Mainhattan – that's what Frankfurt am Main is often called, alluding to its skyline which reminds of the New York district and its world financial centre. In fact, Frankfurt am Main is the only major German city with a skyscraper panorama visible from afar. Learn more about Frankfurt am Main, home of the E2 Forum Frankfurt – the innovation forum for vertical-horizontal mobility.
1. Frankfurt is Mainhattan: The only major German city with a high-rise skyline
Mainhattan - that's what Frankfurt am Main is often called, alluding to the New York district and its world financial centre. In fact, Frankfurt am Main is the only major German city with a high-rise skyline visible from afar. For a long time, people associated Frankfurt's skyscrapers with the banking district, but for some years now the second skyscraper cluster of the Main metropolis has been emerging at the trade fair in the Europaviertel district. From 2025, Germany's tallest high-rise tower, the Millennium Tower, will also be erected here.
2. Place of Germany's tallest residential and office buildings.
By far the tallest and most high-rise buildings in the country are located in Frankfurt am Main, where 31 of them attain a height of at least 100 metres. This is followed by Berlin (11), Cologne (10), Munich (6) and Düsseldorf and Hamburg with three high-rises each above the 100-metre mark.
3. Five building giants with a height of more than 200 metres
At the heart of Frankfurt's skyscraper silhouette are Germany's two tallest buildings: the Commerzbank office building as Germany's tallest skyscraper (259 metres, 300 m incl. antenna) and the second tallest German building giant, Messeturm (257 m).
Together with the Westend Tower office building (208 m), the Main Tower bank building (200 m) and the "Tower 185" office building (200 m), a total of five skyscrapers with a height of more than 200 metres make up the building crown of the Frankfurt skyline.
4. More than just skyscrapers: High-rises adorn Frankfurt's skyline
High-rise buildings over 150 metres high are generally considered skyscrapers.
There is a total of 15 skyscrapers (over 150 metres high) in the whole of Germany, 14 of which are in Frankfurt am Main and one in Bonn (as of 2022).
5. Largest concentration of high-rise buildings in the city centre in Europe
Frankfurt has a total of more than 30 high-rise buildings of over 100 metres in height (for fire protection purposes, buildings of 22 metres or more are already considered high-rises). This is a unique concentration of mixed-use high-rise buildings in Europe.
If all high-rise buildings of 60 metres or more are included, this makes a total of 58 high-rise buildings (seven of which are currently under construction). A further eight with this minimum height are currently in the planning stage.
This makes the city today - alongside London, Paris, Moscow and Warsaw - one of the leading skyscraper metropolises in Europe in terms of density, height and architecture of the buildings.
And not just since the present day: Frankfurt is a document of modern skyscraper history, which began in Germany in the 1910s. The oldest high-rise buildings in Frankfurt are the Mousonturm (built 1923-1926), the I.G.-Farben-Haus (built 1928-1931, today the main building of Goethe University) and the Gewerkschaftshaus (built 1929-1931). These three buildings are up to 35 metres high and still exist today, but are no longer classified as high-rise buildings compared to all later buildings.
6. Frankfurt - compactly used, horizontal-vertical metropolis.
Whereas in the skyscraper era since the 1950s high-rise buildings in Frankfurt were synonymous with high-quality and concentrated workplaces, residential high-rises have since gained in significance. For example, the Henninger Turm in the Sachsenhausen district (Germany's second-highest residential tower) and a number of larger and smaller buildings used for residential purposes have been built in the new Europaviertel district.
The modern mix of living and working in high-rise buildings has now also found its way into Frankfurt. Openings of the ground floors for retail, kindergartens or gastronomy and the development of the high-rise environment for the public also ensure a lively atmosphere around the clock. All in the spirit of a compact and mixed-use, horizontal-vertical city. This also includes the elevators and escalators at 390 stations and 111 stations of underground and suburban trains within the regional public transport network RMV.
In constant change: One of Frankfurt's consistencies is its constant change. There are currently numerous major construction sites, such as the new FOUR being built in the banking district. Four new high-rises are being built here by the middle of the decade, the tallest 233 metres high. At the same time, there is another mega-project with the construction of the third terminal at Frankfurt Airport. From 2025, the Millennium Tower, Germany's tallest skyscraper with a planned height of 288 metres, will then be built in Frankfurt.
View of current Frankfurt construction sites in 2022: The Four Frankfurt, a residential project consisting of a total of four buildings for city living in the middle of the skyline, between the cultural sites and the financial centre, grown out of historical substance from the 1950s. Designed by the architectural firm UNStudio and Ben van Berkel. Image source: Skylineatlas
7. Escalators and moving walkways bridge horizontal distances
At Messe Frankfurt and Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt also disposes of infrastructures for horizontal transport such as escalators and moving walkways running horizontally along the ground.
Messe Frankfurt alone has a total of over 500 elevators and escalators in operation. In addition, 40 moving walkways transport hundreds of thousands of exhibitors and visitors from all over the world. Frankfurt Airport operates a total of 440 lifts and 247 escalators. Of the horizontal moving walkways, 81 are in use, the longest measuring just over 135 metres. The newly projected Terminal 3 will bring even more installations.
8. Does it still exist? – The paternoster lift
This goes out to all elevator connoisseurs: Of the 231 paternoster lifts still in existence in Germany, there are still around 20 such lifts in Frankfurt am Main: most of them are not open to the public, such as in industrial office buildings, the European Central Bank (ECB) or individual public authorities. However, the Fleming's Deluxe Hotel renovated and staged the lift from the ex-Bayer building from 1952 over seven floors (14 cabins, lift height 23 m) for its guests in 2008.
The ECB building deserves a special mention, not only in our overview here: the headquarters of the European Central Bank is located in Frankfurt's City East and marks the eastern extension of Frankfurt's skyline as an imposing high-rise solitaire at an appropriate, symbolic distance from the city's skyscraper clusters. The building complex consists of two elements: the former Grossmarkthalle (wholesale market hall) from 1928 and a 185-metre-high double tower, which was given a joint façade. The ECB Tower was built in the architectural style of deconstructivism. The towers, which visually lean against each other, bear the name Skytower and reach a height of 201 metres with antenna. E2 experts know: Some of the 16 lifts in total are built as twin lifts, each with two cabins arranged one above the other, not connected to each other.
The incorporation of the heritage-protected Grossmarkthalle, originally designed by Martin Elsaesser in 1928 and the largest column-free reinforced concrete hall in the world at its time, presented a major planning challenge. It is this heritage-protected part of the ECB complex that is home to the paternosters.
9. Higher, stronger, smoother: Frankfurt's smaller records
The visitors' lift in the Main Tower bank building (200m) is one of the few high-rise lifts also open to the public. It leads to the panorama viewing platform. In the residential high-rise ONE FORTY WEST, the lift leads to the Sky Restaurant at a height of 60 metres.
10. Frankfurt am Main: Location of the E2 Forum Frankfurt for integrated elevator and escalator technology
Messe Frankfurt held the Innovation Forum for Elevator and Escalator Technology – E2 Forum Frankfurt for the first time in September 2018. The technological and topical platform consists of a conference with accompanying exhibition on future-proof solutions for horizontal and vertical transportation. It serves to promote dialogue between the elevator and escalator industry and decision-makers in building planning and management. Messe Frankfurt itself is double competent in this field: as one of the world's leading trade fair and congress organiser and as operator and developer of a considerable building stock on its own exhibition grounds: this comprises 12 large exhibition halls as well as further convention halls and office buildings - among them the "Torhaus" building dating from 1984 by the renowned architect Oswald Mathias Ungers – on a site covering a total area of 592,000 square metres. The exhibition area, equivalent to more than 80 football pitches, also stands up to international comparison: Messe Frankfurt makes its buildings and halls accessible with a current total of 317 escalators and moving walkways as well as 184 elevators. And all this for around two million visitors a year.
11. Frankfurt skyscrapers in a model
Did you know that a model of Frankfurt and its skyscrapers on a scale of 1:500 is available for viewing at the City Planning Office? What's so special about it is that it includes both the completed high-rises and some of the planned ones. The model, which covers an area of 54 square metres, is definitely worth a visit and attracts thousands of interested visitors every year.