Unique discoveries in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region

When I visited Frankfurt in December 2013, it was an interesting foray into a portion of my past. Being of German and Polish heritage, I found much about the area intriguing. Recently, I received an email from the region’s tourism marketing board highlighting many of the things the region has to offer beyond bratwurst and Christkindlmarkts.

“A varied cultural scene, impressive sightseeing attractions and a delicious range of culinary offerings have helped to turn the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region in Germany into a bustling and vibrant region for visitors looking for quality and variety on a grand scale,” the email started out.

Christmas Market in Weisbaden, Germany
Christkindlmarkt in Wiesbaden

Indeed, the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region has gained a reputation as being one of the most diverse regions in Germany. Apart from the Alps and the northern coastline, visitors will find virtually everything a traveler thinks of when they thing about Germany: great food and wine, half-timbered houses, beautiful countryside with many opportunities for outdoor activities, friendly people, enchanting rivers and historic towns.

Natural history on display

Nature lovers as well as the scientifically inclined will be interested in a new fossil discovery at the Messel Fossil Pit in the Odenwald region close to Frankfurt.

The Messel Fossil Pit  is already known for its fascinating array of incredibly well-preserved fossils including a prehistoric horse, insects, birds, and fish. But the latest discovery tops them all: A perfectly preserved “fossil food chain,” only the second of its kind in the world ever to be found.

While the first impression is that of a fossilized snake, upon closer inspection Messel researchers found a preserved lizard inside the stomach of the snake … and inside the stomach of the lizard were the preserved remains of its last meal: a small beetle.

The Messel Fossil Pit is currently the only place on earth where guests can get an up-close look at this 48-million-year-old food chain in addition to its extensive collection of fossils and convivial visitor center.

Spend the night in a monastery

The city of Bingen, about 70 kilometers west of downtown Frankfurt, is situated directly on the banks of the Rhine River and is famous for both its historical connection to St. Hildegard von Bingen as well as its cultural diversity.

Surrounded on all sides by beautiful vineyards, one of Bingen’s unique features is a newly opened accommodation option: The Hildegard Forum of the Sisters of the Cross. Previously a monastery, the 3-star plus establishment offers single and double rooms for those who want to experience the authentic atmosphere of a real monastery.

Museum culture

About 40 kilometers southeast of Frankfurt, the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg is getting ready to herald the opening of a new museum dedicated to the work and life of Christian Schad, one of the most important protagonists of Modernism. When it opens its doors in the heart of Aschaffenburg’s aldstadt or old town, it will become the first facility in what is planned as the “Aschaffenburg Museum Quarter,” a one mile stretch between Stift and Schloss near a former Jesuit monastery.

The Bavarian town also offers other must-see events and highlights including events inspired by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation to others that enrich the town’s already rich cultural landscape.

The Frankfurt station district

Frankfurt’s station district, which covers only half a square kilometer, is home to people from 180 countries.

InterCity Express (ICE) Train, Germany
InterCity Express (ICE) Train

The district was originally established at the end of the 19th century near Frankfurt’s Hauptbahnhoff, or main train station, and originally served as an important international traffic and transportation hub.

The area’s most significant street is “Kaiserstraße,” or Emperor’s Street. It connects the station district to downtown Frankfurt and gives visitors a glimpse of the quarter’s former grandeur. The area is an urban microcosm with mosques, schools, shops, offices, cultural facilities and residential buildings co-existing side by side.

Named as one of the “places to be” by the New York Times newspaper, this Frankfurt city district is rich in color and contrast. It features exotic restaurants, international shops with a truly global flair as well as the district’s “red-light industry.” Bookable guided tours of the station district available.

Christmas Market Magic

As the summer gives way to autumn in Germany, there is one thing that everyone looks forward to: the Christkindlmarkts, or Christmas Markets. Gluhwein and culinary specialties like Kartoffelpuffer, Bratwurst, Lebkuchen, and the famous Feuerzangenbowle (mulled wine with rum) accompanied by music, laughter, and camaraderie are sure to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.

Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus, or potato pancakes with applesauce, German Christmas Market food
Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus

Markts are fixtures in the bigger cities like Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Aschaffenburg or Darmstadt as well as in smaller, picturesque towns like Rüdesheim, Bingen, Bad Homburg, Hanau, Seligenstadt or Rüsselsheim. Christmas cheer and an unforgettable experience are practically guaranteed, as no one does Christmas quite like the Germans.

With less than three months to go, I don’t think it’s too early to say Fröhe Weihnachten!

Many of the area's attractions can be reached by car, public transportation, or Germany's wonderful train system. Ask at your hotel's concierge desk about the best way to get to your destinations.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photo by Carl Dombek
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