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Strategically located in the heart of Germany, in the Hesse region, the city of Frankfurt attracts millions of visitors every year with its vivacity and multiculturalism. Only a few historic buildings were saved by the post-war reconstruction, but they are significant ones: the Römer (the city hall with its timbered-house features), the Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church, now deconsecrated) and the house of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, without a doubt Frankfurt's most famous and illustrious citizen.
Financial heart or apple wine?
The rest was rebuilt according to a modern and futuristic urban plan, which today houses the financial heart of Europe. That means many skyscrapers over 200 meters high: the MesseTurm (the Trade Fair Tower, 257 m), the Westendtower (home to the DZ Bank offices, 208 m) and the Main Tower with a 200-m high platform. But perhaps the most famous is the 259-meter Commerzbank Tower, which until 2005 was the tallest tower in Europe. Its 56 floors and 121,000 square meters of space house offices for the bank's headquarters, as well as the beautiful winter gardens.
These buildings have earned Frankfurt some interesting nicknames, an echo of American capitalist culture. It isn't unusual to hear the city referred to as Bankfurt or Mainhattan (a play on words between the Main River and Manhattan, the financial heart of New York). Much of Frankfurt's fame is also undeniably down to the euro: The city is home to the prestigious and imposing European Central Bank, responsible for managing European monetary policy.
However, the success of Frankfurt and its inhabitants lies in their ability to combine tradition with modernity. This ambition is demonstrated through financial development and preservation of culture, as shown by the growing number of publishing houses that can be found at the Book Fair (the Frankfurter Buchmesse), the most prestigious editorial exhibition in Europe. Every year the book fair attracts over 300,000 visitors and a good 9,000 exhibitors. This ambition is also demonstrated by a growing cultural fervor, by the prestigious university named after Goethe, the center of excellence for scientific research in Germany, and by the impressive increase in the number of museums (at least 13 have opened in the past few decades alone) along the two banks of the River Main.
The river is one of the symbols of the city that inhabitants and visitors are particularly attached to. Its banks are crowded with people enjoying a relaxing moment, bringing man closer to nature; the river, one of Germany's most important waterway systems thanks to its navigability, has seen new urban developments and architectural models for new residential districts spring up along its banks.
The city has a wonderful balance between the sacred and the profane: It is not unusual to bump into tourists intent on discovering every corner of the city's beauty, while the same time meeting brokers who are frantically running to close an important contract for one of the banks they work for.
This is the charm of a metropolis that finds it hard to isolate itself in modernity and wants to stay "people-friendly."
This will be why Frankfurt is the most multicultural city in Germany: over 42% of its inhabitants have non-German roots from over 180 nations around the world, expertly combining the concept of globalization with that of integration.
The home of cider…
Take a walk in the city's small and cozy historic center, lose yourself among the cobbled streets on the way to the Sachsenhausen district and step into one of the many Apfelweinkneipen, the cider taverns. Here you can sample the quintessential local drink, cider (Apfelwein or Ebbelwoi, as is it known by the locals), which, among other things, is the reason for another of the city's affectionate nicknames, the Big Äppel. During the cold winter nights, the citizens usually drink it warm and add cinnamon, a slice of lemon or both. This is the classic Christmas Markets drink, together with the typical Glühwein, or mulled wine.
Delicacies to make you ditch the diet
Enter the Bockenheimer Strasse, the Frankfurt street full of local restaurants, and leave behind any intentions you had of dieting. Here you can enjoy traditional dishes that, calories aside, will delight even the most refined palates. Why not start with Handkäse mit Musik (cheese with music), a cheese with a soft consistency and a particularly strong scent, that is served with lots of onion. Then move on to sausages with sauerkraut and served with grüne Sosse, a delicious green herb-based sauce.
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