Centuries of sibling rivalry between Offenbach and Frankfurt have led to such things as the totally unwarranted nickname ‘Awfulbach’ or the determined conviction of Frankfurters that Offenbachers cannot drive. (The OF license plate is said to mean ohne Führschein – no driver’s license).
This competition can be dated back to 917, since the first documented mention of Offenbach, but in truth, Offenbach is simply its own friendly little town just outside the city of Frankfurt. One could call it a suburb of Frankfurt but for fear of being verbally abused by an Offenbach resident who prefers to think of it as its own great entity. There are plenty of parallels between the two cities: Both sit nicely along the Main (making Offenbach a perfect destination to get to by bicycle); second only to Frankfurt, Offenbach has the next highest population of foreign residents in Germany (13 per cent), and this remains a defining aspect of life in each city; and both are dependent on banking and other service industries for their survival. No doubt Frankfurt is the larger city with far more opportunities for nightlife and sightseeing, but Offenbach manages a friendliness and neighbourly atmosphere that the colder streets of Frankfurt could never manage.
Shopping in Offenbach is calmer and friendlier than shopping in Frankfurt although with essentially have the same shops – Offenbach does boast the only Toys ‘R’ Us in the area though.
There is no specific Old Town area, although a walk through the city gives you plenty of buildings to see that managed to escape bombing during the war and/or have been restored to full beauty. In the heart of town, just between the shopping area and the Main, is Lilipark and Lilitemple, named after Goethe’s beloved wife Lili Schönemann, an expansive piece of land with playgrounds for children. The Büsing Palace, now part of the Arabella Sheraton is a classic example of neo-Baroque architecture, but its interior is only accessible via the hotel. There is also a Baroque castle in Rumpenheim, with its castle gardens (Schlosspark), just outside of Offenbach, directly on the Main, but it now serves exclusively as domestic dwellings, so you may only look, but not touch. To get to the castle in Rumpenheim, take bus N°101 from Marktplatz to Marstallstrasse, and walk about 100 metres up the road to reach the castle and gardens. There is a fairly nice German restaurant and café called Zum Schiffchen (Schmiedgasse 8, 86 55 01) just next to the castle, which is ideal for cake and coffee in the afternoon.
Deutches Ledermuseum & Schuhmuseum
Frankfurter Str. 86, tel. 829 79 80, www.ledermuseum.de.
Offenbach was a centre for leather manufacturing until WWII ended and the leather industry vanished, leaving behind only this museum as evidence of its existence. Be not fooled by the moniker German leather museum, for it’s this museum’s international exhibitions that are its greatest provision. The downstairs collection of shoes spans over 3,000 years of walking pleasure (or displeasure from the looks of some of the models on display.) Naturally the history of leathercraft is explored, with items ranging from saddles to bookbinding, as well as an exhaustive exhibition of photo albums, leather fashion, furniture for home and office, games, toys, etc. However, it is the non-European exhibitions that prove most fascinating, a display of ethnology that one wouldn’t think of encountering in such a museum. An exhibition of the Inuit Indians and original cowboys is a superlative piece of North American history. Another fantastic attraction is the Asian shadow puppet collection and samurai collection, whose armour, weapons, and saddles in iron and leather are the museum’s showpiece collection. Equally impressive is the collection of huts from West Africa and the Sahara, tribal clothing and weaponry, as well as some history of colonialism in Africa.
Open 10:00 - 17:00. Admission €1.50-3.
Herrnstr. 80, tel. 80 65 29 54.
The Klingspor brothers (Wilhelm and Karl) were the owners of a typeface company who created a foundry of world-renowed typefaces of their day. The firm’s highly artistic typesettings are the basis of the museum’s collection, in addition to a rich collection of literature on the art of book production, the history of letterpress printing, typography and calligraphy, graphic techniques and the art of paper making. The permanent collection is housed in the town’s library, just next to the actual museum, both of which rest in the beautiful Büsing Palace. Domestic or international exhibitions are always on display. Exhibition from Sep 15 - Nov 14: Edition Despalles – Book and Art Typography.
Open Tues, Thurs, Fri, 10:00 - 17:00; Wed 14:00 - 19:00; Sat & Sun 11:00 - 16:00; Closed Mon. Admission €1-2.50.
Haus der Stadtgeschichte Museum
Herrnstr. 61, tel. 80 65 20 46.
Unfortunately unless you are a speaker of German, this historical museum doesn’t have much to offer the wayward traveller. Its fairly limited and parochial collection includes ancient pottery, some Faiences porcelain, and a model of Offenbach circa 1830. Its best and most valuable display is a huge Huguenot dollhouse from 1757 that is sure to be any child’s fantasy.
Open Tues, Thurs, Fri 10:00 - 17:00; Wed 14:00 - 19:00; Sat & Sun 11:00 - 16:00; Closed Mon. Admission €1-3.
Berliner Str. 109, tel. 85 70 84 95.
Next to the Arabella Sheraton, under a glass pavilion and directly across the street from City Hall is Zo, a new trendy café in the heart of Offenbach. Friendly service, a hearty menu with Mediterranean specialties in a 60s chic atmosphere come together and create the perfect little city spot for breakfast, brunch, dinner, or an after hours hang.
Open 09:00 - 01:00, Sat 09:00 - 02:00. (€9-18)
Café Bar 13
Wilhelmsplatz 13, tel. 82 36 62 68, www.cafebar13.de.
This café bar and bistro takes diversity seriously. With seven pages of choices merely for breakfast, and a sultry list of Mediterranean and Asian choices for meals and snacks during the rest of the day, and of course a full cocktail menu to round out the possibilities, Café Bar 13 proffers diverse food, guests, and conversation in stylish and distinctive surroundings. Open 09:00 - 01:00, Fri, Sat 09:00 - 02:00. (€7-14)
Brasserie Beau D’eau
Wilhelmsplatz 8, tel. 82 52 25, www.brasserie-offenbach.de.
A sunny and warm café, this brasserie was the original hip place to be before the hip hit town. Delicious menu items including fish, steak, pasta, burgers, homemade soups and breakfast are bought directly from the farmer’s market then brought directly to your table, making the food incredibly fresh and delightful.
Open 10:00 - 01:00, Fri 09:00 - 02:00, Sat 08:00 - 02:00. (€6-13)
ArabellaSheraton am Büsing Palais
Berliner Str. 111, tel. 82 99 90/82 99 98 00, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.arabellasheraton.com.
Conveniently located near the city of Offenbach’s main shopping district, this Sheraton offers excellent conference facilities and meeting rooms in the renovated baroque Büsing Palais. The atmosphere in the lobby and that of the rooms is fairly generic, but the surrounding palace grounds are first-rate. They also boast a tremendous spa, wellness and fitness area. 221 rooms (122 singles €175 - 285, 98 doubles €211 - 321, 1 junior suite €179 - 326).
Winter’s Offenbacher Hof
Ludwigstr. 33-37, tel. 82 37 27 20, fax 823 72 72 23, email@example.com, www.winters.de. Just a 5-minute walk from the central shopping area, this cosy hotel offers a friendlier and less expensive alternative to the Arabella Sheraton. Standard amenities and above average reception service in addition to a decent hotel bar, the Alt-Berliner Biersalon, make for a comfortable stay. 74 rooms (40 singles €59 - 165, 17 doubles €65 - 180, 18 suites €85 - 205).
How to get there?
Take the S1, 2, 8, or 9 to Offenbach Markt. The journey costs €3.25 one-way, or you can buy a regular one-way Frankfurt ticket (€1.70) and a Tageskarte (daily card, €3.80) for Offenbach. It’s quite a bit cheaper if you plan to use local public transport in Offenbach while you are in town. Once you are at Marktplatz, head over to the Tourist Information Centre, OF InfoCenter, Salzgässchen 1, 80 65 20 52, www.ofinfocenter.de. A free booklet with city map is available, but unfortunately only in German.
International Cultural Festival - Sep 4 & 5
Organised by international clubs and associations featuring music and dance performances and culinary diversity on Wilhelmsplatz.
20th Anniversary of Büsing Palace - Sep 26
A festival and concert commemorating 20 years of the restored palace at Büsing Palace.