Tuesday 15th April 2014
The “Painted House” is another of the cider institutions that abound in the Frankfurt suburb of Sachsenhausen. It is to be found on Schweizer Strasse, just a few doors down from another well-known cider house, Apfelwein Wagner.
You can’t miss it, as it has a wonderful ornate sign surmounted with a clock. In fact, the whole facade is reminiscent of art nouveau. Over the entrance there’s a beautiful stained glass panel acting as the pub’s sign, also in the same style.
Inside is equally impressive and as you walk down the corridor leading to the main part of the house. On the left side there are long wooden benches against the wall with tables and loose chairs facing. Huge landscape paintings adorn the walls.
Although the pub was known as the painted house a long time ago, most of the paintings in the main room, corridor and yard were executed between 1951 and 1952 by locally-born artist Hans Schneider.
The corridor opens out into a courtyard which on this visit was covered by a large canvas canopy. Again the arrangement of benches and tables is the same as the corridor. There is a tree in the middle of the yard and high up the walls there are more frieze paintings of rustic scenes depicting hunting, shooting, fishing, etc.
From this yard you enter the pub proper and it is a bit of a classic. The windows are of leaded stained glass and depict drinking scenes and country animals such as the deer and fox.
Not surprisingly wood dominates the interior decor and it is all highly varnished. Similar bench seats to those outside face scrubbed wooden tables. There is some intricate panelling up the walls and this is surmounted by paintings of tavern scenes.
On a shelf there is an effigy that looks like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz except that he is made of wood and copper.
His body is a barrel and where his belly button should be there is a tap so I guess he is a container for draught cider. The resemblance to the film character comes about because he wears an upturned funnel on his head, see photograph.
There are many other artefacts to be seen including many traditional blue and grey ceramic jugs for dispensing cider.
The Gemalten Haus has been around since the late 19th century. In 1936 it was leased by Alfred Ullmer and his wife Anna.
He came from Miltenberg in the Main valley and some of the paintings inside the pub record views of the town.
He was a cooper by trade and continued in charge to the 1970s when he was succeeded by his daughter Ingrid and her husband Rigobert Hanauske.
After she died in a house accident in the late 2000s she was followed by her daughter Iris Vec, of the family’s third generation.
A very notable feature of this house is that they press their own fruit in the cellar. Throughout the autumn apples arrive at the rear of the pub in Diestenweg to go to the cellar. After the juice has been extracted it is fermented in fourteen large wooden barrels.
The first of the new season’s cider is normally available around Christmas time and early in the New Year there is an official ceremony to launch it.
Apart from the cider there is an extensive wine list and various spirits distilled from fruit, but no beer! I cannot recommend this pub enough. It is quite stunning and feels like it has been frozen in time. Don’t miss it if you are in the city.
Zum Gemalten Haus, Schweizer Strasse 67, Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen. Tel: 069 6031457
Open: Tuesday-Sunday 10.00-23.00; Monday: Closed.
The pub is less than ten minutes walk from Frankfurt Süd station and that is the best way to get to the pub. Trams 15, 16 and 19 run close by, also the 78 bus. 15 and 16 pass the front of the Hauptbahnhof (main station)
Frankfurt Süd is served by S-Bahn lines S5 and S6, U-Bahn lines U1, U2, U3, U8 and main line trains.