Sky-high in Frankfurt am Main
Monday 8, April 2013
Frankfurt’s many high-rises combine to form Europe’s most impressive skyline. No other place on the continent has so many skyscrapers nestled together in such a small space.
On 25th and 26th May 2013, visitors of the famous Skyscraper Festival will have the chance to get a closer look at these behemoths of the skies while at the same time being offered magnificent views of Frankfurt and its surrounding region. Many other attractions on show at these high-rises as well as a colourful variety of open-air events help to lure visitors to Frankfurt all year round.
Starting at 7:00 am on 24th April, fans of high-rise architecture will be able to book free tickets to the Skyscraper Festival at www.ffh.de. It will pay to act quickly, as the tickets are traditionally in very high demand. Up to four tickets are bookable per person, individual selection depending on availability. The names of accompanying persons must be specified at the time of booking. Children under the age of six, if accompanied by a parent, do not require tickets. A ticket grants its holder admission to a particular high-rise at a predetermined time and on a predetermined date. Shipping and handling of the tickets is expected to take a maximum of three weeks.
On 25th and 26th May, the 18th Skyscraper Festival will once again be taking place in Frankfurt. Participating high-rises include the following: Having been fully refurbished between 2007 and 2011, the twin towers of Deutsche Bank now feature the highest standards of sustainability. The Commerzbank Tower, designed by Sir Norman Forster, is one of Frankfurt’s most impressive high-rises. It is also home to a light installation created by Thomas Emde. Westend 1, meanwhile, serves as the headquarters of DZ BANK, while the Main Tower is home to the headquarters of the State Bank of Hessen, the sky-high Main Tower Restaurant & Lounge and a publically accessible rooftop observation platform, situated some 200 metres above Frankfurt’s city streets. The platform is open to visitors all year round. Set next to a neoclassical villa, the Skyper high-rise juxtaposes old and new. The industrial union, IG Metall, has some of its offices at the main_forum. Yet another light installation may be found in the Gallileo, this one created by the famous light artist, James Turrell, and spanning two storeys. The Jumeirah Hotel, meanwhile, is one of the city’s premier accommodation establishments, guaranteeing travellers a most luxurious stay. The upper storeys of Torhaus Messe Frankfurt offer visitors unusual views of the skyline. ING DiBa will soon be moving its German headquarters to the LEO. The Silberturm, seat of Deutsche Bahn, was a shooting location for the 1984 film, “Abwärts”. Tower 185, where PricewaterhouseCoopers has its offices, is one of the city’s newest skyscrapers. The staff of the European Central Bank will only be working at the Eurotower for another year, with the ECB’s new headquarters in the city’s “Ostend” district scheduled for completion in 2014. The Trianon, meanwhile, is home to the main office of Deka Bank. It is at the same time Germany’s sixth-tallest building. The Opernturm, right next door to Alte Oper, was designed by the renowned Frankfurt architect, Christoph Mäckler. The Eurotheum is home to INNSIDE Frankfurt, an elegant hotel featuring an cosy bar, a first-class restaurant, numerous conference and congress rooms as well as some 74 guest-rooms of sizes varying between 35 and 75 square metres. Locals refer to the famous Messeturm – one of Frankfurt’s premier landmarks – as “the pencil”. Its designer, the celebrated Chicago-based architect, Helmut Jahn, was said to have been inspired by the art deco-style American skyscrapers of the early 20th century. The WestendGate, a stylish hotel belonging to the Marriott Group, features 588 guest-rooms. A final and somewhat surprising participant in the 2013 Skyscraper Festival is Eschenheimer Turm, which was erected at the beginning of the 15th century, yet has somehow managed to remain in almost original condition to this day.
All of the aforementioned buildings are open to holders of the appropriate tickets during the duration of the festival. Those who prefer to have their feet on solid ground or were unable to secure one of the approximately 80,000 tickets have a comprehensive fringe programme to look forward to, organised by the initiators of the event, which include the private radio station, HIT RADIO FFH, the State Bank of Hessen-Thuringia (Helaba) and the two daily newspapers, Frankfurter Neue Presse and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
There will be plenty of exciting attractions on show along the 5-km-long skyscraper route, which runs from the LEO high-rise in the city’s west to the heart of Frankfurt’s financial district. Numerous cranes, bucket lifts and other hydraulic platforms will be aiding visitors in ascending to loftier heights. One of the sky-high attractions will feature football players “kicking it vertically” on a building façade, with airborne fans looking on. Elsewhere, base-jumpers will be parachuting from various buildings, while the Frankfurt Police Department’s SWAT team, the state’s Airborne Police Squadron and the fire department’s high-level rescue team will be putting their skills on display on and around some of the participating high-rises. Yet another highlight promises to be the performance of the “Castellers de Vilafranca”, a 150-strong group of Spaniards specialising in human pyramids, also known as “castells”. On the nearby Tower 185, Reinhard Kleidel, a professional athlete from Switzerland, will be attempting to set a new world record: He’ll be taking his high-wire act to a height of 185 metres, where he will be traversing the 30-metre distance between two skyscrapers on a 2.5-cm-wide slack-line wire. In other entertainment news, Nena, the famous German 1980s singing star (“99 Luftballons”), will be performing at Opera Square on Saturday evening, followed by a massive fireworks display. Details and further programme information are available at www.wolkenkratzer-festival.de.
Free Skyscraper Festival tours held by tour guides of the Frankfurt Tourist+Congress Board (TCF) will also be available during the event. Tours start at the Euro Monument at Willy-Brandt-Platz on both the 25th and 26th of May and finish in front of Alte Oper, the city’s old opera house. Held hourly between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, these special tours aim to inform architecture enthusiasts on everything there is to know about Frankfurt’s many skyscrapers.
A few of the high-rises taking part in the Skyscraper Festival are open to the public all year round. The observation platform atop the MAIN TOWER, situated some 200 metres above Frankfurt’s city streets, offers visitors spectacular views of the city and its environs. For sky-high cocktails and snacks, go to the Maintower Bar or the 22nd Lounge in the Eurotheum. Art and culture are on show at the Deutsche Bank towers, home to some 1,500 paintings and photographs. This international collection is on public display on the first Monday of every month. Tours are held at 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm and are free of charge. Advance registration is requested. The Gallileo Tower, home of the Commerzbank, also has its own art collection, accessible to the general public in irregular intervals. Tours of the headquarters of the Commerzbank are available free of charge on the last Saturday of every month. Held every hour between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm, these tours focus on the building’s architectural particularities. Guided tours of the Helaba’s collection of contemporary art may be arranged upon prior request. The “Frankfurt Staircase” and a video installation by the American artist, Bill Viola, are on permanent public display in the foyer of the MAIN TOWER.
Aside from the Skyscraper Festival, the City of Frankfurt am Main organises many other open-air events. The festival season traditionally begins with the Spring Dippemess. This tune-honoured Frankfurt folk fair is followed by the “Wäldchestag” forest festival, held in Frankfurt’s city forest from 18th to 21st May. The Opera Square Festival, taking place from 26th June to 05th July, is particularly interesting to lovers of fine food and wine. This year’s Main Festival, a historical fair celebrating the River Main, will be held on the Römerberg and down at the Main Quay from 02nd to 05th August. Then, from 09th to 18th August, Frankfurt locals will celebrate their beverage of choice with the Apple Wine Festival at the Rossmarkt. The Museum Embankment Festival, taking place from 23rd to 25th August, annually attracts over three million visitors to the banks of the River Main with an offer range featuring art, culture, music and cuisine. To sample the region’s best vintages, wine aficionados are urged to head to the Rheingau Wine Market, held in Frankfurt from 28th August to 06th September. This culinary festival is followed by the Autumn Dippemess, taking place from 06th to 16th September and featuring countless high-tech rides. The year ends with one of the region’s favourite festivals, the Frankfurt Christmas Market, which brings a truly festive atmosphere to the city centre from 27th November to 22nd December.
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