Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Germany Holidays: Frankfurt’s South Bank


City breaks in Germany: Museum Embankment Festival in Frankfurt

Frankfurt’s Museum Embankment lines up some of Germany’s finest museums and hosts a unique summer festival each August.

Frankfurt is one of those German cities that reveal their treasures on second sight. Culture vultures should take a closer look and not be put off by the city’s reputation for boring stuff like finances and business. It is actually arts and culture where the city on the river Main shines, with the Museumsufer, the Museum Embankment, as the bright star right in the middle of town. Time for a city break to do away with some prejudices.
Film buffs – tick. Architecture lovers – tick. Communications aficionados – tick. Ten museums are lined up on the south side of the Main, and another two just across the water. There’s one more on the Maininsel (Main island) plus a good dozen more in the direct vicinity of the embankment to complete the ensemble.
The mix of tradition and innovation makes the Museum Embankment unique
The film, architecture and communications museums are just three of the better known, along with the museum for applied arts and the wonderful Städel, which was founded in 1815 by the Frankfurt banker and merchant Johann Friedrich Städel, and showcases one of Germany’s grandest art collections. Like so many other of the museums along the river it is housed in a 19thcentury building which is almost a sight on its own.
The idea for the Museum Embankment in Frankfurt was born in the 1980s, and a considerable amount of money was invested in transforming and modernising the old villas, in addition to commissioning new museum buildings by leading architects. The resulting mix of tradition and innovation is what makes the Museum Embankment so unique.
Even more so on the last weekend of each August when the Museum Embankment Festival transforms the river front into one big party mile. The festival has become one of the biggest for arts and culture in Europe with up to three million visitors. And as these figures suggest, the Festival is not an elitist high-art get-together. It is more of a summer outdoor party for the whole family which also takes over some of the beautiful parks and gardens of the various museums.
Frankfurt’s river front has also become one of the best places for going out in the city, with beach bars and lounges amongst the museums, whilst many of the museums themselves have atmospheric locations for food and drink. The Städel has the Holbein courtyard restaurant covered by a glass roof while the Café im Liebighaus is the place to go for some German Kaffee und Kuchen delights before or after sampling the museum’s vast sculpture collections. The embankment is also the location of Germany’s only Döner boat, Merals Imbiss. Who would have thought.
So Frankfurt is not all about business and boring stuff. It definitely deserves a closer look.