City tour on the Ebbelwei Expreß
Travel through the heart of Frankfurt on the Ebbelwei Expreß. History, stories, monuments and memorable sights all lie along the route. We invite you to discover a lively city on a romantic tram.
Have a great trip!
Welcome aboard the Ebbelwei Expreß:
Come and discover our lively city on a historic tram. Enjoy an hour-long tour taking in history, stories, monuments and memorable sights along the way.
We hope you have a great trip!
Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main
Tips on enjoying the audio city tour
The trip on the Ebbelwei Expreß starts at the zoo and the circuit takes you past Frankfurt am Main’s most important sights.
To help you get the most out of the tour, you’ll hear a tone at the start of each audio file, the number of the section and the name of the stop that you’re approaching. We’ll then tell you about the sites that you’ll be seeing on either the left- or the right-hand side of the route. You can shuffle between stops on your MP3 player as you wish provided you have downloaded all the podcast files to your MP3 player in the correct order. You’ll hear another tone at the end of each section. If you hear this before arriving at the next stop, pause your MP3 player and wait until you get there.
Before we start our city tour, we’d first of all like to introduce you to our Ebbelwei Expreß. Trams in Frankfurt are identified by a consecutive series of letters. The latest type of tram is the ‘S’ carriage. The Ebbelwei Expreß is a generation ‘K’ tram and was built between 1949 and 1954 by Duewag/Crede. The carriage is 11.44 metres long, 2.16 metres wide and has room for 22 seated and eight standing passengers. It weighs 13 tonnes and has two 60 kW engines giving it power. VGF has a total of four engine carriages and six trailer carriages in its inventory.
We hope you enjoy your trip through our beautiful city. If the tram has already moved away from the zoo stop, please quickly move on to the next section.
The Frankfurt zoo is the second oldest zoological park in Germany. It was created in 1858 by an action group led by citizens of the city. The zoo was originally located in the Leer’schen Gärten in the city’s Westend district, but in 1874 moved to its current site, Pfingstweiden. After World War I, the zoo was taken over by the city of Frankfurt. During World War II, the zoo was almost completely destroyed. It was rebuilt after the end of the war with the support of animal researcher Bernhard Grzimek, who succeeded in raising the necessary funds.
Today, the Frankfurt zoo is one of the most visited zoological gardens in Europe.
Of particular interest are the Exotarium, the cat jungle, the Bogori forest and the nocturnal-animal house. The nocturnal-animal house is a space artificially made to look as if it’s night-time so that you can observe nocturnal animals during their waking hours.
Go to www.zoo-frankfurt.de for more information.
You’ll find the old Jewish cemetery on the left-hand side between the Allerheiligentor and Börneplatz stops that are just coming up. This is the second oldest Jewish burial ground in Germany and was used as such until 1828.
A total of 5,500 gravestones have been counted both above and below the ground. These date back as far as 1272. On the cemetery wall, there are 11,134 small plaques commemorating the Jewish citizens of Frankfurt who were murdered during the Holocaust.
At the end of the 1980s, the foundations of five houses in Judengasse and the Börneplatz synagogue were uncovered when building a new administrative centre for Frankfurt’s public utility company. Some of these walls and archaeological treasures were saved, and in 1992 the Judengasse Museum opened in the basement of the administrative building. The Judengasse Museum is a subsidiary of Frankfurt’s Jewish Museum. It’s located on the left-hand side at Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse 10 Here, as already explained, you’ll find archaeological relics from Frankfurt’s Judengasse shown as part of an exhibition on the history of the Jewish community since the 15th century, everyday life in the street and the history of Börneplatz since the 19th century.
Börneplatz was historically the site of the Börneplatz synagogue. This was built from 1881–1882 on the site of the Fremdenhospital that was constructed at the southern end of the former Judengasse in 1780. The synagogue was opened on 10 September 1882. The Börneplatz synagogue was one of four major synagogues in Frankfurt used by the orthodox wing of the community as their religious centre. It was set on fire by the National Socialists during the November Pogroms of 1938 and was completely destroyed apart from the external walls. The remains of the synagogue were torn down immediately afterwards.
Reconstruction of the area around Börneplatz that was completely destroyed in World War II began in 1952, but the former Börnestrasse was not rebuilt. Instead, a wide street was created, Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse, which is where VGF’s administrative building is now located.
At the Börneplatz stop, you can look to the right towards Konstablerwache and Zeil. Zeil was built in 1330 and is the most famous shopping street in Frankfurt. Today this 1,100-metre-long and 40-metre-wide pedestrian zone is one of the busiest shopping miles in Germany. The name ‘Zeil’ comes from the way in which the buildings are built very closely to one another in a way that looks like a row, or ‘Zeile’, of books. We’ll be travelling parallel to this shopping street between Börneplatz and Römer, where you can also catch a glimpse of Zeil to your right.
Museum für Moderne Kunst
You’ll now see the Museum für Moderne Kunst (museum for modern art) on your right-hand side, or the ‘piece of cake’ as it’s called by the locals. This striking triangular building with its unconventional interior puts on temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. The way the building has been constructed means that you can view all the paintings in natural light when the weather is good. The building was designed by Viennese architect Hans Hollein and opened in 1991. The Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt features works by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys and James Turrell.
Look to your left at the next junction and you’ll see the cathedral, built on Cathedral Hill. This was the centre of the first settlement in Frankfurt during the Bronze Age. Strictly speaking, this former collegiate and parish church is not a cathedral as Frankfurt has never had its own bishop. The church was, however, designated a cathedral back in the Middle Ages so that it could be used for coronations. This is where German kings were crowned from 1356 onwards and where German emperors were crowned between 1562 and 1792.
On the left-hand side is the Römerberg. This has been Frankfurt’s most prestigious square for centuries, known by the locals as the ‘Gudd Stubb’. In the middle of the square is the Fountain of Justice, which was originally erected in 1543 to symbolise traders’ right to hold a market on the site and which has often been rebuilt. Since 1887 the bronze ‘Justitia’ with her sword and scales has adorned the fountain. Römerberg is also where the famous Christmas market takes place in front of the reconstructed half-timbered houses.
The ‘Römer’, the old city hall that currently houses the municipal authority, is a group of 11 town houses on the western side of Römerberg. The centrepiece of the site and emblem of Frankfurt is the collection of three Gothic stepped-gable houses called ‘Zum Römer’, ‘Alt-Limpurg’ and ‘Löwenstein’ that were converted in 1405 to create the city hall.
‘Römer’ is understood figuratively to mean the city authorities. The first imperial staircase built in 1405 is now used as the entrance staircase to the registry office’s wedding suite.
St. Paul’s Church
On the right is St. Paul’s Church. This is built in the shape of an elliptical rotunda in neoclassical style. The church was where the pre-parliament and the Frankfurt National Assembly met in 1848–1849. The National Assembly was Germany’s first representative body that was freely elected by the people.
The interior of St. Paul’s Church was gutted by fire in 1944 and only reopened on 18 May 1948. St. Paul’s Church is seen as a symbol of freedom and democracy and is no longer used as a church. Nowadays it is used as a meeting place for special events and ceremonies, such as the German book trade’s peace awards ceremony held during the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Willy-Brandt-Platz lies within the banking district adjacent to the ramparts of Frankfurt. The ramparts form a ring-like park around the inner city of Frankfurt am Main. They were created at the beginning of the 19th century on the grounds of Frankfurt’s former city fortifications. The Frankfurt ‘Anlagenring’ runs around the ramparts. The ramparts are divided into seven sections, most of which bear the names of the former city gates. These are the Untermain, the Gallus, the Taunus, the Bockenheimer, the Eschenheimer, the Friedberger and the Obermain sections.
Willy-Brandt-Platz and the Städtische Bühnen are located along the Untermain section.
The Städtische Bühnen are on the left-hand side of Willy-Brandt-Platz, previously known as Theaterplatz. This new building was constructed between 1951 and 1963. The Städtische Bühnen house Frankfurt’s municipal theatre companies, which are the largest in the state of Hessen. They are divided into the opera house, which seats 1,400, the 700-seat theatre and the 200-seat playhouse.
The Frankfurt opera was named opera house of the year in 1995 and 2003 by the magazine ‘Opernwelt’.
Frankfurt’s ‘Fairy-Tale Fountain’
In front of the Städtische Bühnen is the Märchenbrunnen (‘Fairy-Tale Fountain’), an art nouveau fountain by Ernst Friedrich Hausmann that was completed in 1910. The bronze figures at the base of the eight-metre-high fountain were melted down during World War II and only reconstructed in 2006 using photographs from the 1920s.