Fun May 18, 2020

Frankfurt – it’s the motor show, right?

Living Word
By Living Word

Well, yes and no. ‘Das Auto’ is obviously an all-important part of both the German culture and economy, but there is far more to Frankfurt than cars.

For one thing, the 2020 edition of the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt would have been the last of its kind, had it gone ahead as planned. The organisers are planning to relocate the next edition, possibly to Munich. Would this be because the city is conveniently accessible with, say, a locally built BMW?

All about the money

If you work internationally in finance, a trip to Frankfurt is clearly a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. In terms of size, the city only ranks fifth in Germany, with approximately 750,000 inhabitants. To reframe it in a British perspective, it would be the equivalent of the City of London having set up shop in, say, Leeds.

The roots of the finance sector in the region go back to the Middle Ages. Today, the list of banks headquartered in Frankfurt reads like a Who’s Who of German financial institutions: Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, DZ Bank, Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen, Deutsche Börse and the German Federal Bank – and, of course, the European Central Bank. Add a smattering of other foreign outfits such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and you’ll quickly see why the city boasts its own banking district: the Bankenviertel. The banking skyscrapers give the city its extraordinary skyline, with a mix of old and new.

The best and biggest shows

But Frankfurt is not merely a Wall Street on the Main river sort of town. It also headquarters Lufthansa, IG Farben and a host of varied industries. Petrol heads are likely to know about the soon bygone motor show, but the city is also a massive trade show centre. Take your pick from a huge selection including the unfairly neglected Reptile Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest print and digital event.

With a low unemployment rate, a safe and green environment, proper seasons and a rich cultural heritage, Frankfurt consistently ranks in the top five of the best German cities to live in.

After office hours

Admittedly, the historic centre is on the small side, but it packs some serious Instagram opportunities. The Römerberg, the old town square, is well worth a visit. You’ll also want to visit the Hauptwache, a pedestrian area, with its heady mix of old houses against a backdrop of tall glass and concrete high-rise buildings.

Frankfurt’s museums are grouped around the river in the Museumufer, literally ‘the museum embankment’. The Städel Museum has an enviable collection of 14th century work and an eclectic mix of fine paintings ranging from Rembrandt and Goya to Cézanne and Pollock. You may also enjoy the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art, which boats a discerning collection of post-1960s works.

Visiting on foot is great, but if you heed the call of the machine you can tour the city on board your individual hot rod.