Sunday 10 April 2016

Frankfurt City-Center Ring Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7.2 km (4.5 miles), terrain: flat

If you want to run in Frankfurt, Germany, this is a route where you can't go wrong. It circles the city center along the chain of narrow parkland that now replaces the medieval town walls on three sides, plus follows the riverside promenade on the fourth side.

There is plenty of variety in the scenery, with ponds, fountains, classical buildings, skyscrapers, riverboats, bridges to cross. I think you'll find it a fun and memorable run.
Fiddler at the Old Opera House
And to get some extra touristic scenery included, we'll start and end at the medieval architectural jewels in the old town: at St. Pauls church and the Römer square.

Frankfurt was a medieval treasure before the war, but the city was carpet-bombed and very little was built back in traditional style. The neighborhood around the Römer is one of the few spots to give you a feel for what the city once looked like.
The Paulskirche, the first German parliament
Let's start at the round, red-sandstone Paulskirche (St. Paul's church). The building is one of the historic sites for democracy: the first German democratically-elected parliament met here after the revolution of 1848. But the aristocratic forces were able to gradually regain the upper hand, and the experiment in democracy died after just a few years, and most of its leaders emigrated to the United States. The white monument next to the church is dedicated to those revolutionaries.
At Römer square
Turn your back to the church and cross the zebra-stripes at the tram station and run southwards into Römer square. This is Frankfurt's landmark setting, with the old town hall on the right, and historic houses on the left, past the fountain.

Now continue southwards on the little side-street called Fahrtor to the Main River, just 2 blocks away. You'll see a steel pedestrian bridge with a Greek inscription (what's it mean, anyway?), called the Eisernen Steg. Let's cross it: we'll have a great view of the Frankfurt skyline from the other side of the river.
Eiserner Steg pedestrian bridge
At the other side of the bridge, turn right to run westwards along the riverside. There are plenty of other runners and bikers along the water here, in Sachsenhausen.

Now just enjoy the flat asphalt surface and the great views over Frankfurt. It's the only German city with a skyline of skyscrapers downtown, due to the number of banks in this financial powerhouse.
The Frankfurt skyline, seen from Sachsenhausen
Run under the next bridge and continue until you come to the second bridge, another pedestrian bridge, a modern one called Holbein Steg.

Cross it back to Frankfurt. But we've come a bit farther westwards than we needed, so turn right to run eastwards for a block through the riverside park.
Crossing the Holbein Steg back into the city center
When you get to the first chance to turn left from the park, do it. You will now be running north along Untermainanlage, at about the 2-kilometer mark. You're now entering the financial quarter, with the giant skyscrapers looming ahead.

In just a block, you'll cross the same tram tracks again at Willi Brandt Platz, with the European Central Bank building, and it's big blue Euro-symbol to the right.

We're now following the parks from the old city walls. The park name keeps changing, but each piece is named one-or-another "Anlage" ("site" in english). Although it's normally just a hundred meters wide, there are all the bits and pieces that any proper park needs: statues, fountains, benches, flower beds, playgrounds...

Just past the Beethoven memorial, the park takes a turn to the right as it now follows the northern edge of the town center. Soon you'll come to the square with the beautiful Alte Oper (Old Opera), at the 3-km mark.
The Alte Oper
The long pedestrian shopping street district starts here to the right, curving through the pleasant downtown. But we're staying in the parks.

So pass the opera house on its right side and continue through the parkland, running along a big pond, the Mangelsdorff Weiher.
The Mangelsdorff Weiher
Now you just keep follow the park as it gradually curves towards the right, heading back to the river. 
Eschenheimer Tor
You'll pass a medieval gate-tower, the Eschenheimer Tor, then continue past a classical garden house café, called the Odeon, at a round pond. At the next big street that you cross, Zeile, you'll be at the 5-km mark.

You'll then come to a spot were a bit of the old walls are still visible, with a long pond outside them.
Rechnereigraben Weiher
Next, a few cool playgrounds line the way. When the playground ends, and the park seems to end at a fence, you need to turn right to continue following the park off in that direction.

You'll soon find yourself back at the Main River, at the site of the big Flösserbrücke (Rafter's Bridge). Take the steps down to the riverside park and turn right to follow the river along the Frankfurt side this time, passing the 5-km mark.
The Flösserbrücke, head down to the water here!
The river road is raised above you for a few blocks.

At the spot where the road comes down to the river level, turn right to exit the park, just a block before coming back to the Eiserner Steg.
Blooming cherry trees along the Main trail
You're now heading up Zum Pfarturm, running straight to the red-sandstone gothic tower of the cathedral. Run past the front entrance of the cathedral and then turn left at the first chance (the first pedestrian street is blocked for construction at the time I'm writing this).
The cathedral
In just a block you'll be back at the Römer. Great run!

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