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Frankfurt Römerberg

Frankfurt’s historic town hall, called the Römer (“the Roman”), is a beautiful structure in the central city area built in the 15th century and one of the city’s most famous landmarks. It is located at the Römerberg (“Roman Hill”), although it is not known where the names derive from. The Römerberg is the historical core of the town center and was used as a market square from early on. Today, the square and the streets around it are a major tourist attraction, from where several historic buildings and churches are within walking distance. The subway lines 4 and 5 as well as tram lines 11 and 12 have stops at the Römer.  

FRA Roemer

The area had served as the location for the town’s city hall even before the Römer building was completed. The original house with that name is the one in the middle of the structure, while the two adjacent ones were later merged with it. At the end of the 14th century, Frankfurt counted more than 10,000 inhabitants and needed a larger structure to replace the old town hall. It was intended to build a new one, but in the last moment before the work was supposed to begin, the privately held buildings at the market square became available. In 1407, the municipality finally moved in. However, the use of the Römer was not restricted to administrative purposes, but instead it offered room for merchants to sell their goods too, especially at times when fairs took place in town. In subsequent years, the town hall was repeatedly extended and beautified; an effort that was rewarded in 1562, when the city became the coronation place for the Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. This cemented Frankfurt’s important position in the Empire further and it kept drawing new residents, resulting in the need of more space for the municipality. More buildings in the neighborhood were thus purchased and interconnected with the Römer ensemble. In line with the coronation ceremonies and a lasting trend among European rulers for more and more luxurious facilities, the building was altered several times in its appearance inside and outside. The design of the Römer that one sees here today mostly reflects the one of the middle of the 18th century, although the structure had suffered from decay for a long time in the 19th century after the Empire had declined. In World War II air raids, almost the entire Frankfurt Old Town had been destroyed and a number of the historical parts of the building as well as irreplaceable artworks from the interior were lost.

Despite the widespread destruction, diligent work and great efforts after the war enabled a reconstruction that paid attention to historic detail and also managed to create space for municipality offices and city council. Today, the complex consists of nine interconnected buildings with the three-peaked eastern facade being the most famous section. The balcony on the central of these three houses, added in the early 20th century, often serves as a stage for visiting dignitaries or successful sports teams to show themselves to the public. There are more notable elements to the facades of the structure, such as the glass mosaic of phoenix from the ashes, covering three stories of the Salzhaus building, inserted after the war to symbolize the rise of the city after the destruction. Also, there are depictions of four German Emperors and two older versions of the Frankfurt coat of arms.

The most-visited attraction of the Frankfurt Römer however is on the inside. Above the two halls Römerhalle and Schwanenhalle that have remained almost unchanged for some 600 years and that were in earlier times used to host the Frankfurt Book Fair, there is the Kaisersaal (“Emperor Hall”), the exact location were coronations of the Emperors were celebrated in the Middle Ages. The great room is widely known for its complete collection of large oil portraits of all 52 Roman Emperors. The Römer is generally open for visitors with limitations applying in case of events. Visiting the Kaisersaal is possible every day between 10 am and 1 pm and from 2 pm to 5 pm, subject to changes on short notice. There is a small fee required to enter the Kaisersaal.