Postcard from Frankfurt, Germany: Impressions prior to following in Goethe’s path

Above: Detail on Rathaus, City Hall, on Romerberg Plaza

Pristine. Perfect condition. How could ancient medieval buildings in the the historic center of Frankfurt am Main possibly look this good? Their appearance is particularly amazing in the midst of so many mid-century structures.

The answer lies in the tenacity of the people in this region. Below is how the plaza appeared following the arrival of Allied troops as World War II drew to its costly close.

Rathaus at the center of photo of Romerberg Plaza, 1944, Columbia University Collection

Rather than demolishing the proud heritage their landmarks represented, Frankfurters chose to painstakingly rebuild many of them. And they are handsome. The city’s influx of skyscrapers is accommodated at a respectable distance so as not to interfere.

Among the immediate structures that needed post-war reconstruction were the city’s principal bridges across the Main River. Today they accommodate a mixture of pedestrian, bicycle and automobile traffic, with the river’s banks defined by recreational trails on both sides.

Our time in Frankfurt was superficially brief. Lufthansa now has a direct flight from Austin to there, and we decided to stop for two nights before flying southward.

Frankfurt is the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), a bust of whom is at the center of one of the plazas pictured above. In 1786, abruptly departing his mistress at the time, Goethe headed to Italy.

In a way, we were like Goethe, except the abandoning the partner part. We had traveled often in Italy, but never to Sicily.

In 1787 Goethe wrote:

To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.

Our stay in Goethe’s hometown was brief, but several postcards are scheduled for delivery before the blog transports you to Sicily.

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