Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
When you visit the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region of Germany an insightful quote of one of that country’s favored sons – Goethe – will music in your mind. Yes, perhaps you’ve thought often about this region of Germany, read enough about it till you feel you almost know it; but it is only through looking, genuinely seeing, that its singular importance, both historical and visual, come through loud and clear.
The great city of Frankfurt on the Main River is the birthplace of Goethe. It is a lively destination in the heart of Europe – and a major financial hub, the largest on the continent. The city’s liberal and democratic tradition is one of the reasons that people from very diverse cultures have settled here over time. This ethnicity has contributed to making Frankfurt shine exclusively from every angle, kind of like a jewel that shines differently when observed from unique viewpoints.
The architecture here is captivating: the ancient and very old blends smoothly with bold high-rises, and with the Museum Embankment consisting of 13 world-renown museums. Taking the liberty of quoting the great poet Goethe once again: “I call architecture frozen music.” Indeed. Do plan to experience an unparalleled view of Frankfurt’s skyline via a night cruise on the Main. You’ll sail under all seven city bridges and view sizzling neighborhood streetscapes, while above the sky turns mauve and pink, and below lights cast orange and gold reflections on the water. Enchantment.
And the enchantment will continue. Your next stops may well be Wiesbaden and Rudesheim. You’ll take a leisurely and picturesque cruise along the Rhine in Wiesbaden, the capital of the Hesse region and a traditional spa city. The banks of the river are punctuated by the occasional lone bicyclist or strolling couple, as well as appealing homes nestled amid verdant woodlands and rows of well-tended vineyards. This city has a long history as a spa town and is home to the celebrated Kurhaus, an unprecedented center for exhibitions, conventions and cultural events. Once inside, your guide may explain that if we you’re quiet as mice, you’ll be allowed to tiptoe to the uppermost balcony of the concert hall to hear a pianist rehearsing for an upcoming performance. You’ll sit high amid ornate splendor as notes of perhaps a Chopin etude will drift heavenward and envelope you. At the opening ceremony of Kurhaus in 1907, Kaiser Wilhelm II called it “the most beautiful spa building in the world.”
On to Rudesheim, a city whose reputation precedes it as the famous wine region of Reingau and its well-known Riesling wines. A medieval atmosphere pervades the city due in part to its architecture of quaint half-timbered houses. Take a cable car to a high plateau to view the impressive Germania monument and panoramic views over the old town, over the shimmering waters of the Rhine dotted with green isles, and over vineyards – vineyards, vineyards everywhere.
Champagne air anyone?
Bad Homburg is the former summer residence of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II and an internationally known spa town. A stroll around its environs will not be unlike a trip back to royal times with its 19th century buildings and ornate casino. Residents are proud of this fashionable heart of the Taunus region and its fresh, brisk air they like to call “champagne air.” You will visit Saalburg, a Roman fort that delineates the border fortification of the German provinces. Here you’ll see a completely reconstructed Roman fort – a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Held only once every four years in Seligenstadt, the Seligenstadter Geleit – “Seligenstadt Escort,” is a celebration that is unique in Germany dating from the early Middle Ages and continuing to present day. The ceremony refers to a kind of safe passage ritual. During ancient times traveling merchants were often set upon by thieves and thus used Seligenstadt as a rest stop and to obtain an escort for safe passage. Today the entire town becomes one huge festive event of more than 100 elaborately built attractions and a grand carnival parade that wanders through crowds as large as 40,000. This is an attraction you may see only once in a lifetime; plan your visit for 2019!
Everything Old Is New Again
Under an hour’s drive to our next destination is Hessenpark, an open-air museum that showcases half-timbered buildings of the Hesse region. Here a hundred houses are on display, each distinctive, each conjuring a fascinating world of more than 400 years of rural life. There are clock towers, windmills, a bakery, a village school and even an ancient post office Hessenpark is a popular family destination and a cool learning experience for kids.
New Yorkers, mark your calendars for the Munich on the East River Event, Oct. 2-12,
An old German legend tells us that after God named all of the plants, a tiny unnamed one cried out, “Forget-me-not, O Lord!” God replied “That shall be your name;” thus, this flower became the sentimental favorite of the country. Once you visit Frankfurt Am Main with memories firmly tucked in your mind – Forget-Me-Not? – Not a chance!
If You Go:
Frankfurt Rhine Main Tourism Lufthansa Airline (travel directly in comfort/great food)