>> Frankfurt Skyline Countdown # 5 <<
Most Frankfurt skyscrapers are not open to the public, so we are glad that the Main Tower, which was completed in the year 2000, has an observation deck on the roof (the 56th floor), which is open to everyone — except during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Main Tower (not Turm but Tower) is located at the Neue Mainzer Strasse 52 – 58. It consists of a round tower facing south and a slightly smaller square tower facing north. The letters “Heleba” at the top stand for Hessische Landesbank, the State Bank of Hessen.
By the way, the word Main is pronounced more or less like the English word mine (/maɪ̯n/), not main (/meɪn/). The Main Tower was named after the Main River, which flows through Frankfurt, so the Main Tower is not the “main tower” in the English sense of the word.
The Main Tower is two hundred meters tall, which makes it currently the fifth tallest building in Frankfurt am Main. Chicagoans will be unimpressed, of course, since their Sears Tower aka Willis Tower is over twice as tall, and I don’t even want to know what the Kuala Lumpurians think about it, not to mention the folks in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei or Dubai.
But we like the Main Tower and will probably take you up if the weather is good and the pandemic is over, so please try not to be too condescending. It’s the best we can do, considering that the four taller buildings in Frankfurt are not normally open to the public.
(Speaking of Chicago, my father used to work in a grimy little 19th century building that was demolished to make room for the Sears Tower, so I have always felt a special connection to that one.)
Looking south from the observation platform on the roof of the Main Tower, we can see the Eurotower, the Frankfurt Opera on Willy-Brandt-Platz, the Main River and beyond that the Frankfurt district of Sachsenhausen.
Here we are looking upstream (east) from the roof of the Main Tower. If you go up the Main River far enough (good cycling paths on both sides!) you can get to Hanau, Aschaffenburg, Miltenberg, Wertheim, Gemünden and lots of places in between, not to mention Würzburg and Bayreuth, which are further up.
The cathedral spire, near the center of the photo, was wrapped up for repairs when I took the picture. The cathedral is 95 meters high and was the tallest structure in Frankfurt until 1961.
The building in the foreground, with the greenish roof, is the Paulskirche (Saint Paul’s Church), best known as the meeting place of the first German National Assembly, during the abortive revolutions of 1848-49.
Looking west, we can see the Frankfurt Central Station on the left, and the city’s third tallest building, Westendstraße 1, on the right.
Looking north from the roof of the Main Tower, we can see the I.G. Farben Building in the middle of the photo. It is now the main building of the new Westend Campus of the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University. Behind that and a bit off to the left is the German Federal Bank. And we can see the Taunus Hills in the distance.
On the 53rd floor of the Main Tower there is a restaurant and a television studio which can accommodate a studio audience of up to one hundred people (without social distancing, however). The regional station hr broadcasts daily from up here, so most people know what the view is like even if they have never gone up themselves.
When the weather is really nice, the television people sometimes walk up three flights of stairs and broadcast live from the roof.
In my photo, the young lady is reciting the weather forecast.
Since space is so limited (and expensive!) up here, the control room and much of the technical equipment, such as rack bays and patch panels, are at another site about four kilometers away, at the station’s original Studio 1. Two optical fiber cables were installed between the two locations. The main cable follows a seven-kilometer path to the control room, and if anything should go wrong with that one there is also a redundant twelve-kilometer cable that goes by an entirely different route, as a backup.
Down at ground level, the German dramatist, poet and historian Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) can’t be bothered to even glance at the Main Tower (much less at the nearby Garden Towers), since he obviously has more important things on his mind.
My photos in this post are from 2004 and 2006. I revised the text in 2020.