Let’s be frank. It’s not often you travel to a city so glaringly split between two distinct time periods. But Frankfurt is a unique metropolis torn between rich, financial growth and a rich, cultural past, where precision-built glass offices and cold metallic skyscrapers sit cosily alongside the ‘altstadt’ architecture of a time pre-World War ll. Germany’s remarkable second city is the country’s self-confessed business hub and its worldwide reputation means many people who come to visit tend to overlook its lesser known, vibrantly artistic core.
People from all over the world move to the city for work and with that comes a cosmopolitan atmosphere; one that comes to life in the summer when individuals flock to the banks of the Main River to sunbathe and have wurst-laden BBQs. But to really get the best out of this city, you need to visit in the winter or spring months. Why? The Palmengarten.
Financed and instigated by the architect Heinrich Siesmayer in 1871, the Palmenhaus (Palm House) – one of the world’s largest greenhouses – was actually built by another architect, Friedrich Kaysser, slap bang in the middle of 50 acres of beautiful garden. Its steel structure was based on similar designs in Paris and London and its main aim was to give the people of Frankfurt a place to spend their leisurely weekends in style.
Visitors can wander around the botanical displays, which are structured according to their origin, in free-air or climatised biotopes ranging from desert dunes to rainforest canopies. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in June, be sure to head to the garden’s Rose and Tea Light Festival, where thousands of tiny candles are placed around the garden and an impressive fireworks display tops off the whole event.
The Palmengarten is a must see for anyone visiting the city – a truly refreshing and charming space in what is often considered to be a concrete jungle. And if it’s simply a bit of green and pleasant respite you’re after, it’s the perfect place to walk around without a care in the world for a while.