Frankfurt am Main   

A little more about German History -- Olde Frankfurt Page

Labor Olympiad 1925 
Red flag is appropriate Frankfurt am Main, largest city in Hesse, has an urban area that encompasses perhaps 2.5 million souls. The larger Frankfurt-Rhine-Main Region has a population well over 5 million people. Frankfurt, a center for transportation (rail, highway and air), lies in the former American Occupation Zone of Germany. It was from Frankfurt that West Berlin first was provisioned during the Soviet blockade of that city in 1948-49. The three pillars of Frankfurt's economy are finance (stock exchange, European Central Bank and Federal (German) Bank), transport and its variety of trade fairs (notably the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, the world's largest motor show, and the Frankfurter Buchmesse, the world's largest and oldest book-sale event). Webcams link

In the old-city area of the Römer, settlements took hold, probably in the 1st century at a traditional ford in the river Main across from today's Sachsenhausen. After a campaign against the tribe of the Chatti in 80 AD, the Rhine-Main area finally became a bucolic part of the Roman Empire. The Chatten clan moved on, some eventually settling in Scotland. A fortified military camp and supply base were set up in Nida and on the Domhügel (Cathedral Hill, now part of Frankfurt). In 110 AD the Nida garrison was moved to the Roman border in Saalburg in the Taunus region, and the fort was replaced by a civilian settlement. Nida (modern Heddernheim) became the administrative centre of the „civitas tauniensium“ of this farming region -- A Chronology: Prehistory and Early Middle Ages (and more). Nearby Mainz was the principle garrison town of historic upper Germany, downriver where the Main River and Rhein intersected. The Alemanni and Frank tribes inhabited the area. By 794AD Charlemagne presided over an imperial assembly and church synod, at which the name Franconofurd first was mentioned. Frankfurt became one of the most important cities in the Holy Roman Empire, as from 855AD German kings and emperors were elected in Frankfurt and crowned in Aachen (after the mid 16th Century the coronation took place in Frankfurt, too). The elections and coronations took place in the Cathedral, Dom Sankt Bartholomäus, also known as the Kaiserdom (the Emperor's Cathedral), or within its predecessor Merovingian structure. Next to the Cathedral, which retains its comanding presence over the older city, are a few visible Roman-era remains (foundations from the first roman baths) and the foundations from the Carolingian-era imperial palace.

Paulskirche (in Frankfurt) retains its important political symbolism. Opened as a Protestant church in 1789, coincidentally the same year as the French Revolution, in 1848-1849 it became the seat of the Frankfurt Parliament (after the rebellion, the first publicly and freely elected body of Germany. During World War II, the Paulskirche nearly was destroyed fully along with much of the Frankfurt Innenstadt. It became the first major structure to be rebuilt in Frankfurt after the war, reopening on the 100th anniversary of the first meeting of the Frankfurt Parliament. Fire or bombs destroyed over one thousand buildings of the old town, most of them being half-timbered houses. The cathedral suffered from severe damage. The interior burned completely (similar to the fire of 1867). The Römer (city-hall) and Römerberg (town square structures) were lost in a similar fashion (and later rebuilt).

The historic centre-city (altstadt) now rebuilt, retains much of its pre-war medieval architecture-style around the Römerplatz. The Cathedral was reconstructed in the 50's. The famous old opera house (Alte Oper), built in 1880 by the architect und Direktor der Berliner Bauakademie, Richard Lucæ (1829-77), sits a good distance from the olde-city. It was one of the major opera houses in Germany until it too was damaged heavily in World War II. Until the late 1970s it remained a ruin, only reopening in 1981 as a concert hall. In contrast, the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (dating from 1749) was rebuilt to is previous form in 1947.

Aye fond memory (this written ten years after): Sunday afternoon, walking back from the Cathedral and Römerplatz, after just arriving that day from the States, I was tired and it was warm. We were trying to stay awake so we could get a good night's rest. No one was on the streets. The city seemed empty. I began to hear music, barely at first -- sounded like Pavarotti -- someone on a side street had the stereo turned up full blast, no doubt, with windows open. The sound ricocheted off the solid walls of nearby buildings. The quality was great, sounded so real. For those of you who know the area, you might remember the private investment banking concern that had a walled compound on one of the streets near the Paulskirche. Today, rather that day, the gate to the compound was open with a few well-dressed guards standing by. We looked into the courtyard, from where the music clearly originated -- well you can guess the rest. For a few well-healed clients a party was ongoing, and the Mæstro performed -- sounded so real.

The history of Frankfurt is detailed, so that what is reported here, only quite briefly covers it. In the proximity of Frankfurt one can find hill-graves of pre-historic age. Reminders of the Celtic culture, which date to 4th century BC, consit of some stone barriers on the Altkönig in the Taunus mountain. There one will find further remains from Roman times, the (Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes), and remains of attached garrison-forts, one of which, the Saalburg, faithfully has been reconstructed for visiting. Pictures of some of the Roman finds in Frankfurt are HERE.

The Archæological Museum (Archäologische Museum Frankfurt) is dedicated to researching, presenting and informing about the prehistoric, roman, mediæval and more recent archæology of Frankfurt and its surrounding countryside. Since 1969, the museum has used the Gothic Karmeliterkirche (former Church of Our Lady, west of but not far from the Römerplatz) -– which was rebuilt by Josef Paul Kleihues, along with the newly-built adjoining wings. Roman monuments (a lapidarium or stele and other enscribed funerary and non-funerary stones) are displayed in the southern section of the former monastery's cloister.

The area of Bornheim is a residential quarter a couple of km NE from the city zoo, with a lively market and exquisite medieval houses that survived the war damage (unlike similar structures in the Innenstadt). The most significant (and lively) street is the Berger Straße, which runs from downtown all the way into the oldest parts of Bornheim. The more central downtown part of the Berger Straße (actually in the Nordend district) features a variety of trendy little stores, cafés, and restaurants, whereas the older parts of Bornheim are famous for its historic Ebbelwoi (or Ebbelwei-a local name for cider in Hessen-Speak) taverns.

Or, in the other direction, you may try the Wurst at the old-time apfelwein (ebbelwei) bars in Sachsenhausen. The Three Kings Church (Dreikönigskirche) is a Protestant church (evangelische kirche) in the Frankfurt area. The neo-Gothic structure (neugotischen Stil - 1875 to 1880) was based on an idea of Dombaumeister Franz Josef Ritter von Denzinger on the southern Main bank (in the suburb of Sachsenhausen). There are a whole string of Museums along this same reach of the river across from the old city.

February 18, 1807, marks the passing of Sophie von La Roche (née Gutermann von Gutershofen, Dec. 6, 1731, Kaufbeuern in Bavaria) in Offenbach am Main, in Hessen (Germany). Offenbach sits across the river from eastern side of Frankfurt. La Roche's novel Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim (1771) [The History of Lady Sophia Sternheim (translation: London 1776)] was the first novel written by a German woman. La Roche was the cousin of Christoph Martin Wieland and the grandmother of Bettina von Arnim and Clemens Brentano.

Downtown Map -- Map: Hesse

A few German Cities: Trier and Aachen -- Mainz -- Essen -- Dresden -- Duisburg, Düsseldorf und Dortmund -- Köln / Cologne -- Düren, Bonn und Koblenz -- Lörrach {twin city of Sens} -- Baden-Baden, Karlsruhe, Speyer, Kaiserslautern und Saarbrücken -- Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Stuttgart und Tübingen -- Mannheim, Worms, Darmstadt und Würzburg -- Magdeburg, Halle (Saale), Dessau und Leipzig -- Münster -- Lübeck, Kiel, Rostock und Schwerin -- Fulda, Kassel und Erfurt

Switzerland: Geneva -- Bern, Basel and Zürich

Germaniæ Historiæ -- Celtic/Frank History -- Anglo Saxons

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