Fortunately for us, Frankfurt is only about an hour trip by train or auto from Marburg. We chose the later option this time and headed south by bus with a group of other Fulbrighters.
A proper visit to Frankfurt begins where Frankfurt began, in Römerberg (or the old central squaure) of the Altstadt (old city), on the northern shore of the river Main. Römerberg remains the political and social center of Frankfurt. Many emperors have been elected here, but in today’s Germany it is the site for events like the famed Christmas market. On our visit we even witnessed a few weddings taking place.
The city of Frankfurt was mostly leveled during WWII, so the majority of the Römerberg square is composed of reconstructed half-timbered houses. Dominating the center of the square, however, is the 16th century Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (or Fountain of Justice).
Here’s Penelope, bundled up outside of the old Rathaus (or city hall).
One of Frankfurt’s most well known attractions is Paulskirche (or St. Paul’s Church).
The Church was originally constructed (in Neoclassical style) to serve as the city’s principal Protestant church. It is now famous, however, as the gathering place in 1848 of Germany’s first democratically elected assembly. Given the church’s namesake (St. Paul!), we were excited to make our visit. Things quickly became depressing. The Paulskirche, despite the name, is no longer a church (no pastor, no congregation, no gatherings of worship) but rather a hollowed out secular monument.
All Christian symbols have been purged. In their place, the vacant space has become memorial to the idea of German political unity. This unity is expressed by the flags of the 16 Bundesländer (or states) that wrap around the walls of the interior.
Paulskirche is a tragic reminder (especially for American churches) of why Christians refuse to adorn their sanctuaries with national flags and to pervert their liturgies with secular celebrations like the 4th of July, Memorial Day, et al. For those churches unfaithful in this matter, see St. Paul’s “Church.” MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN!
After Paulskirche, we ascended the Maintower and took in the spectacular views of Frankfurt.
The streets were lined with stalls featuring crafts and foods, both local and international.
Apfelwein (literally “apple wine”), the drink of Frankfurt, was also readily available. It tastes similar to apple cider, but it’s more sour than sweet. The stalls selling Apfelwine were charming and sometimes extravagant.
Near the end of the evening, as we headed back to catch our bus, Penelope spotted the city park. She insisted that she be allowed to play just like the other big kids.