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Among European cities, Frankfurt would not probably be high on a first choice list for photographers. Consider the competition, London, Paris, Rome and many more. The city itself was extensively bombed during World War II and little original remains. From the destruction, however, Frankfurt re-invented itself as a financial capital, First of the re-emerging West Germany then in more recent years as the epicenter of the EU’s financial dealings. With money comes modern skyscrapers, and it is these, the compact city center and the River Main running through it that make the city an appealing destination for photographers. Today we are going to take a look at some of the photogenic locations in Frankfurt.
Getting To Frankfurt
Situated at the heart of Germany and Western Europe, Frankfurt has superb connections from pretty much anywhere in the world. Its airport is a global hub and one of the busiest in the world. Trains and buses arrive from all over Europe at its Central Station on the western edge of the city center.
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What to Shoot
The primary focus for most photographers visiting Frankfurt will be the modern architecture. City skyline images are best shot from the southern bank of the River Main. With the river running more or less east to west, the main financial district is well suited for shots both morning and evening.
For dawn and early morning shots, a walk across the Friedensbrücke bridge and a stroll eastwards along the river can yield some great shots. In summer this is the time that river cruise boats pass or dock in the city. These long, low vessels can add an interesting contrast to the city skyline.
The next bridge east is Holbeinsteg, a modern, interesting pedestrian bridge that can be used to frame the skyline of the financial district. In the early morning, the soft golden light can make the tall modern buildings look quite spectacular.
For evening and nighttime shots of the skyline its best to head further east along the River Main. One of the more favored locations here Ignatz-Bubis-Brucke. This road bridge affords great views of the city skyline with the sun setting behind it. It is also excellent blue hour shots. From this vantage point, you will need a moderate to long telephoto to pull in the skyline. An added bonus is that you can include the more ornate Alte Brucke in the foreground. This provides an interesting contrast of old and new.
To get up close and personal with the modern financial architecture head to Willy-Brandt-Platz. This is best in the late afternoon or early evening. Situated at the southern end of the main cluster of financial buildings it features a huge monument to the Euro. Shaped in the form of the currency symbol. it is called, imaginatively, Euro-Skulptur. In the afternoons, you can get deep blue skies when using a polarizer from this location. As the evening kicks in and blue hour falls the lights of the building and indeed the Euro-Skulptur come on and make for some excellent low light shots.
Further close and abstract shots of the modern architecture can be made from Gallusanlage Park which runs along the western edge of the district.
Apart from the financial district, there are a few other interesting locations for photographers in Frankfurt. The pretty Opernplatz features the very ornate Alte Opera 19th Century concert hall which also features a very beautiful fountain in front of it. Strangely this is offset by large garish pink water pipes running elevated along the western edge of the square.
Romerberg is the heart of what used to the old medieval center of the city and was largely destroyed. It has since been rebuilt to recreate the original with a row of ornate houses on the eastern side of the square and largely authentic city hall (Rathaus) to the west.
Returning to modern architecture, further east along the River Main and standing on its own is the new, European Central Bank building. This vast monolith towers over the largest low-level surroundings. Again is the best shot from the southern side of the River Main
My trip to Frankfurt was primarily to shoot the architecture of the financial district for stock images and video. I would not personally choose it as a sole destination for photography. However, in the surrounding countryside, there are many other more ornate and photogenic towns to visit. However, if you enjoy shooting modern architecture and skyscrapers, Frankfurt is one of the few cities in Europe that has a dramatic modern skyline reminiscent of the major US and Asian financial centers.