Frankfurt is known as the “Manhattan” of Europe, a financial powerhouse with soaring skyscrapers as well as traditional Old Town architecture. Experience the city with your choice of adventures today—visit Germany’s oldest museum, take a guided “Go Active” bike ride or learn about the Rothschild family’s rags-to-riches saga.Today we briefly leave the Rhine and cruise the Main to the dynamic metropolis of Frankfurt, the epicentre of German finance and international business.
Step ashore and walk a short distance to the Old Town for our “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour. This part of the city has charming old homes, stately churches and a lively covered market where you can sample all sorts of local delicacies. Later, you can visit Germany’s oldest museum, the Städel, with 700 years of European art housed under a single roof. If you prefer, opt for a guided “Go Active” bike ride that takes you through the Old Town, along the Main River promenade and down the city’s world-famous “Museum Mile”—which boasts no fewer than 13 acclaimed institutions. For something completely different, you can spend your time in Frankfurt delving into the city’s fascinating Jewish legacy.
Exclusive“Do as the Locals Do” Frankfurt walking tour with Städel Museum
Although Frankfurt is unabashedly modern, with a dynamic international population and a skyline dominated by skyscrapers, it has a much-loved historic core, and your ship docks within easy walking distance of it. Stroll with your guide through Römer Square, bordered by the re-created 15th-century mansions that constitute the old city hall, to the Klein Market Hall, where you’ll sample Frankfurt’s beloved apple cider and sausages as you take in the colourful scene: locals choose produce and sausage, cider and eggs, and flowers and spices from the covered market’s 154 stalls.
The city’s residents come from more than 200 nations, so you’ll find plenty of international specialities, too, along with regional items. Your next stop is Goethe House, the house museum devoted to Germany’s national poet, who was born in this city. Though Goethe’s work belongs to the world, Frankfurters take particular pride in their native son; the rooms here display furnishings from the writer’s day, as well as family portraits and the desk where Goethe completed Faust—not to mention a puppet theatre with which the four-year-old future poet played.
You’ll encounter the city’s bustling present-day economic power as you walk past the Frankfurt stock exchange and continue to Main Tower. Nothing exemplifies Frankfurt more than this lofty skyscraper: The façade of a historic building is incorporated in its base, and 56 stories of glass-encased offices soar above it. Ride up to the viewing platform for an amazing view of the city and its surroundings.
Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck, Botticelli, Lucas Cranach the Elder—the Städel’s collection encompasses a magnificent group of Old Master paintings but is by no means limited to them: Monet, Picasso, Francis Bacon, Baselitz, Yves Klein and many other artists also find space on the walls of the 200-year-old museum, which anchors Frankfurt’s Museum Mile, home to a dozen notable art institutions. Explore this collection with a knowledgeable guide, then venture into some of the neighbouring galleries and museums. The ship is anchored nearby, so this wealth of artistic treasures is just steps from the gangplank.
Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” Frankfurt by bicycle
Get a different view of the city via bicycle, pedalling through the old town area that was meticulously reconstructed after WWII (St. Paul’s Church was one of the first structures to be rebuilt because of its important place in the development of German democracy—the country’s first freely elected parliamentary body met in St. Paul’s oval hall), along Museum Mile and down the shady, pleasant Main Promenade, which stretches along both banks of the river.
Jewish Heritage, Frankfurt Jewish Museum and the legacy of the Rothschilds
The Rothschild family fortune began in Frankfurt, along with the family name—taken from the red shield on the family home on Judengasse, the quarter-mile-long street where all of Frankfurt’s Jews were required to live between 1462 and 1811. It was a crowded but prosperous community (it had to be prosperous, since the only way Jews enjoyed imperial protection was by paying enormous fees to the emperor). Mayer Rothschild started as a coin dealer, expanded into dealing antiques, and by 1792, he was a wealthy banker with an international clientele.
His five sons followed in his footsteps, extending the family business throughout Europe and lending their names to a raft of famous enterprises—and to numerous cultural and charitable institutions in Frankfurt and elsewhere. The Frankfurt Jewish Museum, located in a former Rothschild home that was recently renovated, offers a fascinating look at the family’s saga. Though none of the houses on Judengasse are still standing, you can see the foundations of some of them when you visit Museum Judengasse., which outlines the history of Jews in Frankfurt and their relations with the Christian community through the centuries. It abuts the Jewish cemetery and the memorial to victims of the Shoah, listing the names of 12,000 Frankfurt Jews who died in the death camps.