Ten days in Frankfurt – Culture, Wine and Wonderful Times
After my return from Switzerland, I have been enjoying the sights and sounds of Germany. Today I am going to take in some art and culture and I stroll down to the ‘museum bank’, a street adjoining the River Main.
The Liebieghaus Museum, opened to the public since 1909, is known to be one of the world’s most important sculpture museums and is housed in a beautiful villa, once owned by a textile manufacturer Heinrich Baron von Liebieg. This amazingly fascinating museum is a maze of sculptures and statues from Ancient Egypt to neoclassicism spanning five millennia.
As I stroll through each room, I am captivated by the intricacies in such ancient art form. From the pink granite statue of King Alexander the Great to the incomparable marble statue of Athena done by sculptor Myron are just some of the amazing pieces on display. Across continents, from Egypt, Greece and Rome, I venture into the Middle Ages where the Liebieghaus collection comprises objects of art spanning 800 years, many of which are from the Christian era originally used to adorn church interiors. The section on Renaissance to Rococo displays pieces from the 15th and 16th centuries with fine examples of the Apollo Belvedere by sculptor Antico, the Black Venus by Barthelemy Prieur, Maria Immaculata by Matthias Steinl, and Jacob Wrestling with the Angel by Andrea Brustolon. I wander into Neo-Classicism and stumble upon a beautiful piece by Johann Heinrich von Dannecker, Ariadne on the Panther. This classical Greek piece is simply outstanding.
A glance at the time jolts me back to the 21st century. It’s time to move on. I reluctantly step out into the cold and hurry down the road to the Stadel Museum.
This is the oldest museum in Germany and has some of the finest and the world’s most important art collections. With over 3000 paintings, 600 sculptures, over 100,000 drawings and prints and 500 photographs, the entire collection spans several hundred years of art history. I start from the very beginning and for the next couple of hours I am lost in the colours and awesomeness of world famous artists.
Artists from the Old Master’s collection from the 1300 – 1800 include greats like Jan van Eyck, Mantegna, Botticelli, Chardin and Rembrandt etc. The Modern Art collection (1800 – 1945) encompasses beautiful pieces by Manet, Renoir, Monet, Picasso, and Marc along with masterworks of Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism and Expressionism. Finally, I wander through 1945 to the present taking in a wide range of art from Germany and the rest of Europe. Each room is painted in vivid colours that further accentuate the paintings as art lovers and students wander through these rooms quietly, mesmerized by such greatness and talent.
The temperature goes down below zero. Yet, the night is clear and together with my wonderful host, head down to the closest Christmas Market, also known as the Weihnachtsmarkt, which is associated during the four weeks of Advent. Despite the cold night, the place is crowded and I am amazed at the camaraderie in this outdoor street market. Stalls sell sausages, cheeses, wines and souvenirs and the famed Blu Wine Stalls are obviously the most popular. I knock down a couple and feel as if I’m back in the tropics!
A special surprise. Tonight we are off to see the legendary country singer and song writer Kris Kristofferson live, in concert. The Jahrhunderthalle Arena is packed to capacity with die-hard fans dressed like cowboys and country singers and for the next two hours Kristofferson keeps his fans mesmerized with old-time favourites like Me and Bobby McGee, Help Me Make It Through the Night, Why Me Lord, Sunday Mornin’ Comin Down and many more. His amazing voice is still strong and captivating. We listened to his songs again and again on the car radio, singing lustily all the way home!
It’s time to hit the road again and we are off to Osnabrück, 300kms in the direction of Bremen. This typical Lower Saxon city’s history dates back to 780 when the Emperor Charlemagne founded a mission on the banks of the River Hase. In 1002, the Bishop of Osnabrück was granted a charter to hold a market, mint coins and collect customs dues. From 1412 to 1669, this city developed as a member of the Hanseatic League into a cultural and commercial centre open to the world. Osnabrück is also the place where the 30-Years War ended during which most of the city was destroyed in Word War 11.
We check in to the Advent Hotel, rest awhile and then head off to a rustic traditional pub/brewery called the Rampendahl. Back then, this brewery was used by disgruntled citizens who gathered here to plot against the elite council which comprised of wealthy merchants. Eventually, the leaders of this rebellion were executed.
That was decades ago and tonight we gather around to enjoy the beer and buffet, both legendary and satisfying. Many hours, pints and pork schnitzel’s later, we stumble back to the Advent on this cold clear German night.
Back in Frankfurt, the weather stays cold, yet wonderfully clear. On the tenth day, I wake up to a city that is covered in snow! The weather has dipped to -5. I am ready to get back on the plane and head home where the sun awaits to warm my frosted toes.
Auf wiedersehen Frankfurt.