Things move pretty quickly in Frankfurt am Main, from the passengers rushing through the airport terminals of this major international hub to the money swirling through the desktop terminals of its skyscraper banks. But venture into the somewhat gritty downtown area, get on a train at the city’s main station and 10 minutes later, you’re in another world. Or rather, another era.
You might recognize the name Höchst from the Hoechst chemical company. But it’s not the extensive industrial area we’ve come to see, rather the exceptionally well-preserved old town. Höchst has its origins sometime around 790, and its oldest church, the Justinuskirche, was built just a few decades later and still stands by the river Main (with later additions). Adjacent to the church you can see preserved parts of the medieval wall and its watchtowers which, along with most of the town’s half-timbered houses and stately public buildings, were largely spared the wartime damage which devastated Frankfurt.
Wander the narrow winding streets and you’ll eventually come to the beautiful, Baroque Bolongaro Palace. On one side it tries valiantly to blend in with the streetscape, but its main façade drops the false modesty and lords it over landscaped gardens. Unusually, the palace wasn’t built for royalty or church officials, but Italian snuff entrepreneurs. The original inhabitants of Höchster Schloss, on the other hand, were bishops. This castle is a rambling construction built between the 13th and 16th centuries, dominated by a distinctive white, round tower whose summit offers panoramic views of the town. Summer is undoubtedly the best time to head for Höchst. A program of cultural events from June to September includes concerts – with an emphasis on organ recitals – gourmet food events, guided tours and fireworks.