ABOUT THE CITY
Frankfurt is a study of contrasts. It combines the modern with the traditional, the urban with the rural in a fascinating way. Wealthy bankers, students, and granola drop-outs coexist in a city that has some of the highest, most avant-garde skyscrapers of Europe next to well maintained old buildings. Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe. It is seat of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks. Frankfurt International Airport is one of the world’s busiest airports. ‘Back to the river’ has been the magic phrase in the Main city for quite a long time. With its cocktail bars and garden restaurants, the riverside has become a pleasant promenade. At the center is the ‘Nizza’ or ‘Nice’ Garden – with palms, banana trees, stone pines, cypresses, cork trees and other southern plants, one of the most diverse southern gardens north of the Alps. What a way to spend your Saturdays!
Frankfurt am Main is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany. Throughout its history, Frankfurt has been linked to international trade, commerce and transportation. Today, the city is playing a leading role in the European monetary union as the home of the European Central Bank and the German Stock Exchange. Almost one in three of the people living in Frankfurt do not hold a German passport.
In the area of the Römer, Roman settlements were established, probably in the first century; some artifacts from that era are found to this day. The city district Bonames has a name probably dating back to Roman times – it is thought to be derived from bona me(n)sa. Nida (Heddernheim) was also a Roman civitas capital. The name of Frankfurt on the Main is derived from the Franconofurt of the Germanic tribe of the Franks; Furt (cf. English ford) denotes a low point passage across a stream or river.
The three pillars of Frankfurt’s economy are finance, transport, and trade fairs. Frankfurt has been Germany’s financial capital for centuries, and it is the home of a number of major banks and brokerages. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange is by far Germany’s largest, and one of the world’s most important. Frankfurt is also the seat of the European Central Bank which sets monetary policy for the Eurozone economy, and of the German Bundesbank. A number of major German commercial banks, including Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, and Commerzbank, have their seats in Frankfurt.
You won’t have to go far to find traditional German cuisine in Frankfurt. The city is known for such regional specialties as grune sosse (green sauce: a rich cream or mayonnaise base with herbs, including cress, chives, sorrel and parsley) and rippchen mit kraut (pork chop and sauerkraut). Another local dish to try is handkas mit musik, a form of curd cheese served with raw onions, oil and vinegar and almost always eaten with bread and butter (it’s too strong for some tastes). The classic Frankfurt drink is apfelwein (known in the local dialect as ebbelwoi), an apple wine served in a decorative clay pitcher, called a bembel.
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Population (July 2005) 648,325
Area 96 sq.mi. (248.31 km²)
Time zone: CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
If you can help it, you shouldn’t drive in the heart of the city, because it’s nearly impossible to find legal parking. Even open spots are often legally reserved for residents of the area, and you’ll need to have a permit to park there. There are parking garages that typically cost 8 euros for the day and are within walking distance of destinations or at least near public transportation.
It’s true: there are no speed limits on parts of the German autobahns. But there are plenty of other regulations of which you should be aware. Police are very strict on tailgating, passing on the right, and other aggressive driving. Also, DUI laws are tougher, so if you’ve had more than one drink, it’s a good idea to let someone else drive.
Frankfurt central station is the most important rail transport hub in Germany. Every day, more than 1,100 trains connect the city with many national and international destinations and around 700 suburban railway trains take passengers to stations within Frankfurt and the surrounding area. More than 350,000 passengers and visitors from home and abroad use this station every day. To be able to manage this great volume of traffic, the central station has more than 25 platforms in five departure halls.
The RMV website has detailed fare and schedule information available for traveling in the city. The U-Bahn, or subway system, is the most efficient way.
Frankfurt Airport (FRA)
The city is accessed from around the world via the Frankfurt International Airport. The airport has three runways and is one of the three busiest airports in Europe, along with London Heathrow Airport and Charles de Gaulle International Airport. It is the biggest cargo-airport in Europe. The airport is 12 km southwest of downtown. There is good public transportation service to the airport.
Local Phone Numbers
112 Fire and Ambulance
011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of U.S.A., when placing the call in the US.
001 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of Germany, when placing the call in Germany.
49 is the international code used to dial to Germany.
69 is the local area or city code used to dial to Frankfurt.
Deutsche Telekom was historically the “Ma Bell” or telephone monopoly of Germany, other providers have now joined the marketplace. You can sign up for telephone services with TKS (Telepost Kabel-Service). They specialize in providing telephone and internet solutions to the English-speaking community in Germany. TKS is a full-service partner of Deutsche Telekom that does everything in English.
There are several mobile phone service providers to choose from, along with a wide array of mobile devices that are available pre-paid or with annual service plans. The average American “cellular” phone will not work in Europe unless it is a compatible tri-band/GSM device. While roaming within Germany, you will not be charged for your incoming calls, regardless of their origin. It is more expensive to call German mobile phones since the caller is picking up the entire cost of the connection, not the receiver. Be aware that in Germany it is against the law to use a mobile phone while driving, so be sure have some sort of “hands-free” device.
Germany has many Internet options and this can be a good thing. However, pinning down and recommending the exact Internet plan for every type of user is difficult given the constantly changing nature of the telecommunications marketplace. One place to start for English-speakers here in Germany is TKS. TKSSurf! Internet service has many competitively priced plans that have no contractual obligations and offers subscribers full service, over-the-phone technical support in English.
When you run into your first connectivity issue, having a service provider that has English-speaking technical experts can go a long way in getting things sorted out. So to establish your connection to the worldwide web here in Germany, first try to define your household’s Internet and budgetary requirements, and then look for an Internet service that is easy to use and compatible with your particular needs.
Choosing the right service provider and Internet plan is important. Many of the Internet “bargains” that you see advertised may have some major drawbacks if you read the German “fine print.” For example, some providers bundle a low telephone monthly fee and a DSL flat rate together, but then charge you more for all your phone calls. Obtaining a lower rate from other carriers may be restricted and the use of calling-cards may be blocked as well. Many providers also offer Internet and telephone “service-bundles” that can potentially save you money on activation and hardware costs, but may require that you sign a one or two year contract. Before signing on the dotted line, do check the terms of cancellation and be aware of special requirements and costs for early cancellation. Look for plans that are flexible and find out if the service provider can offer any type of technical or billing hotline or even basic configuration instructions in English.
The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Frankfurt and New York City at 12:00 pm UTC when daylight saving time is not in effect:
Frankfurt Central European Time Zone: UTC+1 hour CET = 1:00pm
NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 05:00 hour = 7:00am
Frankfurt is on Central European Time and does observe Daylight Savings Time.
Many of the main sightseeing attractions are located within easy walking distance of one another. In fact, the city center can be crossed on foot in less than 30 minutes. The best place to start is north of the Main River at Romerberg, the main square and historical center of the city. There you will find beautiful half-timbered houses and the Romer (City Hall), with its impressive banquet hall. Not far from the square is the Kaiserdom, the towering cathedral where ten German emperors and kings were crowned, and Paulskirche, where the first National Assembly of Germany met in 1848.
The German Architecture Museum is famous for its “house in a house” concept. Upon walking into the 19th-century estate that holds the museum, you’ll come across another house inside. You’ll also find drawings, models, photos, journals and special exhibits that track the history of architecture.
Grosser Hirschgraben 23-25
The house where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany’s leading literary and intellectual figure, was born in 1749 and grew up has been faithfully reproduced and is open for touring. The museum next door has paintings that depict Goethe’s life after Frankfurt (in Weimar and Italy) and works by his contemporaries.
The Church of St. Bartholomew is where ten German emperors and kings were crowned. Its red sandstone facade and Gothic styling make it one of Frankfurt’s most identifiable buildings. It was largely rebuilt after World War II and houses a number of its original Gothic carvings.
Though not the tallest building in Frankfurt, the Main Tower is the only skyscraper open to the public. The top floor houses an observation platform and an upscale restaurant with superb 180-degree views of the city.
This distinctive round church was where the first National Assembly of Germany was held in 1848. Following near destruction in World War II, the church was rebuilt with a modern interior and has been the traditional site for addresses by visiting heads of state. The church is used more as a museum these days, with a rotation of different exhibits.
This unforgettable botanical garden, with more than 300 different kinds of palms, specializes in tropical and subtropical plants, including seasonal exhibitions of flowering plants and shrubs. The scenery can occasionally be enjoyed to the sound of live jazz and classical music, and the park around the gardens has a playground for children, boats for rent and a wading pool.
This city-owned forest (more than 10,000 acres) attracts local people for weekend strolling, but on weekdays the place tends to be deserted. Louisa Park, which is part of the Stadtwald, has three small lakes, walking paths and nice playgrounds for children. Also found in the area is the Goetheturm, Germany’s tallest wooden observation tower (141 feet high). A trip to the top provides superb views north across Frankfurt to the foothills of Taunus.
Alfred Brehm Platz 16
This zoo is one of the most visited in Europe, houses more than 5,000 birds, mammals, reptiles and insects representing almost 600 species. Among the highlights are the Grzimek House, where nocturnal animals think it’s nighttime during the day, and the Exotarium, which is filled with interesting fish, reptiles and insects.
Locals have more than one reason to call this team the “Wonder from Frankfurt”. After Eintracht Frankfurt’s stunning return in 2003 to the first division of Germany’s professional soccer league (Bundesliga), the team was briefly relegated to the second league in 2004. But it managed to make another striking comeback to the first league in 2005 and hopes to become a permanent member of the first division. In a country that is mad about soccer – it is easily the most popular spectator and participatory sport in Germany – attending an Eintracht match is an experience that you won’t want to miss. The team plays in the brand-new Commerzbank Arena, a stadium that was completed in the summer of 2005 in preparation for the 2006 World Cup, which was hosted by Germany.
Thanks to a rule change that allows more foreigners to play, Germany’s professional ice hockey league (DEL) has become the second most competitive in the world – behind only the National Hockey League (NHL) in Canada and the US. With a roster that includes Canadian, Russian, Swede and Czech players, the Lions have performed well in recent years and have thrilled their fans with hard and fast-paced play.
069-978 279 0
When the Frankfurt Galaxy first arrived in Frankfurt in 1991, as part of the European expansion of the U.S. National Football league, skeptics abounded. In the meantime, however, the Galaxy has captured the fancy of the region and its games are regularly sold out, making it the most successful franchise in the NFL European league. The season runs from April to June.
Deutsche Bank Skyliners
069-928 876 19
As the newest member of Frankfurt’s professional sports scene, the Skyliners play in Germany’s first division basketball league. Their home court is the Ballsporthalle in Höchst, which can accommodate up to 4,000 spectators and is frequently sold out.
Städtische Bühnen Frankfurt am Main GmbH
60311 Frankfurt am Main
With a trip to the Frankfurt opera can expect maximum enjoyment from art – they are, after all, in one of the most important and productive opera houses in the world. In the annual voting for ‘Opera House of the Year’ by international critics, the stage has taken top or a very high position on several occasions. This recognition is confirmed by its appeal and the enthusiasm of the public.
Am Romerberg 6-A
The Schirn is the city’s main art gallery for temporary international exhibitions. The exhibits cover a broad range of styles and subjects, but most of them deal with less traditional art. The museum is also notable for its architecturally stunning cafe, complete with a viewing platform overlooking some Roman ruins.
Stadelsches Kunstinstitut and Stadtische Galerie
For true art-lovers, this is the Louvre of Frankfurt. This art institute and its municipal gallery showcase a fine collection of paintings from the 14th-20th centuries, with masterpieces from each period. It also has an extensive collection of impressionist paintings.
Business Hours & Banking
Most banks are open Monday to Friday 9am to either 1 or 3pm. Most other businesses and stores are open Monday to Friday 9 or 10am to either 6 or 6:30pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm. On langer Samstag, the first Saturday of the month, shops stay open until 4 or 6pm. Some stores close late on Thursday (usually 8:30pm).
Currency and Banking
Currency (code) euro (EUR)
Exchange Rate euros per US dollar
Typically, you do not wait to be seated in German restaurants, and it is not uncommon to share a table with strangers. However, most Germans will think it odd if you try to initiate a conversation with them beyond just establishing that the chairs are available.
On the Baltic and North Sea coasts, seafood is the word; clams in dough, fish soups, crayfish pastries, and all kinds of smoked fish, with emphasis on herring and salmon (Lachs). Wild (game) is something else the Germans prepare well, particularly in the forested areas of the south. Venison and boar are always a good bet, as is quail, wild duck and other game birds, with stuffings made of such things as truffles and savoy cabbage.
Electricity outlets: 220 volts – 50 Hz AC. Two-pin standard European plugs will fit all outlets. You will need adapters and transformers.
Electricity rates in Germany are among the highest in Europe. The easiest thing to do is register with your local electricity supplier, but you can also chose from a range of alternate providers. There are often major price differences depending on which company supplies your electricity. Some suppliers offer discount tariffs late at night (Nachttarif) and you can also make ecological choices (such as environmentally-friendly electricity or nuclear!) There are consumer advice centers and websites that provide information on electricity and costs, including www.billig-strom.de , www.stromtarife.de and www.stromtip.de .
International Association for Medical Assistance (IAMAT)
417 Center Street
Lewiston, NY 14092
You can also obtain a list of English-speaking doctors through the worldwide network of IAMAT. IAMAT members receive a city-by-city directory of professionally qualified doctors who speak English or another language in addition to their native language. These doctors have agreed to treat IAMAT members according to a set fee schedule; presently the equivalent of $55 for an office call, $75 for a house call and $95 for a night, Sunday or holiday call. There is no membership fee, but donations are encouraged, join before you leave the U.S.
Housing & Utilities
Most Germans in cities live in various forms of urban housing such as apartments and semi-detached houses. Due to the destruction caused during the two world wars, most of the housing was built after 1950. Old properties (Altbau) usually have been built before 1914, since there was little construction between the wars.
Prices (both for purchase and rent) are determined by the size of a home which is measured in square meters ( Quadratmeter – qm). In rooftop units, floor spaces where the ceiling is between 1 and 2 meters high are only counted at 50 per cent, so the actual size might appear a lot bigger than you thought.
The second factor to bear in mind is the number of rooms, which includes bedrooms, living and dining rooms.
Deutsche Post World Net
At a German post office, you can do a lot more than just mail letters. Anybody who’s been away from Germany for a while will find “Deutsche Post World Net” a shock. That’s the present name for the postal service, a piece of the former government monopoly, Deutsche Bundespost, that went public in 2000. Under the new regime the neighborhood post office is now a sort of one-stop shopping center. It will usually be in a stationery store with a counter where you can buy stamps, mail a package, deposit or withdraw money and apply for a credit card. It will also probably be open more convenient hours than the bureaucratic post offices of old.
U.S. Tax Information
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 920
Bensalem, PA 19020
(215) 516-2000 (not toll-free)
Phone service available from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm (EST) M-F
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office serving Germany is located in Philadelphia, and provides U.S. Federal tax assistance to Americans in Germany. The IRS Home Page, www.irs.gov , has a lot of information available to answer many questions. Go to ‘Individuals’ and then ‘Overseas Taxpayers’ you will find a section of FAQ, which will take you to IRS Publication 54. Many questions of overseas taxpayers can be answered from that source.
For parents new to the Rhein-Main region, finding a school which best suits a child’s needs presents a dilemma between choosing the traditional but inflexible German public school system, or a private but very expensive alternative.
German schools represent more than just an opportunity for your child to learn a second language and experience a foreign culture. Enrolling your child in a German school can aid in the integration of both the child and the parents in the community. What’s more, the public education system is government-subsidized and is therefore tuition free.
In the annual league of top-ranking universities compiled by Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2004, Germany was 4th overall, with 7 universities in the top 100. The highest ranking German university, at number 45, was the Technical University of Munich. Most German universities are state-owned and until recently did not charge for tuition; a 2006 education reform measure calls for fees of around €500 per semester from each student.
At the universities, for many decades a master’s level degree was the first degree available and only the recent higher education reforms, which have introduced two-level programs at both the bachelor’s and master’s level have opened a chance to leave university earlier.