Uncovering Frankfurt's New Old Town from the Römer to St. Paul's and more!
Start - The Römerberg
Hello! Guten Tag, and welcome to Frankfurt! My name is Anne and I am going to guide you through the old town. I moved to Frankfurt in 2013 and immediately fell in love with the city.
History is my passion, and there's plenty of it here to absorb. Hopefully, you will come to enjoy the city as much as I do, especially here in Frankfurt's old town; an old town of Holy Roman empire elections and coronations, and of imperial wealth and trade fairs throughout the medieval period. But also it is an old town that was 80% destroyed during WW2. Some replication has taken place, indeed as recently as 2018 and we will be exploring this most recent replication, imaginatively called, “the new old town”, during our tour today. There is a lot to see, so I will be asking you to stop occasionally while I explain a few sights on this tour.
Our starting point is the Römerberg, the old town square. Head over to the fountain in the centre of the square, the Lady Justice fountain, to get a view of Frankfurt's town hall, the large pink sandstone building with a balcony. We will stop here for 5 minutes while I explain a few of the sights.
The town hall is known as the “Römer”. It got its name from the merchant who lived there in the 1300s. He was known for trading with the Italians and the locals would declare they were going to visit “the Roman”, "Zum Römer". The city bought the merchant's house in the early 1400s to use as the town hall and the name Römer has stuck to this day. The main façade dates back to the early 1800s with the balcony and statues of the Holy Roman Emperors being added in 1900.
There is a clock in the centre of the building, look to the left to see a small window with a carving of a single headed eagle below it. The single headed eagle signifies an imperial city, a city owned by the Holy Roman Emperor.
Now look to the right hand side of the clock, to a window with a double headed eagle carved below.
That is the emblem of the Holy Roman Empire itself. You’ll see these emblems all over Frankfurt. The Holy Roman Emperor bestowed trading rights on the city of Frankfurt back in the 1200s. This square, where you are standing was the heart of those trades fairs, and merchants came from all over Europe to trade. Today, one large fair is still celebrated here on the square, the annual Christmas Market!
Stay here at the fountain and turn to face the opposite direction.
The row of "medieval" houses you are looking at were actually erected in the 1980s. This was the first time the city sought to replicate some of the beautiful old houses that had stood here before the war. Take a quick look around you and notice how this square is a mix of pre and post war architectural styles. I'll tell you a little more about the replica medieval houses later on because originally the city did not want to build them.
Now walk towards the ornate, brown, half timbered, house with a turret on the left of the medieval houses. This building was the first “bank” in Frankfurt, which opened in 1585! Take the path that's just to the left of the building.
While you walk, let me briefly explain how VoiceMap works.
It uses your location to play audio automatically at the right time and place. This means you can put your phone away now. Don't worry if I'm silent for a while, this just means we're in between locations. There's a map on your screen if you ever feel lost and if you do get way off track without noticing, VoiceMap will let you know.