A recent artfully designed and performed production of Samuel Barber's "Vanessa" confirmed its reputation as one of Europe's major companies.
The Jewish Museum in Frankfurt has two locations. One, focusing on the history of the Jewish community between the 12th and 20th centuries, occupies a former 19th-century Rothschild family palace.
Also intriguing is the Museum Judengasse on Borneplatz. Here it's possible to examine 18th-century foundation walls from five houses, two ritual baths, two walls and a canal, all of which were uncovered during 1987 excavations for an office building project. Today the structure rises above the museum.
Also here are exhibitions detailing everyday ghetto life and a model portraying more than a thousand buildings. It gives a fascinating overview of what the entire, jam-packed community might have looked like.
Next door is a cemetery that was active for centuries. The key to its always-locked gate can be requested from museum staffers.
Across the Main a special trove of museums stretches along "Museum Bank." The most important is the newly expanded Stadel Museum.
It's easy to spend two or three hours here roaming amid modern expressionists such as Max Beckmann and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and works by Manet, Renior, Rembrandt, Cranach, Holbein, Durer, Monet, Botticelli, Vermeer, Matisse, Munch and Picasso.
The Stadel is easily reached by taking a footbridge crossing the Main that starts near the InterContinental hotel and ends virtually at the museum's front steps.
Nearby are more riverside museums, including the German Architecture Museum, German Film Museum, the Liebieghaus Sculpture Collection, Museum for Applied Art, Museum of Communication and Museum Giersch. Elsewhere in the city and also notable are the Cathedral Museum and Modern Art Museum.
When it's time to move on, a longish walk or short cab ride leads to Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt's bohemian area. While its architecture and winding streets are pleasant to venture through during daytime, the district really comes to life at and after dinnertime.
Dozens of convivial beer halls serving sausages, traditional German brews, drinks and food abound. The dry, ciderlike apple wine, is perfect with spicy sausages and boiled meat accented by the ubiquitous local "green sauce." Tangy but not fiery, it turns up in many different supposedly secret recipes.
While there's plenty to do in Frankfurt, other places of interest are close by. Tne of the most appealing surely is Heidelberg, less than an hour's train ride away. Suffering little World War II damage, this enchanting university town, imortalized by "The Student Prince," provides a fabulous step back in time.
Other highlights include Heidelberg Castle, one of Germany's best, and the Old Town. Not to be missed are the Marktplatz and Rathhaus (city hall). Other easy-to-reach rail-excursion destinations include finely restored Mainz, a medieval powerhouse and the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type.
WHEN YOU GO
I stayed at the InterContinental Hotel, which is walking distance from the Hauptbahnhof as well as major museums and historic sights: www.intercontinental.com.
Riz restaurant: www.riz-frankfurt.de
German tourism information: www.germany.travel
Frankfurt Opera: www.oper-frankfurt.de
Rail Europe offers continental, multicountry or German rail passes: www.raileurope.com.
Robert Selwitz is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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