Frankfurt’s “new old town” – The DomRömer Quarter

In former times, Frankfurt was famous not for its skyline, but its historical city centre, which was widely regarded to be one of Germany’s largest and most beautiful mediaeval timber-frame old towns. With the new DomRömer Quarter, the result of a construction project unique in all of Europe, Frankfurt turns back time, reclaiming an important part of its urban history.

DomRömer Project - Reconstruction of Frankfurt’s Old Town
DomRömer Project - Reconstruction of Frankfurt’s Old Town - © HHVISION, DomRömer GmbH

Frankfurt locals have been following the reconstruction of the DomRömer Quarter with great interest. Over the past several years, this section of Frankfurt’s old town, situated between Emperors’ Cathedral and the Römer, has been reconstructed according to its historical blueprints, the builders applying original construction materials, traditional craftsmanship and much care and attention to detail. Moreover, the project will also see a number of decorative elements that survived the air raids of 1944 returned to their former locations.

In bygone times, Frankfurt’s old town was at the centre of the social, economic and political goings-on in both the city and the empire. Markets and international trade fairs were held here, kings were elected and emperors crowned. Situated on the ground floor of the Römer, Frankfurt’s hall, the so-called Römerhallen (“Roman halls”) once served as a famous mediaeval marketplace. During trade fairs, booth space was hired out at extraordinary prices. The Römer continued to be used for these mercantile activities until 1846, at which time the fair business in the city centre came to an end.

Upstairs in the “Ratsstube”, the electoral chamber of the Römer, emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were appointed by the electoral princes of Germany. Once elected, the new sovereigns of the empire were crowned with great fanfare at Frankfurt Cathedral. At the conclusion of the coronation ceremonies, the procession of dignitaries traditionally made their way back to the Römer by way of the so-called Coronation Route, where the official celebrations then took place. This famous route was reopened on 15th October 2016 at the time of the DomRömer Quarter’s official topping-out ceremony.

Germany’s one-time largest mediaeval old town was also the home of many great poets, philosophers and composers, men like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Arthur Schopenhauer, Clemens Brentano, Ludwig Börne and Georg Philipp Telemann. Back in the day, the quarter’s hustle and bustle attracted countless visitors to the city centre, especially when trade fairs and large-scale events were taking place. With the reconstruction of the DomRömer Quarter, this cosmopolitan lifestyle is being brought back to Frankfurt’s old town. Some 15 historical townhouses are being rebuilt, while 20 new buildings are being erected in the typical style of Frankfurt’s old town. Spread out over 7,000 square metres, the “new old town” will feature quaint laneways and plazas, approximately 80 apartments and some 30 shops and restaurants. The project will breathe new life into the old town, bringing people here to live and to work while combining the past and present in a harmonious blend.

The Stadthausam Markt, a modern community centre situated in the heart of the quarter, was opened in the summer of 2016. Conceived as the centrepiece of the new old town, it will serve as a place of congregation and activity. With its 4,000 square metres of floor space, the Stadthaus will host events of most every variety, including festive celebrations, lectures, readings and the like. Aside from its function as an event venue, it will also be the home of the Archaeological Garden. Discovered by chance in the 1950s, the finds on show here include remnants of Roman and Carolingian times as well as the High Middle Ages. Together, they highlight the impressive history of the Main metropolis. Light corridors embedded in the building make it possible for visitors to see these archaeological findings during daylight.

Goldene Waage (“Golden Scales”) is the most famous of the 15 houses being reconstructed true to the original. Built in the classic Renaissance style and featuring a richly ornamented framework, this building was one of the most famous “showhouses” of Frankfurt right up until the Second World War. Its construction was originally commissioned by a Dutch confectioner and spice trader who had relocated to Frankfurt from the Netherlands with his family.

Once completed, the new old town will present itself as a truly unique architectural gem. Today, it already serves as an impressive example of Frankfurt’s ongoing urban development. Construction on the quarter is scheduled to conclude by the end of 2017, with a grand opening expected to be held some time in 2018. A virtual walk along the quarter’s winding laneways is already possible, giving visitors a prototypal look at life in the new old town. (www.domroemer.de/der-film).

Two brand-new city tours have also been conceived, enabling locals and visitors to follow in the footsteps of German kings and emperors while discovering the Frankfurt of former times.

 Press release Frankfurt's new old town  (vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document - 202.47 kB)

The Coronation Route - Following the Footsteps of Kings and Emperors

This two hour city walk covers former electoral sites and festival venues where the coronations were celebrated with much pomp and circumstance

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Frankfurt and the New Old Town

The New Old Town walking tour for groups explains to visitors the concept behind the quarter's restoration

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