Spending time at home helps me to relax and recharge my batteries – but well, most people feel that way. Still, though, whenever I’m home, I also want to make sure that I see something that I haven’t in a while or even go somewhere new. It seems that it took me moving to a different country to become set on seeing everything I could around my hometown.
Frankfurt always had its very own charm. Largely destroyed during the war, much of the rubble was taken away and skyscrapers put in the place of former residential neighbourhoods. The medieval centre around the Roemerberg was reconstructed, some of it the exact way it was and some of it with artistic freedom and a nod to our modern times. Either way, the city always managed to be conscious of its meaning for Germany. It’s the cradle of our constitution, with the country’s first publicly elected National Assembly meeting there, and some of the greatest museums and collections being housed here. In fact we even named one side of the river Main the ‘museum embankment’ because the institutions are lined up one next to the other along the river. You’re never far from culturally significant places but one of my favourites is and always will be the ‘Palmengarten’. In existence since 1868, Frankfurt’s botanic gardens are an oasis of peace and quiet, nestled inbetween the city’s university campus and financial district with their high towering buildings.
You would never imagine they came into existence out of necessity: when Prussia annexed the city, the Duke of Nassau gave up his collection of exotic plants, handing it over to Heinrich Siesmayer. At the time, he was already known for constructing impressive parks and gardens and now saw the opportunity to follow examples of London and Brussels to create a palace-like structure to house the plants. Due to its location in the city’s affluent, residential neighbourhood, the gardens were largely spared by the wars, with the varying structures still standing, many thanks to extensive restoration efforts.
Today, the area still seems vast once you’re inside; the palm houses showcase almost every kind of climate there is, while the outside areas feature small and large ponds, fountains and anything else you can imagine in a botanic garden – yes, even small paddleboats. My favourite part – as always – is the rose garden, just in front of the palm house.
While we didn’t have time to explore all of the different areas, I greatly enjoyed taking in the variety of plants and the way in which seasonal flowers took over to melt into one gorgeous picture with the changing colours of the trees. Seeing as I went there in October and the temperature in Germany had just dropped to 5 degrees, it was rather quiet and serene, which gave me the opportunity to snap lots of pictures. I have to admit though, that the light changed so fast that I was struggling to get good shots once we reached the aviary. No pictures of the lovely talking cockatoos this time but I’m happy to report one of them said his name was ‘Albert Einstein’.
It’s not surprising that the tagline of the ‘Palmengarten’ is ‘Plants. Life. Culture’. Despite being first and foremost a botanic garden, it offers much more than many of its counterparts I have encountered abroad. At 22 hectars, the gardens and houses alike host events, exhibitions, workshops, and are even available for functions, conferences and weddings; they really let you forget that you are in the middle of a city that is driven 24/7 by financial happenings.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Do you have any favourite botanic gardens or parks?
See you around,
The Palmengarten is located in the heart of the city, close to Goethe University on Palmengartenstrasse. You can take the subways U4, U6 or U7 to Bockenheimer Warte or alternatively take bus 32 / 50 / 75 to the same station. The tram no. 16 also stops close by.
The botanic gardens are open from 9 am to 6 pm during the summer months and until 4 pm during the winter | Admission is 7€ | Children (up to 13) 2€ | Students 3€ | Concessions 6€