FRANKFURT There is a place in Frankfurt, Germany, that you just don’t expect. One of those places that is not among the first results when googling “what to see” in this town.
The average stay for tourists in a town like this is one weekend or in any case just a few days, so they focus mainly on classic attractions like the Christmas Market in December, the most famous skyline in Europe, the charming museums road and the Goethe house. More curious travelers might however enjoy the discovery of small city pearls such as the Chinese garden in Bethmannpark or the less famous Korean garden near Palmengarten.
But it’s hard to find someone that takes a due bow to Hauptfriedhof, Frankfurt main cemetery, a real gem. At just four subway stops from the city center, it welcomes you like almost all the big cemeteries. A majestic entrance, a wide and anonimous parkway that certainly does not attract the attention of tourists. But once you pass the driveway you find yourself in a large square that is the starting point for many tiny pathways swallowed by dense vegetation, surrounded by huge trees and full of benches everywhere … Yes, because this is the real surprise, this is the side you do not expect. Those benches are a signal, an invitation to see that place with different eyes.
Obviously, for the departed, they all have the utmost deserved respect and you can see it by the obsessive care for the lawns, for the pathways and for every little detail around the tombstones, you can see it by that incredible realm of silence, despite the presence of so many people. In fact, you won’t find anyone drinking beer, loitering or playing football. What you will find is people walking hand in hand, people who read books on the benches in the shade of pine trees, young joggers and children quietly riding their bicycles, enjoying a landscape than a city center can hardly give.
This place is so big and there are so many pathways that it’s easy to get lost, but this is perhaps the best part of it: wandering around just to be swallowed up by that nature so grand and cured, without thinking about a destination, without thinking about how to find the exit. You just ask the first person you meet and he will show you the nearest way out, where you will find a subway station that will take you downtown in a few minutes.
In short, Hauptfriedhof is not just a cemetery: it is a beautiful, quiet park, nestled in colors that in the autumn season give the best of themselves. So, if you come here and you’re tired of the urban chaos, this is a small slice of peace that deserves to be visited and lived.