Discovering natural beauty in Frankfurt

Exploring Frankfurt’s lush green belt is good fun all year round, but at no time is it as pleasurable as during the balmy days of Autumn. From the Lohrberg, an elevation slightly north of the city, nature enthusiasts are confronted with a beautiful view of the Frankfurt skyline. Nearby, they’ll find the MainÄppelHaus, an institution established with the aim of protecting local mixed-fruit orchards. Further GreenBelt highlights include unusual objects of comical art, the old Bonames aerodrome, the new skatepark and sound installation in the city’s East End district.

Frankfurt Greenbelt

In 1991, Frankfurt’s city council unanimously agreed to take all necessary steps to both care for and expand the Frankfurt GreenBelt as a protected natural landscape. Today, this beautiful band of green makes up a third of Frankfurt’s urban area, amounting to approximately 80 square kilometres, half of which is forested land. Over the past 15 years, many socially and ecologically sustainable projects have been realised within the Frankfurt GreenBelt, making this natural domain even more important to the city and its inhabitants.

Situated some 185 metres above sea level, the Lohrberg is Frankfurt’s loftiest location and, at the same time, home of the only remaining vineyard within the city districts. Both the Lohrberg and Lohrpark are part of the Frankfurt GreenBelt. The park plays an important role in the city’s ecological scheme for the preservation of nature and the protection of its quality of life. On a culinary note, it is also home to a rustic restaurant, the Lohrberg Schänke. Here, guests have a variety of regional and seasonal dishes to choose from, while also having the opportunity to try Frankfurt’s famous apple wine. The restaurant has been a popular day-trip destination since the 1930s.

The MainÄppelHaus, meanwhile, is both a place of encounters and a learning centre focusing on the subject of field orchards and horticulture in general. The aim of its founders is to preserve field orchards in their natural habitat and to promote “apple culture” as an important part of the region’s identity. A wide variety of apple trees are on show at the park, while freshly pressed apple wine is also on offer. A small farm shop sells wine, marmalade and many other organic products. The MainÄppelHaus is open all year round. The apple trees of the local field orchards, whose preservation and growth are promoted by the MainÄppelHaus, provide the fruit for Frankfurt’s most popular beverage.

Frankfurt-style apple wine is made using a number of apple varieties. Its taste depends in large part on the composition of the apple mash and is generally quite varied. Sometimes, it’s a little sweeter, other times more sour or fruity. The location of the field orchards and the fermentation process play an equally important role in determining the taste of this “golden nectar”, which may be found on offer in the vast majority of Frankfurt’s culinary establishments. A visit of a local tavern serving freshly pressed apple wine is more than worthwhile, giving those unfamiliar with Frankfurt apple wine the chance to become better acquainted with the taste sensation of this unique alcoholic beverage.

Aside from field orchards, visitors of the Frankfurt GreenBelt will also come across a range of unusual artworks nestled amidst Mother Nature. These works of comical art were at one time or another created by artists belonging to the famous “New Frankfurt School”. Today, they may be found strewn throughout the Frankfurt GreenBelt, taking the form of animals, monuments, caricatures and “tree art”. Visitors of the Schwanheim Meadows, for example, will find a figure resembling the famous Shock-Haired Peter. Created by F.K. Waechter, it was placed there in June 2006.

A similarly unusual day-trip destination awaits persons of all ages in Bonames. Formerly a military heliport, the Old Bonames Aerodrome now presents itself as a vast nature reserve. This unexpected transformation was achieved through extensive redesign of the premises and partial removal of the hard surfaces covering the grounds. Fences were torn down and the reserve was made accessible to visitors via a recently constructed bridge across the Nidda River. The tower has been turned into a café-restaurant that serves mostly regional and seasonal dishes. Its interior is home to a large fresh-water aquarium, which features many species of local fish. It was conceived in co-operation with the Department of Environmental Affairs. Participation in various recreational activities, such as inline-skating on the former landing strip, flying kites or picnicking on the spacious meadows, has been made possible thanks to the extensive redesign of the grounds. There’s even a natural labyrinth awaiting adventure-seeking visitors.

Frankfurt Greenbelt

Further along the Frankfurt GreenBelt, one comes to the “Concrete Jungle”, a skatepark established in Frankfurt’s East End district. It was developed with the help of numerous skateboarders, BMX cyclists and inline skaters. Situated on the bank of the River Main and featuring impressive views of the new European Central Bank building, the new 5,500-sq/m skatepark provides ideal preconditions for extreme-sport enthusiasts. Ramps, pipes and bowls of various shapes and sizes invite one and all to try their hand at stunts and tricks. The location is part of the Harbour Park project, which has not yet been completed.

Near the skatepark, locals and visitors have another spectacular attraction waiting for them, a sound installation known as “Sonic Vista”, set on the Deutschherrnbrücke across the River Main. This artwork, created by Sam Auinger and Bruce Odland, two internationally renowned composers and sound artists, celebrated its inauguration in October 2011. Here, two resonance tubes attached to the sides of the bridge transform the sounds of the city into harmonious overtones, which are broadcast across the bridge by way of loudspeakers built into the tubes. The work was conceived with the aim of sharpening the acoustic senses of Frankfurt’s inhabitants.

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