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Trade Fairs in Frankfurt

Frankfurt am Main is not only known as the European financial metropolis. The city is also one of the most important trade fair locations in Germany. Visitors and exhibitors alike appreciate the size of the exhibition grounds, in addition to Frankfurt's large international airport, the Autobahn and a sophisticated public transport network. Worldwide, only the exhibition grounds in Hanover, Germany are bigger than those in Frankfurt am Main.

Trade Fairs in Frankfurt Outdoor Panorama

History of Trade Fairs in Frankfurt am Main
The first mention of the Frankfurt Trade Fair is in 1150, when the fairs took place in and around the Roemer marketplace in Frankfurt. During trade fairs in the middle ages, all the guesthouses in Frankfurt were booked, many trade fair guests were accommodated in private houses. While most stands were erected outside the Roemer building, goldsmiths and silversmiths as well as jewelers were given the most exclusive location: they were allowed to build their stands inside the Roemer for better protection of their precious goods. To read more about the Roemer, read our earlier article Deciphering the Roemer in Frankfurt am Main.

Thanks to Frankfurt's geographical location at the crossroads of important long-distance trade routes from and to Lyon, Venice, Antwerp, and Lübeck, the city was the hub of the flow of goods and meeting place for people from all over the world, together with the river Main as a favorable transport route. Everything was traded; from cloths and ceramics to books, cattle and more.

A special status was achieved by the privilege of Emperor Frederick II, who gave the fair visitors the full range of escorts during their return trip starting in the year 1240. Even during their stay in the city their security was ensured. The sequence during the fair weeks was roughly divided into four parts: the escorted arrival week, the actual business week, the week of payments and final dealmaking, and finally the departure week. In 1337, Emperor Ludwig granted the city of Frankfurt the privilege that no other fair could be erected throughout the Lands that could harm the Frankfurt fair in any way.

Messeturm, or Trade Fair Tower in Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt Trade Fair Landmarks
The most prominent building and also one of the highest skyscrapers in Frankfurt is the Messeturm - trade fair tower - with an altitude of 256.5 meters (841.5 feet) and a total of 54 floors. The Messeturm is, however, outside the trade fair grounds and is usually not used for trade fair events. Architecturally, its form stands out, which is why he is also called "pencil" by the people of Frankfurt.

The Hammering Man Sculpture by Jonathan Borosfsky, near the Messeturm in Frankfurt am Main

In front of the Messeturm you will find a large, black sculpture by the American artist Jonathan Borofsky called The Hammering Man. The black silhouette shows a worker who moves a hammer against a symbolic workpiece. This sculpture is meant to be a symbol of solidarity for all working people and can be found in various versions all around the world. The statue in Frankfurt am Main weighs 32 tons and was installed in 1991 for the “Art Frankfurt” trade show. This fair for modern art started in 1989 and was canceled due to lack of demand in 2007. The Hammering Man remained.

Today, the fairs in Frankfurt attract more than 1.5 million visitors every year. Every year, the world's largest book fair, Buchmesse takes place here, and the International Automobile Exhibition (IAA) is held every two years in Frankfurt. Most major car brands show all their models in various halls and my dad and I visit every time. This is what the halls look like inside during the International Automobile Exhibition (IAA).

2017 International Automobile Exhibition Festival Halls in Frankfurt am Main

People mover at 2017 International Automobile Exhibition Festival Halls in Frankfurt am Main

Skylights at the 2017 International Automobile Exhibition Festival Halls in Frankfurt am Main

2017 International Automobile Exhibition Festival Halls in Frankfurt am Main

Festhalle in Frankfurt am Main
My favorite hall is the Festhalle, Festival Hall, built in 1907, and also the historic center of the trade fair grounds. It can hold up to 13,500 visitors unseated and is home to concerts, sporting events and Mercedes-Benz during the International Motor Show (IAA) every other year in September. The mixture of tradition and modernity is particularly evident during that time. You see old window panes and historic architecture meet the modern interpretation of beautiful cars by Mercedes-Benz. They also add a lot of light effects, that change every couple of minutes.

2017 International Automobile Exhibition Festhalle in Frankfurt am Main

2017 International Automobile Exhibition Festhalle in Frankfurt am Main

With a total of 11 exhibition halls, the exhibition grounds in Frankfurt offer space for all conceivable topics. Check out this video from Messe Frankfurt to see the whole trade fair grounds. Currently they are working on hall #12 which will be finished in the fall of 2018.

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The Most Beloved Bridge in Frankfurt am Main

The most beloved bridge in Frankfurt am Main, the Eiserner Steg! Its pedestrian only and offers a perfect view of the 'Mainhatten' skyline.
Frankfurt am Main is a strong, logical city largely due to the generosity and foresight of its own citizens. They’re a self-reliant group. In 1867, weary of the long, roundabout trek with an out of the way bridge in order to cross from downtown to the neighborhood across the river to Sachsenhausen, a group collected money to build the Eiserner Steg, Iron Bridge. After two years of construction, the bridge was open. There was a toll of one Kreuzer until 1885 when the city of Frankfurt took over management of the bridge. The bridge was replaced and enlarged in 1912, but then completely destroyed during World War II. By 1946 the bridge was rebuilt, and recently renovated in 1993.

The view of the Frankfurt am Main, ‘Mainhattan’ skyline is a beautiful sight from the Eiserner Steg, and while it is pedestrian-only, it's the most beloved bridge in Frankfurt.

The Eiserner Steg bridge is pedestrian only and offers this perfect view of the Frankfurt 'Mainhatten' skyline

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Where to Find Modern Art in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Modern art lovers rejoice! You’re going to love Frankfurt am Main, Germany! You have great choices for seeing modern and contemporary art and I have three recommendations to help you start planning your modern art escapades in Frankfurt.

Museum für Moderne Kunst designed by Hans Hollein | Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Museum fuer Moderne Kunst (MMK for short)
The design of this building reminds me of a cat meme, ‘If I fits, I sits’. In 1983, Hans Hollein’s slice of cake-looking design won first prize for the architecture competition for Frankfurt’s newest museum. Hollein fully utilized the space and leaves the visitor guessing how the inside of the museum will work. There are different routes and levels, all the while you can peek over at other spaces. The exhibit spaces are very photogenic. No surprise, there was a family and a professional photographer using the staircase as a backdrop for their family photos. It’s that cool inside.

The Museum fuer Moderne Kunst permanent collection is from the 1960s until present day, and includes all mediums including photography. They have ongoing efforts to digitze their collection, and you can view their hard work here:

Important to Know Before You Go
The entire permanent collection is not on view all the time, due to space constraints. If you’re there for one artist only or one piece only, its best to call or email ahead of time to find out if its on the floor. We looked from top to bottom for the 57 Penguin piece, only to find out after fruitless searching that it wasn’t currently out.

Schirn Kunsthalle | Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Schirn Kunsthalle
The modern looking Schirn Kunsthalle building is hiding down a narrow alleyway off the Roemerberg. The entry foyer is minimalistic and stark, with LED directional signage lighting. There’s no permanent collection, the museum is completely dependent on the temporary exhibits they run. When temporary exhibits are your livelihood, it's imperative to be newsworthy and unique. They’re very progressive and creative with their topics. While we were there, they had a Vienna Woodcut Exhibition, the first of its kind running. The Schirn smartly spent part of the exhibit space showing the original blocks and explaining the process of Woodcutting alongside the pieces.

I’m personally agonizing that the exhibit Splendor and Misery in the Weimar Republic starts the month after our trip. Its running from October 27-February 25, 2018. If you go, please tell me all about it! I’m already contemplating how I can get my hands on an exhibition catalog.

Important To Know Before You Go
The museum staff is super strict about bags and coats going into the exhibition rooms. There’s an airport-style bag size tester for you to check and see if your belongings are too big, and a security guard in place to enforce it. The signage is bilingual, German and English.

Staedel Museum
Can I write an art museum post about Frankfurt, and NOT include the Staedel Museum? No way! The Staedel Museum also the entire lower floor dedicated to modern art. If you missed my article about the Staedel, it was the 13th post I ever wrote for this blog so I don’t blame you, I’ll fill you in about what you need to know about the Staedel here.

How the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt Stole My Heart | Photo Copyright Städel Museum

Photo Copyright Städel Museum

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