From peaceful vineyards to the busy financial district, Frankfurt is a city of contrasts. Luckily, the team at KKDL was able to unlock its many secrets. Museums, galleries and monuments were all on our doorstep, including the Opera House and St Batholomew’s cathedral. See what we recommend for your next escape.
ROCCO FORTE VILLA KENNEDY
Once a grand family home, Villa Kennedy is now the embodiment of a modern Frankfurt. Built in 1904, the hotel was renamed in honor of President John F Kennedy’s visit in 1963. It has been extensively restored but still retains its family feel. The tranquil courtyard garden in the center is ideal for alfresco dinner and drinks in the warmer months.
We visited the 127-room hotel and its Presidential Suite, frequented by the Rolling Stones and Bruce Willis, during our Modenus Blog Tour Ambiente trip where we shared a private dinner with the owners and marketing team from Villeroy + Boch. The ballroom details and the food presentation made for a night to remember.
When in Frankfurt, be sure to visit the Fressgass area. It is chock-full of restaurants, cafes, bars and a few luxury stores. This is a perfect place to relax with a cup of coffee after a long day of shopping, or enjoy a cocktail at one of its many trendy bars. Inviting café tables line the pedestrian only street and you can see why this a favorite dining destination for tourists and local residents alike.
We were fortunate to have been able to visit Germany during a very festive time of year for them. The carnival season begins each year on November 11 at 11:11 a.m. and finishes on Ash Wednesday of the following year. Most of the activities take place on the weekend before Ash Wednesday and on the following Monday. Carnavale started in 1823 by the Carnivale Club in Cologne and each of the cities and villages have their own traditions. Participants dress in costumes and many dance or sing in local parades. Everyone greets each other with a hearty, “Hellooo”!
For a fantastic haute couture shopping experience, the Goethestrasse area will not disappoint. The street was constructed in the late 1800’s and retains some of the historical feeling of that era. Here, you will find Chanel, Ferragamo, Burberry, Jill Sander, Gucci, Versace, Tiffany, Prada and Hermes among other luxury retailers and local boutiques.
A very short walk away from Goethestrasse, is the original Frankfurt opera house. Built in Renaissance style architecture, Alte Oper was completed in 1880 and the venue for many famous operas over the years. It was destroyed in World War II and was re-built in the 1970’s, with the exterior and the lobby closely resembling the original design. Many musical and theatrical performances can be seen here throughout the year.
Frankfurt offers a “Golden Mile” of shopping in the Zeil area. Before, World War II, it was known for its grand, historic buildings, but most of them were destroyed. Now Zeil is home to large department stores, as well as many specialized shops. A unique service is offered here, as well. There are lockers available for shoppers to leave their bags. So a fantastic meal can be enjoyed in one of the many cafes and restaurants without having to carry heavy purchases.
Zeil is a large pedestrian only zone and hosts a farmer’s market several nights a week. Residents can purchase a wide variety of products from this area, including fresh vegetables, cheese and wine. Regional specialties can be found here too—Grune Sofe is a traditional sauce made from hard boiled eggs and seven herbs. Like much of what we have seen in Frankfurt, there is a unique blend of tradition and up-to-date trends.
LOUIS GUNTRUM WINERY
Wine tasting on the Rhine River is truly a once in a life time experience! We knew it was going to be a memorable visit when our bus pulled up to the Louis Guntrum Winery and glasses of wine awaited us on a table overlooking the Rhine River. This winery was established in 1648 and is owned and operated by Louis Konstantin Guntrum, the 11th generation of the Guntrum family to make wine.
The winery has a unique history. In 1945, during World War II, U.S. General Patton occupied the winery and the adjacent family mansion. It is hard to imagine that tanks once stood in the same location where wine barrels now sit.
Beneath the winery are unexpectedly large caves and tunnels. Beautifully carved wine barrels that were created to commemorate a special event, such as a wedding, are on display here.
Centuries’ old wine are stored behind this decorative metal door.
Oppenheim is located on the Rhine River and is a charming medieval town. With roots tracing back to 765, it flourished as a trade center for products such as salt and wine for many years. Oppenheim is now known as the location of one of the most famous Gothic Churches on the Rhine, Saint Katherine’s Church, built in 1220-1439. Most of the stained glass windows are original from the 14th century.
As we circled the church, we noticed a small building called the Oppenheim Ossuary and peeked inside. We were shocked to see thousands of bones and skulls stacked against the wall. As the church’s cemetery filled up, graves were reused and the 16th and 17th century bones were relocated to this building. 14,000-20,000 skeletons are in their final resting place here.
Another fascinating feature about Oppenheim is that it has numerous tunnels built under the city. Oppenheimer Kellerlabyrinth (Oppenheim Cellar Labyrinth) was built by residents during the middle ages for security purposes. Underground hallways, stairs and rooms connect with each other and can be toured. About 650 meters of passageways are open to visitors. Experts believe that only about 3% of the total underground passages are open to viewing and that there may be more than 40 kilometers of this underground city. The tunnels are remarkable and we highly recommend a visit to any non-clausterphobic tourists.
We were able to tour another history-rich city on the Rhine River. Founded in the first century BC, Mainz was a Roman fort on the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire.
In the 1450’s Mainz became famous as the home of the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg. The first books were produced here allowing information to be produced inexpensively and quickly. This small city contributed to the beginning of the Renaissance.
Now, visitors are drawn to the city for its beautiful Baroque architecture and large, inviting squares. Mainz’s Old Town has many restored buildings home to elegant boutiques, cafes and wine bars. Surrounded by stores and row houses, St. Augustine’s Church is another stunning attraction that has been preserved in the heart of Mainz. The front façade is made from red sandstone and was built as an Augustinian hermit monastery between 1768 and 1776. Unlike many churches in the region, St. Augustine’s Church remained unscathed during World War II.
More than 80 percent of the city’s center was destroyed during the World War II. The reconstruction of Mainz was carefully planned by French architect and town-planner, Marcel Lods, and lasted several decades to complete. The result has been well worth the wait.