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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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A Sculpture Museum That Will Change Your Mind About Sculpture

A Sculpture Museum That Will Change Your Mind About Sculpture | Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

When visiting the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, you feel as if you’re visiting a noble German uncle that you’ve heard so much about. Along the river Main in Frankfurt, Germany, the museums are lined up neatly in a row. Most were obviously homes at one time. Through an iron gate, you walk along what was once a driveway towards a ‘villa’, what to me seems like a mansion, but ok. In such a big city as Frankfurt, there is a surprising expanse of green grass and landscaping in front. There are outdoor sculptures nestled amongst the trees and shady areas of the yard, distracting the visitor from the front door.

Gründerzeit Architecture
The museum building is a work of art as well. The villa was designed by Munich architect Leonhard Romeis between 1892 and 1896 for the textile manufacturer Heinrich Baron von Liebieg (where Liebieghaus gets its name). The architecture style is called Gründerzeit, which translates to Founder’s Period. During that time, urban housing in Austria and Germany was booming, and entire streets of town homes were being built four to six stories high. Historic periods such as Classical, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque were all being emulated and blended together as part of the larger Historicism movement of the era. In the Liebieghaus in particular, the architect Romeis blended South Tyrolean and the Bamberg Renaissance, and various other styles. What better stage to curate a sculpture museum that covers 5,000 years of history, from Ancient Egypt to Neoclassical than in a villa that was lovingly designed to honor those periods. It's a happy synergy.

Interior of the Liebieghaus museum, a villa designed by Munich architect Leonhard Romeis between 1892 and 1896 for the textile manufacturer Heinrich Baron von Liebieg.

Don’t Repeat My Mistake
I tend to overlook sculptures when I’m in an art museum, so I dismissed visiting the Liebieghaus, an art museum dedicated solely to sculpture, in Frankfurt am Main for years. Over time though, repeatedly the Liebieghaus would come to my attention, either in rave reviews of guide books or from Frankfurt natives. All reports declared that it was exemplary and not to be missed. Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me. I was admittedly starting to feel guilty after I’ve visited neighboring Staedel Museum five-six times in the interim! You can read How the Staedel Museum Stole My Heart here if you're curious.

Now, I’m going to be another voice singing the praises of this museum.

Maria Immaculata by Matthias Steinl at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Why? Maybe it's because with only sculptures on display it's easier to absorb them without being distracted by paintings on the wall. Perhaps the dramatic wall colors and high contrast lighting really brings the sculptures to life? In an art museum with both paintings and sculptures it's hard to light both mediums dynamically.

The Adoring Angel by Franz Ignaz Günther at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Regardless, I wasn’t bored, and neither was Sebastian. The museum is the right size, cozy yet grandiose, and you can see a majority of the collection in one visit. The signage is predominately bilingual, German and English, which helps so much. If there’s a special exhibition currently running, be sure to check out the exhibit’s Digitorial online to learn more about what you’ll see. For example, this is what is currently running, Between Definite and Dubious.

Gods in Color
The Liebieghaus collection is the proud parent to a traveling exhibit that has been touring museums all over the world for fifteen years. It dispels the commonly-held belief that classical sculpture from Ancient Greece and Rome have always been white marble. Science and extremely lucky archaeological discoveries have been able to prove otherwise, and the Liebieghaus has gone to such lengths as to present actual-size reproductions in the ‘original color format’ next to the surviving, authentic pieces as part of the museum's permanent collection.. Wow are they bright! It's shocking to see! Here’s the museum’s Digitorial about the exhibit Gods in Color.

Neoclassical Ariadne on the Panther
I’m a cat person. Undeniably my jaw dropped when I saw Ariadne on the Panther. Arguably the most famous and celebrated sculpture in Frankfurt is the Neoclassicist Johann Heinrich Dannecker’s Ariadne on the Panther, a visual play of beauty and mankind conquering wild nature. The Liebieghaus shared the history and restoration of this beloved piece on their blog, The Ariadne File.

Johann Heinrich Dannecker's Ariadne on the Panther in the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Ancient Egypt
I was most excited to see the collection from ancient Egypt, and it lived up to my anticipation. I loved how the museum positioned the mummy lids so that you can see inside the lids as well as the exterior.

Egyptian Antiquities Collection at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

I didn’t expect to see paintings on wood panels from that time period. It's a marvel that such fragile materials survive for so long! During Greek and Roman rule in Egypt, mummy burial customs adapted the ancient Greek painting style into an additional element, a painted portrait on wood panel of the deceased enclosed with the body.

Wood Panel Mummy Portrait at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

One More Thing
You have to see the conservation and restoration workshop video posted by the museum, it's incredible, and has English subtitles!


Have You Been To the Liebieghaus? Have you ever put off a museum only to regret not seeing it sooner when the time came? Let us know in the comments.

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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler