Commerzbank Tower

>> Frankfurt Skyline Countdown # 1 <<

Here it is, Frankfurt’s tallest building, the Commerzbank Tower, as seen from the pedestrian bridge Eiserne Steg (= iron footbridge) in 2004.

The Commerzbank Tower is 259 meters tall and has the reputation of being an “ecological skyscraper” because of the technology used for heating and cooling the building. Unfortunately it is not open to the public, except for the plaza level.

There are nine large gardens at different levels of the building, and at night it is lit up by changing yellow lights which make it look rather like a huge cathedral.

Commerzbank Tower from Kaiserplatz

The Commerzbank is, as the name implies, a commercial bank. Since it has put its name not only on Frankfurt’s tallest building, but also on the city’s football aka soccer stadium, you might get the impression it as solid as the rock of Gibraltar, as an old American insurance slogan used to say (ignoring the fact that the real rock of Gibraltar has been hollowed out by numerous tunnels and caves), but actually the Commerzbank had to be bailed out by the German government after the financial crisis of 2008, and has since been involved in various scandals involving money laundering, cum-ex (don’t even ask) and tax evasion. At last word they were having a management shakeup and looking for a new CEO.

Update: As of July 1, 2020, Frankfurt’s football aka soccer stadium is no longer called the “Commerzbank-Arena” but is now the “Deutsche Bank Park”, which is different but not better. Locally, there is a tendency to call the stadium by its original name Waldstadion (= Forest Stadium).

Frankfurt’s highest building, however, is still called the Commerzbank Tower, even though it was sold in 2016 to a consortium led by the Samsung Life Insurance company of South Korea. The Commerzbank plans to remain in the building as a tenant until at least 2031.

Thanks to Brexit, the Commerzbank Tower is now (again) the highest building in the European Union.

Commerzbank Tower with neighboring buildings, 2004

If I were living somewhere with a view of, say, the Swiss Alps, I would at least want to know the names and heights of the mountains I could see from my neighborhood.

Well, that’s the way I feel about the skyscrapers in Frankfurt. They aren’t the world’s tallest or most spectacular, but they’re the ones I ride towards and past and around and between whenever I’m out cycling in the city center, so I can’t help being curious about them.

Commerzbank Tower with Omniturm and Main Tower, 2020

The names of these buildings are not terribly inspiring, I must admit. Of the twenty tallest buildings in Frankfurt (as listed by the building-industry website

  • Four have the English word Tower in their names and five have the German word Turm, which means the same. (If I ever figure out why some are in English and others in German, I’ll let you know.)
  • Four are named after their owners or main users.
  • One is named after its street address.
  • Two of the names are in Denglish, i.e. half German and half English (Commerzbank Tower and Frankfurter Büro Center).
  • Two of the top 20 buildings have their heights (in meters) as part of their names — not their real heights, mind you, but their authorized heights as listed in their building permits (Tower 185 and One Forty West).

Other German cities have so far shown little inclination to follow Frankfurt’s example by building masses of skyscrapers. The twelve tallest buildings in Frankfurt are also the twelve tallest in Germany. Then comes the 162-meter Post Tower in Bonn, followed by five more Frankfurt buildings and then the 148-meter KölnTurm in Cologne.

Entrance to the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt

The entrance to the Commerzbank Tower is on the Große Gallus Straße. The steep stairs don’t make it look very accessible, but there’s a separate wheelchair entrance off to the right.

 My photos in this post are from 2004, 2005 and 2020. I revised the text in 2020.

See all posts from the Frankfurt Skyline Countdown.

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