Frankfurt (Oder)/Słubice: One travel destination - two countries

This year’s festival location is a special one. The festival will take place in “one festival city” but in two European countries at the same time. The twin city Frankfurt (Oder) and Słubice is uniting the German-Polish border region. Many different projects aiming at exchange between citizens of both sides of the river Oder are located here and are creating an active, diverse and exciting cultural life in Frankfurt/Słubice.

 

The Viadrina city

It is a great honour to invite you to Frankfurt and Słubice, because "active citizenship" and „cultural exchange“, also working fields of MitOst, have been connected to the identity of this place for centuries. In geographical terms it is the gateway between East and West, although locals don’t claim to be the centre of Europe. Sure, the river Oder is the most western river to collect water for the Baltic Sea and brought wealth to the twin-town in the middle-ages, when it was part of the Hanseatic League.
The political positioning throughout history makes this place a meeting point in any direction, as its citizens dared to pronounce their own vision of independence from higher regimes, may they be royal, clerical or national. Until the early days of the 19th century young people from Berlin were sent to university here. The rich families from town built their own church in the centre, the iconic St. Mary’s church. In the Prussian era, the city was the first to have a municipal theatre, which would celebrate its 175th anniversary this year. In the aftermath of the nazi and communist regimes, Frankfurt and Słubice lost a high number of their citizens; the cities are still struggling to shape their identities and a promising urban development.

The MitOst Festival from 4 to 8 October 2017 will not only resonate with the traditional positioning of the city ‚viadrina' (meaning: situated by the river), it will also invest ideas and methods for continuation in the educational and cultural fields. Our host city invites you to develop entrepreneurship together – the best of all ways. Let it be a soundful and innovative festival “by the river"!

 

Seven Reasons to visit the City

1. Two Cities, one region and a shared history: The twin city

Both located at the banks of the river Oder, Frankfurt lies on Germany’s eastern, and Słubice on Poland’s western fringe. Together they form a cross-border agglomeration of about 81.000 inhabitants.
Both towns offer cultural diversity, a fascinating history and a gorgeous landscape. Although you will find different mentalities and languages in Frankfurt (Oder) and Słubice, the European twin city indeed shares a common past. Before 1945, the two cities constituted one under the name Frankfurt on the Oder; when the Oder-Neiße region was divided by the war, however, both cities were compelled to find a new identity. While in the nineties the river might have been experienced as a harsh border to the wealthy European Union, today the bridge is rather openly connecting and uniting the European twin city and the European region “Pro Europe Viadrina.”


2. Classic Touristic Sights

One landmark of Frankfurt is St. Mary’s Church (St. Marien-Kirche), with its impressive stained glass windows from the 14th century, one of the largest Gothic brick churches in Brandenburg. Visitors can climb the 67vmeters high church tower and get an exceptional view of the neighbouring towns.
Another place worth a visit is the town hall. Built in 1253 in a North German brick Gothic style, it is one of the oldest ones in Germany.
Tired of old monuments? Then visit Oderturm, a 25 floor shopping center dominating the city’s panorama. In Słubice, one of Europe’s oldest Jewish cemeteries is located. While the cemetery was hardly destroyed during the war and by the Polish socialist administration (even a restaurant/night club was built on this area), it is now officially registered as a monument and partly rebuilt.


3. Secret Touristic Sights

There is something about these towns which make them stand out: Polish markets. Here you can see more German than Polish people. The first come here to to buy daily goods like alcohol, cigarettes, flowers, tools or food), the latter – to sell. If you want to observe how this tandem works, come to one of the Polish markets in ul. Kopernika or ul. Sportowa in Słubice, which is considered the biggest market at the German border.


4. University Towns Frankfurt and Słubice

Frankfurt is the most eastern university town in Germany. The campus of the European University Viadrina is situated on the river Oder. Since the reopening of the Viadrina in 1991, the European University, which sees itself as a successor of the Brandenburg University Frankfurt (1506-1811), has developed into an internationally renowned address on the German-Polish border, with approximately 6,000 students now enrolled.
Another place connected to the Viadrina is the Collegium Polonicum, situated in Słubice on the Polish side. This cross-border, academic institution was jointly brought into being and is being maintained by the European University Viadrina and the Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań. Since then the students of the European University are no longer just part of Frankfurt, but are also part of Słubice’s everyday life.


5. Museums and Culture

Frankfurt is one of the cities of Eastern Germany with the largest number of works of art in public spaces and buildings. Look around when you walk through the streets!
Museum Junge Kunst offers more than 11,000 works of art, paintings, sculptures, art installations and objects. The Kleist-Museum is dedicated to the life and work of Heinrich von Kleist, German poet and dramatist of the 18th century, who was born in Frankfurt.
Other venues which can be interesting for those passionate about culture and history are the cultural-historical Museum Viadrina and the “Gedenk- und Dokumentationsstätte Opfer Politischer Gewaltherrschaft” (memorial site for victims of political repression). In Frankfurt you can also visit concerts, theaters, readings or dance performances, for example in Kleist Forum Frankfurt, a concert hall with an impressive architecture, which offers a lot of different events. For theater lovers we recommend the “Modern Theater Oderland,” where you can visit plays and concerts. While the “Theater des Lachens” (theatre of laughing) offers a programme for all ages, the “Theater Frankfurt/Theater im Schuppen e.V.” is a theatre especially for children and young people. For those who love cabaret, we recommend to visit the “Die Oderhähne”, which exists already since 35 years and whose events are mostly sold out. In the municipal cultural center of Słubice, the Słubicki Miejski Ośrodek Kultury (SMOK), you can watch a movie in the cinema or visit the art gallery “Okno”.


6. Nature and Parks

The weather in Frankfurt and Słubice is unpredictable. If you are lucky to catch sunny days in October, walk alongside the river Oder down the Oderpromenade in Słubice.
A good alternative is one of the wonderful parks which Frankfurt can boast of. “Wildpark” is the ideal destination for both kids and adults. Over 300 animals walk freely on its huge and green territory. Want to join them? Gertraudpark is a little cozy park not far from the church which bears the same name. While walking around this peaceful and serene place, don’t be to bump into tombs of poets and artists: Gertraudpark used to be a cemetery. Anger (don’t mix it up with negative emotions) is another cute oasis of green within the town, not far from the railway station. What about a picnic with MitOst participants there? On the Polish side you can make a walk to the ruins of the Kleist Tower. As part of a German-Polish Centre a project initiative wants to rebuild the tower, which was destroyed in 1945.


7. Surroundings

The twin-town offers excellent transport connections, not only to its direct surroundings, but also to the metropolises Berlin and Poznań. Take the chance and visit these cities on your way to the festival or back home and experience the cultural offers of Poznań or the famous nightlife of Berlin.
Far from these metropolises, but just a bit north from the twin-city, the “Theater am Rand” (theatre at the margin), a stage for theatre, concerts and films, is located.
Also Eisenhüttenstadt, this time just a bit south along the river, might be worth a trip. It’s a socialist planned city and considered as the first socialist city of the GDR. Here you can visit the Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR.
As a contrast you can visit one of the most significant Baroque monuments in North Germany, the Cistercian  monastery of Neuzelle, which is located not very far from Eisenhüttenstadt.

 

 

 

Orientation in the City

How to move around?

Basically, most places in Frankfurt and Słubice are within walking distance. However, on both sides of the river there are of course many busses, which you are free to use. Some of them even cross the border. The price for a single ticket is 1,70 euro and for a day ticket 3,60 euro. Tickets for the zones AB are also valid in Słubice. More information on the public transport you can find here. But especially during the night you should not rely on public transport. Therefore it might be useful to take your own bike or rent one in the festival city, for example here  or here  –  both bike stores are close to the train station.
If the distance is too far to walk, you don’t have a bike and it’s too late to catch a bus, you can of course also take a taxi. Some taxis are usually waiting at the train station in Frankfurt. The Polish taxis are a bit cheaper, and you can use them only if you start on the right side of the Oder.

 

Currency

While you can use the euro in Frankfurt, the official currency in Słubice is the Polish Złoty (Zl). 1 Złoty consists of 100 Groszy. 1 euro is 4,2 Zloty. However, in most places in Słubice you can also pay with euro. In case you need some Złoty anyway, you  will find two exchange offices right behind  the bridge.

 

Language and Script

This year’s festival city is also unique in terms of language: it is bilingual Polish and German. Most of you probably know that both languages use the Latin alphabet. Anyway, Polish and German have to offer some peculiarities in script. While German is famous for its “Umlaute” ä, ö and ü, Polish has its nasals ę and ą and a lot of different sibilants and other sounds written in combinations or marked with dots and stripes, like ń, ł, ó, ś, ć, ść, ź, ż, rz, cz and others.
As Frankfurt and Słubice are part of the Polish-German border region, the two languages also affect the everyday life on both sides of the river. For example, there are Polish-German kindergartens and school classes, and many signs in public space are bi- or even trilingual.

 

Staying obernight

During the festival, most of you will sleep in the student dormitories in Frankfurt. For the days before and after the festival there are many possibilities to find a place to stay in Frankfurt, Słubice or Berlin. A variety of hostels and hosts can be found on hostelworldAirbnb and CouchSurfing.

 

Shopping

We have to admit that Frankfurt and Słubice are anything but the world’s shopping Meccas like Milan or Paris. But besides the unique polish markets, here as well you can visit one of the obligatory shopping malls, although you will probably find more exciting ways to spend your time during the festival. In Frankfurt this would be Spitzkrug-Multi-Center, Lenné Passagen or Oderturm Einkaufscenter and in Słubice Galeria Prima or Travel Free. For a more extraordinary shopping experience you should go to the “Trödelhalle,” a kind of a roofed fleemarket.

 

 


Food and Drinks

Like in any relatively big German town, you can find a variety of international cuisine in Frankfurt and, not less important, at affordable prices. But local and traditional German or Polish food are not missed out either, e.g. in the German restaurants “Bewirtung 1900” and “Frankfurter Kartoffelhaus,” the Polish restaurant “Pyszna Chata“ or the milk bar “Delta.” One of the most popular places to have a proper dinner is a Mexican restaurant “Sombrédo” where dishes are made following traditional national recipes. If you are not afraid of hot spices, check out the Indian place “Nirwana.” You can find Italian cuisine in the pizza and pasta bar “Lucca” close to the campus, in the restaurant “Fratelli” or the pizzeria “Soprano” in Słubice. On the Polish side, we would also strongly recommend having a cup of coffee or a delicious sandwich in the café “Endorfina”, a cozy place with its own atmosphere and nice service. Finally, if you feel more like having a drink, try outstanding cocktails at “Havana Bar” or play a bit of table football, darts or table tennis with a cold beer in the student’s bar “WG-Bar” – a place where you will definitely find someone from MitOst. Find more tips here.


Books and Movies

As mentioned before, Frankfurt is the birth place of German author and poet Heinrich von Kleist and therefore also called “Kleiststadt” (Kleist town). One of his most famous works is the drama “Der Zerbrochene Krug” (The broken jug). If you are up for some more contemporary impressions of the festival city, you should have a look at the movies “Die Halbe Treppe” or “Lichter,” which are both set in Frankfurt and/or Słubice.