.

Tip:
Pop in for the excellent art exhibition in the basement (pieces are for sale but are on the expensive side).
Upstairs you can visit the room in which JFK gave his brief speech in 1963.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Goethe-Haus

4) Goethe-Haus (must see)

Grosser Hirschgraben 23 in Frankfurt is the location of the house where writer philosopher Wolfgang Von Goethe was born and raised. The house was destroyed during the 2nd World War but was reconstructed by the citizens with loving care and restored to its 17th-century splendor in memory of Frankfurt’s best-known son.

Goethe house was opened to the public in 1863 and has remained a shrine for Goethe enthusiasts from all over the world. The house reflects the lifestyle enjoyed by affluent 17th century Germans. It is decorated with different art forms like baroque, neoclassical and rococo. Among the rooms painstakingly restored after the war are the library where Wolfgang Goethe’s father worked and looked out for the return of his son and the portrayal of an authentic 17th century German Kitchen. The puppet theater that Goethe treasured enough to make the focal point of his novel 'Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship' is also on view. One of the treasures in the house is a large classic clock on the 2nd floor that tells the time, date, lunar and solar year. The building houses Goethe’s father’s vast collection of art including paintings by well known Frankfurt artists. The adjacent Frankfurter Goethe Museum contains books, works of art and manuscripts all related in some way to Goethe.

Goethe House is open through the week and is free for children under 6 years of age. Visitors can request the help of volunteers to understand the significance of every Goethe related object on display in the building.

Why You Should Visit:
More than you'd normally expect; apart from the house itself (completely nice to see), you can visit a gallery (up the staircase) that is no smaller than some art museums you'd want to pay much to visit. Great value!

Tip:
Good to either take the audio guide or make sure to grab a pamphlet at the entrance with the relevant language.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am–6pm; Sun: 10am–5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Carmelite Monastery (Karmeliterkloster)

5) Carmelite Monastery (Karmeliterkloster)

The ancient Carmelite Monastery, Karmeliterkloster is located on the Karmelitengrasse in Frankfurt. The old structure houses the Archeological Museum, the Institute for Municipal History with the city’s municipal archives and a theatre in the cellar called Die Schmiere or The Grease where satirical plays are staged.

The Carmelite monastery in Frankfurt has a gothic architectural style and was built between 1460 and 1520. It is a single vessel church to which the Carmelites added a chapel and a 2 aisle refectory hall. The hall is covered with Northern Europe’s largest frescoes including a painting of the history of the Carmelite order and a 16th century depiction of Christ’s birth and death by artist Jorg Ratgeb. The artist was later cruelly executed for taking part in the German peasant’s revolution of 1525. After the secularization of the city in 1803, the building became the possession of the city. Over the years the structure served as a warehouse, garrison, fire department and a theatre. It was almost completely destroyed during World War II and the frescoes were badly damaged. The building was finally refurbished between 1987 and 1989.

Visitors to the archeological museum can find many objects from the Stone Age and the Roman civilization and objects and jewelry from Frankish and Alemanic graves.
6
St. Leonhard Church

6) St. Leonhard Church

Founded in 1219, this Roman Catholic parish church, located in the heart of Frankfurt, offers an English liturgy to an international congregation. The church has six heavy bells that peal and resonate across the city and one of the best stained glass windows in Hesse.

The St. Leonhard’s church was first dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. George under a decree by Emperor Freidrich II in 1219. The first building had a Romanesque design and the original portals still remain. In 1323, the parish officials obtained a relic of St. Leonhard and the church adopted St. Leonhard as its patron saint. Between the 1400s and 1500s, gothic style structures were added to the building including the five aisles. The structure served other purposes through the years including as a warehouse for the nearby Book Fair and in the 1700s, as a place to store ammunition. In the 1800s donations by a wealthy parishioner Von Dalberg and purchases made by the then pastor Father Muenzenberger gave the church its ornate altarpieces and sculpted figures that survive till today. In the 1900s the floor of St. Leonhard’s Church was raised to prevent flooding by the River Main.

St. Leonhard’s remains a thriving international catholic parish with a congregation composed of people from over 50 countries coming to mass every week.
7
Eiserner Steg (Iron footbridge)

7) Eiserner Steg (Iron footbridge) (must see)

Eiserner Steg is a well-known place among the locals, who enjoy walking over this one hundred years old iron bridge. Better known as the Love Lock Bridge, as you will see tons of locks not only "locked forever" onto it, but also in such a way that they are interlinked with each other to result in almost a huge "chain link of love". That aside, it is a wonderful place to admire the Main river and get great panoramic views of German architecture and the Römer.

Tip:
If you're into photography, come here at sunset and you'll be able to take very nice pics of Frankfurt's skyline (but be prepared for a crowd).
8
Customs Tower (Rententurm)

8) Customs Tower (Rententurm)

You can easily observe the Customs Tower when you exit the Romerberg and head to the Main River. This important construction was built in 1456. Customs Tower has a compelling history, given to the fact that it was founded on the ruins of a castle previously inhabited by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and Karl the Great.
9
Haus Wertheim

9) Haus Wertheim

Haus Wertheim was built in the 1600s and is situated between Romerplatz and Main river. It is the only half-timbered construction that wasn't destroyed during World War II. The building is very popular among tourists due to its Renaissance architecture and favorable position.
10
Historisches Museum (Historical Museum)

10) Historisches Museum (Historical Museum) (must see)

Historisches Museum Frankfurt (HMF) portrays the momentous events that shaped the city from the early medieval times to the present. It has several valuable permanent treasures and exhibits and plays host to themed temporary history-related exhibitions.

The HMF is housed in a 12th-century Romanesque Palace called the Salhoff. The museum complex covers five historical buildings and a modern structure. Visitors are greeted by a portrait of Charlemagne placed at the front. Permanent exhibits are arranged in chronological order taking visitors through the early medieval times when Frankfurt was a city-state, the late middle ages, the 16th to the 18th centuries, the 19th century and the city between 1866 to 2001.

Treasures at the museum include the St. Anne altarpiece from a Carmelite church, the Heller altarpiece by Albrecht Durer from a Dominican cloister and a sculpture depicting the reconciliation of Emperor Otto I with his brother Heinrich by Alfred Rathel. Major attractions at the museum are three scale models of the city made by the Treuner brothers, one showing medieval Frankfurt, the other showing the city after the 1944 bombardment, and a third modern postwar model of Frankfurt.

The Historisches Museum also has an interactive space for children, a large collection of porcelain and a unique museum dedicated to comic books.

Why You Should Visit:
All exhibits have descriptions in German & English and the interactive digital info is state of the art.
Sharp new connecting buildings link are a joy to be in; naturally, there is an awesome cafe with both inside & outside seating.
The museum marries old and new in its build and proves Frankfurt's importance as an international cultural hub.

Tip:
Allow plenty of time if you're a first-time visitor, as the layout of the place can sometimes get confusing.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Thu, Fri: 10am-6pm; Wed: 10am-9pm; Sat, Sun: 11am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
St. Nicolai Church (Nikolaikirche)

11) St. Nicolai Church (Nikolaikirche)

The St. Nikolai Church was the chapel used by the imperial court from 1290 to the 14th century. The building is located near the Romerberg Square in Frankfurt.

The St. Nikolai church was dedicated to St. Nikolai of Bari the patron saint of boatmen. The style of architecture is early Gothic. In the 15th century a tower with a leveled roof and balcony were added to the existing structure. The church has a double aisle hall with a high Gothic choir. A watchman sat in the steeple of the church and sounded a bugle when boats or ships went up and down the Main River. The bugle was also sounded when fires were sighted like the modern day fire alarm. The church has three bells and a carillon with 47 bells. The balcony at the top served as a viewing gallery for aristocrats when passion plays and other events took place in the Plaza below.

The acoustics in the church is well known among German and international visitors. Organ concerts, hand bells, trumpets, choirs and brass bands are hosted through the year at the building. Visitors can also climb the spiral stairway to the gallery for a spectacular view of the Romerberg Plaza.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomäus

12) Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomäus (must see)

This 13th-century church is the site of the coronation of German kings and Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries. This event has earned the building the name Kaiserdom. The cathedral is the largest church in Frankfurt and lies on the banks on the River Main.

The present cathedral is the fifth church on the same site. The early church was constructed over a 7th-century Merovingian chapel in 1250. The church was subsequently adorned with architectural ornamentation and became the splendid architectural wonder it is today. Emperor Charles IV decreed by his Golden Bull that all German Kings would be crowned in the Kaiserdom from 1356 and from 1562 all emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were also crowned at the cathedral.

The church has many splendid works of art including a unique high altar and the Maria Schlaf altar located in St. Mary’s chapel. A Gothic tower was added in the 15th century. It has an Anthony Van Dyke Painting, ‘The Lamentation’, and a museum with many historic pieces including objects discovered in a grave of a Merovingian girl.

Why You Should Visit:
Admission is free and you can sometimes enjoy classical works on an impressive organ or take in panoramic views of Frankfurt by climbing to the top of the Cathedral's tower (for a small fee).

Tip:
Try and go on a weekday to avoid weekend crowd, and take a bottle of water on your climb up the tower.

Opening Hours:
[Church] Mon-Thu, Sat: 9am-12pm / 1:15-8pm, Fri: 1:15-8pm; Sun: 1-8pm
[Tower] Daily: 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct), 10am-5pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
The Museum of Modern Art (Museum für Moderne Kunst)

13) The Museum of Modern Art (Museum für Moderne Kunst)

The Museum of Modern Art (MMK) in Frankfurt am Main was founded in 1981 and opened in June 1991. The building is known for its idiosyncratic architecture, which follows a triangular shape, also called "pie". It came from the Viennese architect Hans Hollein.
14
Hauptwache

14) Hauptwache (must see)

The Hauptwache building lies at one end of the Zeil and adds old-world architectural charm to this busy part of Frankfurt. The Haauptwache square on which the building stands is surrounded by high rise modern buildings with the exception of the Hauptwache. The structure lies above the suburban train station and is a major intersection for the S Bahn and U Bahn trains.

The Hauptwache was designed by German master builder, Johann Samhammer. The building has a red sandstone baroque style exterior and a hipped Gothic style triangular roof with three chimneys. The original purpose of the structure when it was built in 1729 was to serve as a prison and military headquarters. At the time Frankfurt was an independent city-state. The Hauptwache played its role in Frankfurt’s history when it was stormed by student activists in a failed attempt at freeing political prisoners in 1733 called the Frankfurter Wachenstrum. The building then served as a police station. In 1904 it became a cafe that serves diners till today. Visitors, commuters and shoppers can enjoy a light refreshing meal at the Hauptwache with its quaint ambiance reminiscent of a momentous past.

Tip:
If the weather permits, sit down and have a glass of beer, glühwein, or Frankfurter apple wine outside the Hauptwache.
If you're even luckier, there will be an apple wine festival when you arrive; then you could mingle with local professionals, wine-lovers and travelers alike.
Sight description based on wikipedia
15
Zeil

15) Zeil (must see)

Once the center for large scale cattle trading, this old and busy shopping lane extends from the Konstablerwache Plaza to the Hauptwache Plaza in Frankfurt. The Zeil is a shoppers’ paradise where visitors with varied budgets can find a range of products from mid-priced supermarket fare to high-end brands.

The Zeil has been Frankfurt’s retail hub since the 14th century. The name Zeil comes from the German 'Zeile' that means row. At first, it meant a row of residential houses that later became the city’s popular marketplace. Before World War II the street had many grand buildings that were destroyed and subsequently restored.

Among the three major buildings located on the Zeil is the Zeilgalerie, a ten-storey shopping center with a unique spiral design (there are many music and electronic stores and restaurants in the building). Modern architecture and baroque are blended in another shopping center called the PalaisQuartier, which has a spectacular vortex-like glass façade, glass columns and irregularly shaped ramps. Finally – the 12-storey Beehive House, a commercial and office building which is also one of the Frankfurt’s early skyscrapers – is also located on the Zeil.

Visitors will enjoy the unique shopping experience offered by the shops at the Zeil. Products available include luxury items, designer brands, handicrafts, clothes designed by young Frankfurt designers, outlets of all major German retail chains and produce from the Frankfurt area.

Why You Should Visit:
Could be referred to as an "outdoor shopping mall", but it is so much more than that; it's the perfect place to acclimate to Europe if you arrive in Frankfurt, fun to shop, eat and explore while admiring its architecture. You don't need to worry about cars to cross the street – that's a bonus.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Frankfurt, Germany

Create Your Own Walk in Frankfurt

Create Your Own Walk in Frankfurt

Creating your own self-guided walk in Frankfurt is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Downtown Churches of Frankfurt

Downtown Churches of Frankfurt

Frankfurt is home to a wide range of religious sites and places of worship. Religious or not, everyone is likely to be impressed by the huge cathedrals, small chapels and humble cloisters this city offers. We invite you to take this walking tour of Frankfurt's downtown and visit some of the most formidable churches in town.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
East Innenstadt Sights

East Innenstadt Sights

The Innenstadt (Inner city) is the central city district of Frankfurt am Main and is home to Germany's most expensive shopping streets and real estate. It is home to The Zeil - Frankfurt's most famous street, beautiful churches and modern skyscrapers, trendy restaurants, night clubs, and much more. Take this tour to experience the history and glamor of today's Frankfurt.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
West Innenstadt Sights

West Innenstadt Sights

The Innenstadt (Inner city) is the central city district of Frankfurt am Main. Germany's most expensive shopping streets and real estate are found within Frankfurt's Innenstadt. It is home to The Zeil - Frankfurt's most famous street, beautiful churches and modern skyscrapers, trendy restaurants, night clubs, and much more. Take this tour to experience the history and glamor of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Bahnhofsviertel Sights

Bahnhofsviertel Sights

The Bahnhofsviertel, which literally means "train station quarter", is a small district of Frankfurt am Main, in fact it is the 2nd smallest district in the city, being not much larger than Altstadt (old town). Bahnhofsviertel is home to the Hauptbahnhof (Main Railway Station), many skyscrapers and Frankfurt's very own red light district.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Fun for Children in Frankfurt

Fun for Children in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is a great city to spend time with your family and kids. Frankfurt is a perfect combination of old and modern, it has numerous things to offer both adults and little visitors. Museums, shops and cafés are just a few of the many spots that will make your stay a wonderful one.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Souvenir Shops, Innenstadt

Souvenir Shops, Innenstadt

It would be a pity to leave Frankfurt without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Frankfurt, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit. The shops on this list are located in the central district (Innenstadt) of Frankfurt and are all within a pleasant walking...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles

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