The backbone of Frankfurt, the Römer square in the Altstadt (Old City), dates back hundreds of years. The well-kept appearance of Römer with the Rathaus (Town Hall) is impressive. However, do not be deceived, most of these old buildings were virtually destroyed after World War II and were only recently rebuilt as replicas of the previous structures. Here also lies the birthplace of the German constitution, founded in 1848 at the Paulskirche (Paul's Church), which were both destroyed less than one year later by the riots arising from the French Revolution. Today the church stands more as a symbol for German freedom and democracy than for Christianity, and is frequently used for art exhibitions and special gatherings.
The inner city covers the area from Konstablerwache all the way up to Alte Oper. It is home to the Zeil, Germany's longest Fussgängerzone (pedestrian shopping street) with its array of shops. There is also the Freßgass (a concentration of restaurants) and Goethestrasse, holding the smaller, more refined shops and cafés, and the Friedberger Tor, one of Frankfurt's two medieval watchtowers.
Those looking for the excitement of the city's famous red-light district need not travel far from the Hauptbahnhof. The Bahnhofsviertel (train station area) offers all kinds of naughty treats for lonely businessmen, including peep shows, sex shops and countless women of ill-repute. Nonetheless, the Bahnhofsviertel contains some nice architecture as well as some of the city's best ethnic restaurants. Though the city has spent much time and money cleaning up the area, the faint of heart are recommended to stay on Kaiserstraße when walking into the city centre. Others may say that the area with its red-light activities north of Kaiserstraße is the liveliest spot in town.
This neighbourhood south of the river, like other parts of Frankfurt, is a mix of old and new. But Sachsenhausen retains more charm, making it popular with tourists and young locals. Schweizerstraße is the main street and offers some of the city's better shopping: a mix of boutiques, delis and bakeries, bookshops, flower shops, trendy cafés and restaurants. The boisterous bars along the pedestrianised cobbled streets of
(E-3, U-Bahn Lokalbahnhof) are popular with locals and tourists alike. Many of the city's museums are located along the Schaumainkai on this side of the river, as is a large flea market on Saturday mornings. In summer, the park along the water is a popular spot for watching the sun go down behind the skyscrapers. Look out for a nutty Sachsenhausen resident, Naked George, who roams the streets wearing nothing but a walkman and occasionally, a pair of shoes.
Bornheim, northeast of the centre and nicknamed das Lustige Dorf (The Funny Village) is the most highly populated area in Frankfurt. To explore this area, simply follow the Bergerstrasse, the central shopping and pedestrian zone, or go to U-Bahn station Bornheim Mitte. Find a wide variety of cafés, ice cream parlours, bars, cinemas and restaurants with relaxed terraces. There is also some great shopping to be found on the Bergerstrasse with quite a number of shoe and clothes shops. Every Wednesday and Saturday, the square am Uhrtürmchen (at the clock tower) hosts the Bornheim Farmer's Market with fresh fruit and vegetables as well as local craftsman, bakers and butchers.
Back in the 1970s the area north of the centre was home to the liberal community where many freethinking minds joined forces with such famous Green Party members as the former German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer. Today it holds a large crowd of young professionals while still maintaining its creative and eclectic character. The numerous bars, restaurants and cafés to be found between Friedberger Landstrasse and Oederweg add to its appeal. The Holzhausenpark (including Holzhausen Castle) is frequently the scene of concerts and exhibitions.
The area of choice for business types. It's a green, mean power machine: lots of cash, affluent city living and home to Grünebergpark, with spacious green grounds to jog, sunbath or flirt with the natives. The Palmengarten is another great Westend asset, holding a wonderful array of plant species in its botanical garden.
You will find both rags and riches in Bockenhim. On one side, it is adjacent to exclusive Westend and as such contains impressive estates, mansions, and foreign consulate dwellings located on the outskirts of the Palmengarten. On the other side it is lined with the dreadfully dull concrete campus of the University of Frankfurt. Perched in the middle of it all is the city's other remaining medieval watchtower.