A city walk is a wonderful way to discover the sights in Frankfurt (Oder). We present some of the most interesting and beautiful places here.
1. Olympiahain (Olympic grove)
Right next to the city’s tourist information centre is a narrow strip of greenery, at the entrance to which sits the statue of Copernicus.
At first we paid no attention to this shady place. It was only when we strolled through the grounds that we discovered 26 inscribed plates embedded in the ground. Curious, we began to read the names and dates and discovered some familiar names, such as Manfred Wolke, Henry Maske or Ronny Weller.
The Olympic grove is one of the more inconspicuous sights in Frankfurt (Oder) and looks back on over 120 years of sporting history. Athletes from the city who have successfully participated in the Olympic and Paralympic Games are honoured here.
For example, good athletes from the fields of boxing, cycling, football or martial arts come from Frankfurt (Oder).
15230 Frankfurt (Oder)
2. City bridge – the blue arch
The city bridge spans the Oder River and connects the cities of Frankfurt (Oder) and Słubice. It is one of the most important sights in Frankfurt (Oder) and forms the inner-city border crossing from Germany to Poland. About 70 % of the bridge is on Polish territory, the Poles call it the border bridge.
How Frankfurt got its bridge
Shortly after Frankfurt was granted city rights in 1253, the first bridge over the Oder was built. This was of supra-regional importance and promoted the traffic of goods on the Paris-Berlin-Warsaw-Moscow trade route.
The bridge was made of wood, and over the next centuries it was repeatedly destroyed by floods, ice or war, but also repeatedly rebuilt. It was not until 1892 that a solid stone bridge began to be built parallel to the existing wooden bridge. After it was inaugurated in 1895, the wooden bridge was torn down. In 1898, the tram crossed the bridge, connecting the old town with the Dammvorstadt.
Border between the GDR and Poland
At the end of the Second World War, German troops blew up the bridge, and for a while a makeshift wooden bridge led across the Oder again.
In 1951, a new bridge was built on the remains of the old piers, connecting Germany with Poland. It was called the Bridge of Friendship and until 1972 could only be crossed with special permission or an official invitation. After that, an agreement between the GDR and Poland made passport- and visa-free cross-border traffic possible. Until 1980, about 8,000 people took advantage of this opportunity to cross the border every day.
City bridge as a link between two countries
After the fall of communism, visa-free border traffic was introduced between the Federal Republic and Poland in 1991. This led to an enormous load on the bridge. A good 4,000 vehicles crossed the structure every day. In addition, a good 8 million people used this opportunity to cross the Oder every year. As a result, a new bridge had to be built in 2000 due to the poor condition of the structure.
Today, vehicles can use the bridge on a 9-metre wide lane and pedestrians on both sides on paths just under 3 metres wide. A total of 5 openings span the river, allowing shipping to continue its journey without any problems. A striking feature is the blue bridge arch, which is a symbol of German-Polish cooperation
3. Peace Bell – Discover Sights in Frankfurt (Oder)
If you walk along the Oder promenade, you will reach the Peace Bell. It is one of the most famous sights in Frankfurt (Oder) and a monument to the Oder-Neisse border (Oder-Neisse peace border).
In the course of the 1949 Görlitz Agreement, the GDR government accepted the Oder-Neisse border. Frankfurt (Oder) was now a border town and the eastern district of Dammvorstadt became the Polish town of Słubice.
The bell was donated by the CDU of the GDR in view of the VI Party Congress in Berlin in 1952. It had previously been cast in Vogtland and then brought to Berlin to the square in front of Friedrichstraße station. There, the bell was consecrated in the presence of the population and the CDU party conference visitors on 15 October 1952.
In January 1953, the Peace Bell was finally placed in a bell house on Holzmarkt. It hung there until 2011, when it was moved to the southern end of Holzmarkt to a new bell tower made of stainless steel.
Traditionally, the bell is rung for the World Peace Day on 1 September. Since it belongs to the CDU, permission must be obtained from the district group each time.
4. Isle of Ziegenwerder
A small bridge leads from the Oder promenade to the nature island of Ziegenwerder, which lies between the Old and New Oder. According to legend, the island owes its name to a goat farmer named Gottlieb. He gave his goats fodder from the island.
The island was redesigned in 2003. The eastern part, which is often flooded when the Oder water rises, is now in its original state. The western part of the island is characterised by a park with landscaped paths, a stern theatre, restaurants and a playground.
We took advantage of the morning hours and walked a little in the natural area. A wonderful habitat for numerous animals and plants.
5. Kleist Museum
One of the most important sights in Frankfurt (Oder) is the Kleist Museum. It is dedicated to the life and works of Heinrich von Kleist, who was born in Frankfurt (Oder).
For his time, Kleist was a modern man with countless interests. He studied philosophy, physics, mathematics and political science in his native city of Frankfurt (Oder) at the famous Viadrina. It never kept him in one place for very long; he travelled all his life. In his literary works and in his plays, he very realistically describes the emergence and failure of human bonds.
In 1811 (in November), Kleist committed suicide with Henriette Vogel at the Kleine Wannsee in Berlin. A memorial stone commemorates the artist there today.
After a Kleist library was acquired from an estate in 1919, it was decided to make Frankfurt (Oder) the centre of Kleist research. The Kleist Society was founded, which built the first museum in the house where Kleist was born. This burned down in 1945.
Visit to the Kleist Museum
After the war, a new collection was gradually built up. Today it is housed in a former garrison school. The museum in the old building and the modern extension opened in 2013 shows a permanent exhibition on Heinrich Kleist and his environment. In addition, readings, lectures and literary-musical events are offered.
We strolled through the museum a little and had a look at the permanent exhibition. I find it impressive that they try to deal with the person Kleist and his works using a wide variety of media. Not much has survived of the artist other than countless written sheets and a miniature. Rather uninteresting to look at in a museum. The exhibition therefore works with the spoken word, for example. You walk through a forest of poles and can listen to audio samples from Kleist’s works at several points. I was struck by how “modern” his texts sound compared to other artists of the era, and some of the themes are still relevant today.
In other rooms you learn a lot more about the life of Heinrich von Kleist, until you finally arrive in a small room that deals with his death. Here you hear the statements about the suicide that impressed me the most.
Kleist tour along the sights in Frankfurt (Oder)
If the museum has whetted your appetite for more Heinrich von Kleist, there is a signposted Kleist tour in the city and in Słubice. A total of nine routes lead to the house where Kleist was born, to Kleist Park and to the statue of Käthchen von Heilbronn.
We walked to the monument to Heinrich von Kleist in Gertraudenpark. It shows a young man sitting on a pedestal, holding a lyre in his left hand. His gaze is directed into the distance. On the base of the monument there are not only inscriptions, but also a relief with a scene from the play “Der Prinz von Homburg”, the “Zerbrochener Krug” and the “Käthchen von Heilbronn”.
15230 Frankfurt (Oder)
Tuesday – Sunday: 10-18 h
Adults: 5,- €
The Lennépark is one of the oldest citizen’s parks in Germany. Peter Joseph Lenné designed a park on about 8.9 ha, which was intended as a place of recreation for the citizens of the city.
Around 1253, a rampart about 900 metres long and a good 11 metres high was created to the west of the city wall. This was of no military use after 1820 and nature reclaimed the land. Trees and bushes growing wild were not to the taste of the influential citizens and so it was decided to turn the ramparts into a park.
However, the financing for the redesign was refused by the city and so the citizens collected donations. In this way, they were able to finance a path through the ramparts, a bridge over the moat and a lockable gate in the city wall.
After further fundraising, Peter Joseph Lenné was engaged to design a planting plan for the grounds. After the Frankfurt Council had approved this, the conversion work and new plantings began. The work progressed slowly, as whenever the money ran out, all work was put on hold and only resumed with new donations. In 1845, all the work was completed.
Today, the park is a wonderful quiet oasis in the middle of the city. You can walk along well-laid paths right next to a small watercourse and discover about 50 different species of trees, such as a primeval sequoia, tulip magnolias or the English oak.
Unfortunately, the cascade had no water when we visited, but the artificial fountain in a small pond was bubbling.
7. Karl Marx Monument
The Karl Marx Monument stands at the edge of Lenné Park. The bronze bust was created by Fritz Cremer in 1954 and was in the possession of the city for several years without being noticed. The city did not find the right place for the monument to make a big social impact and so it stood around unused for a while.
In 1968, it was decided to place the monument on a three-tiered terrace at the edge of Lenné Park. Behind it, a column about 9 metres high was placed with a modified quotation from Marx: “Theory became material violence”( „Die Theorie wurde zur materiellen Gewalt“).
The monument is considered a landmark in Frankfurt (Oder) and is on the list of monuments in the state of Brandenburg.
8. Town Hall of the City of Frankfurt (Oder)
The town hall of Frankfurt (Oder) is a beautiful building that was unfortunately under construction during our visit. The first building was probably erected in the middle of the 13th century, but the exact building history is not completely clear.
The building, which was badly damaged in the Second World War, was rebuilt from 1951-53. Today, the south façade is designed like a typical Hanseatic town hall building. Arcades and high rectangular windows determine the appearance.
Today, the town hall houses the “Young Art” museum.
9. Soviet Memorial with Cemetery of Honour on the Anger
Since 1947, there has been a memorial for the fallen Soviet soldiers on the Anger. Around the memorial there are about 600 gravestones with the names of the fallen soldiers.
10. Oderturm – a sight in Frankfurt (Oder)?
Actually, the Oderturm is “only” a 25-storey skyscraper in the city, but it is one of the city’s landmarks and an unmistakable landmark.
The high-rise building, planned as an office building, was built in the city from 1968-1976. After opening, it was used for a time as a youth hotel (160 beds) and to accommodate employees of a semiconductor plant (274 beds). In addition, the city’s data processing centre was housed there. On the ground floor there was a bookshop, a delicatessen and a self-service restaurant. On the 23rd floor there was a panorama café.
After reunification, the building was renovated and converted. A shopping arcade was built and the large neon sign was placed on the roof.
On the 24th floor there was a restaurant/café for a while, but unfortunately it was closed when we visited. It’s a pity, because the view from up there is definitely great.
11. Comic – fountain
The Comic Fountain is located on Fountain Square. It is the meeting place of the city’s inhabitants and unique.
Michael Fischer-Art, a painter and sculptor, created this fountain in 2000. It is made of stainless steel and glass fibre. The different figures are hand-painted.
I find the upper large figure with a height of over 5 metres particularly impressive. Colourful, cheerful, wild and different, the fountain appears in the cityscape. The long running water strand is an invitation to play in the water.
Frankfurt (Oder) is a university town. The European University Viadrina is located here. From 1506-1811, the Viadrina was the first Brandenburg state university. The Humboldt brothers, for example, studied here. In 1810, Prussia decided to found the Berlin University and decided that the Viadrina should close. The university, its entire library and furniture were loaded onto barges and taken or up to Breslau. The Jesuit College there thus became a full university. After 1811, the university was closed for almost 200 years and it was not until 1991 that the European University was re-established.
Some of the buildings are very modern, but the university also still uses old buildings in the city centre.
13. Monument to the Fallen Railwaymen 1914-1919
Very close to the main railway station is another sight in Frankfurt (Oder), the “Railway Monument”.
After the foundation of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, Frankfurt (Oder) was the location of the Reichsbahndirektion Ost from 1923. At this time, the wish arose to erect a memorial for colleagues who had fallen in the war.
When a new housing estate was built on the Kiliansberg near the main railway station in 1922-24, a site for the future monument remained unbuilt. Numerous donations were needed before the monument could be dedicated, and it was not until 1932 that it was finally inaugurated.
I find the monument quite interesting, but I needed some help with the interpretation. The three free-standing steles are supposed to represent the three lost railway directorates (Bromberg, Posen and Danzig) to which the fallen railwaymen belonged. The plinth symbolises the Reichsbahndirektion Osten. The impeller on top of the monument is considered a symbol of the railwaymen’s activity.
From the viewing platform behind the monument you have a beautiful view over the city.
Fischerstraße in the Guben suburb is one of the oldest and most beautiful streets in the city.
As the street name suggests, fishermen, but also craftsmen and day labourers once lived here in small cottages. Fortunately, this area was not destroyed during the war and so today you can stroll along colourful houses.
15. St. Mary’s Church (Marienkirche)
One of the most impressive sights in Frankfurt (Oder) is the Marienkirche with its beautiful windows. Climbing the tower gives you a great view of the city.
More information can be found in our article on St. Mary’s Church.
The city tour was a programme point of a research trip to Frankfurt (Oder).