Römerberg (Roman Hill) flanked by half-timbered houses, is the central and most beautiful square in Frankfurt’s Altstadt (Old Town). Since the 9th century, the Römerberg, formerly called the Samstagsberg, has been the site of markets and fairs, tournaments and festivals, executions and imperial elections and coronations.
Römer On the west side of Römerberg is Römer, consists of three different structures with stepped gables, originally built between the 15th and 18th century in Gothic style.
The houses were acquired by the city council on March 11, 1405 from a wealthy merchant family. The middle house became the city hall and was later connected with the eleven neighbouring buildings, resulting in a rather confusing interior.
Like all of the historic Römerberg, the Römer suffered serious damage in the Second World War. Its reconstruction began in 1945, and it was reopened by president Theodor Heuss in 1955. It was not until 1975 that the city restored the Römer’s famous 3-gabled façade to its condition in 1897.
The central building, known as ‘Zum Römer’ gave the town hall its name. ‘Zum Römer’ means ‘at the Roman’, refers to the Roman settlements that existed here long before the city of Frankfurt was founded. The building on the left is known as Alt-Limpurg and the one on the right is named Löwenstein.
p.s. The Haus Römer Façade shows the four kaisers of the Holy Roman Empire, two city coats of arms, a clock face, and a placard describing the most important facts about the building. The four Kaisers are Frederick Barbarossa (the first king to be elected in Frankfurt), Louis the Bavarian (who gave convention rights to the city and allowed an expansion of the city), Charles IV (who made Frankfurt the location of the Kaiser Selection vote), and Maximilian II (the first Kaiser to be crowned in Frankfurt cathedral). Like the neo-gothic façade, the balcony was added after the rebuilding in 1900, replacing a wooden roof. The balcony was and is used as a public stage for state visits and sporting events.
The Salzhaus (Salt House)—In contrast to the other houses in the complex, the architects created a completely new design using a combination of medieval timber framing and modern styles. The mosaics in the timber frames feature the motif of a phoenix, a symbol for modern Frankfurt’s new start after the war.
Ostzeile The east side of the Römerberg, opposite the Römer is known as the Ostzeile.
Each house has its own name recalls its great and proud history (from left to right): Zum Engel at nr 28, where Frankfurt’s first bank was established in the 17th century, Goldener Greif at nr 26, Wilder Mann at nr 24, Kleiner Dachsberg-Schlüssel at nrs 20-22, Großer Laubenberg at nr 18 and finally Kleiner Laubenberg at nr 16, right next to the Alte Nikolaikirche.
The Ostzeile is a row of six picturesque half-timbered houses are reconstructions of the original 15th and 16th century houses, most of which were rebuilt or expanded in the 18th century. In March of 1944 bombardments flattened the whole historic district, including the Römerberg. Some of the historic buildings, like the Römer, were reconstructed soon after the war. The Ostzeile however wasn’t rebuilt until 1981-1983 when the houses were reconstructed following historical models.
A renowned apple wine inn was opened in the premises in 1869, which was bought in 1902 by the most original of all innkeepers in Frankfurt, Josef Schweitzer. He renamed the inn the Zum Standesämtchen. The new Standesämtchen re-opened on 24 November1983 and today is owned by the experienced restaurateur Herbert Kröpl.
老尼古拉教堂Alte Nikolaikirche Alte Nikolaikirche is located at the southern end of Römerberg, right in front of the Historisches Museum.
The double-aisle brightly coloured red and white Early Gothic church was consecrated in 1290 and used as a court church to the Stauferpfalz Palace and later the town council until the late 15th century.
p.s. The tower has 51 bells, 4 are used for peal and 47 are used for carillons, chiming every day at 9:05, 12:05 and 17:05.
Justitia-oder Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen The first Fountain of Justice in front of the Römer was inaugurated in 1543 – a monument to the city’s self-image. In 1611, the sculptor Johann Hocheisen created the current eight-cornered fountain and the figure from red sandstone. It is the oldest fountain in Frankfurt.
Since the coronation of Emperor Matthias in 1612, water has flowed from the breasts of 4 water nymphs on the corners of the statue’s pedestal as a symbol of fertility. p.s. During imperial coronations, it flowed with red and white wine for the citizens in the square to enjoy.
After the Thirty Years War and again in the 19th century, the fountain and the statue needed to be replaced. The current Justitia, which is made of bronze, was funded by a Frankfurt wine merchant (1887 by Friedrich Schierholz). Her eyes are not bound, and she holds up scales and a sword.
p.s. Art in Public Space: