Market (Frankfurt am Main)

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old market
coat of arms
Street in Frankfurt am Main
View from the market towards the Römer town hall, around 1910
Basic data
place Frankfurt am Main
District Old town
Created 13th Century
Newly designed 1970 to 1974, 2011 to 2018
Hist. Names Kramgasse
Connecting roads Cathedral Square, Römerberg
Cross streets Höllgasse, Tuchgaden, Lange Schirn, Goldhutgasse, Hinter dem Lämmchen , Drachengasse, Schwertfegergasse, Rapunzelgasse
Places Chicken market
Buildings Haus zur Goldenen Waage , Hof Rebstock , Red House , Stone House , Big and Little Angel ; Technical Town Hall (†)
Technical specifications
Street length 150 m

The market , often also called the Alter Markt , is a historically significant street in the old town of Frankfurt am Main . It runs from the Domplatz at the Kaiserdom St. Bartholomäus over the chicken market to the Römerberg . From the Middle Ages to its destruction by the air raids on Frankfurt am Main in 1944, it formed the most important east-west traffic axis in the old city center. After their coronation in the cathedral , the emperors moved across the market to the Römerberg, which is why the market is now sometimes referred to as the coronation path.

After the war, initially a rubble wasteland, with the construction of the Dom / Römer underground station and the Technical Town Hall in the early 1970s, the site was redesigned so that the street character was no longer recognizable. After the technical town hall was demolished, the old town center was rebuilt as part of the Dom-Römer project by the end of 2017. After more than 70 years, the historic road network including the market was reconstructed.


An overview map from 1906 - The location of the market can be seen in the middle
The view from the market towards Römerberg 2006

The market was part of the regular street grid of the old town, which was created in the Staufer era from the end of the 12th century and connected the large squares with one another. Between the cathedral and the Römer, three east-west axes ran roughly parallel to the Main : the market between Domplatz and Römerberg in the north, the Bendergasse between Krautmarkt and Römerberg in the middle and finally the Saalgasse between Weckmarkt and Römerberg in the south. Of these axes, the market was the busiest and most important. Its extension east of the Domplatz in the direction of Fahrgasse formed the Kannengießergasse , its western extension over the Römerberg in the direction of Paulsplatz the narrow Wedelgasse .

The chicken market opened on the north side of the market halfway between the cathedral and the Römerberg . Several alleys branched off to the south. From east to west these were the Höllgasse between Domplatz and Krautmarkt, the alley Unter den Tuchgaden , the Lange Schirn , as well as three narrow alleys that met again in the south at Fünffingerplätze : Goldhutgasse , Drachengasse and Schwertfegergasse . Shortly before the Römerberg, Rapunzelgasse branched off to the south. It ran directly behind the houses on Römerberg-Ostzeile, whose facades already faced the Römerberg. Of all these streets, only Drachengasse, Schwertfegergasse and Rapunzelgasse are currently recognizable. They were rebuilt in the early 1980s during the reconstruction of the Römerberg-Ostzeile.

Shortly before the Römerberg at the level of the stone house , the market expanded to a small place that officially had no name of its own, but was generally referred to as the herb market . This is where the street Hinter dem Lämmchen , which begins at the chicken market and runs parallel to the north, meets the market.

At the important street corners there were striking buildings that were among the most important in Frankfurt. The house at Goldenen Waage ( Markt 5 ) was on the corner of Höllgasse. The New Red House ( Markt 17 ), located next to the Red House ( Markt 15 ) opposite the Hühnermarkt, was built on three oak pillars, so that the ground floor formed an open passage to the Tuchgaden and Langen Schirn. The stone house ( Markt 44 ) was, as its name suggests, an exception among the medieval Frankfurt town houses, which were otherwise predominantly half-timbered over a ground floor made of red Main sandstone . A particularly splendid example of this architectural style is the Großer and Kleiner Engel house, which was rebuilt from 1981 to 1983 according to historical plans at the western end of the market on the corner with the Römerberg. It is undoubtedly one of the most frequently depicted houses in Frankfurt's old town.


View from Domplatz to the west, around 1900. On the left the house at Goldenen Waage , on the right Markt 8, the main entrance to the Rebstock farm on the market
Carl Abt: Old Market from the West, 1908

The area around the market is one of the oldest residential areas in Frankfurt. Topographically, it was characterized by two hills that rose a few meters above the swampy lowland on the right bank of the Main and are still clearly recognizable today: the cathedral hill and the Saturday mountain . Due to their somewhat flood-proof location near the ford , which gave the city its name, they were settled regularly since the Neolithic and continuously since ancient times. Remains of the Roman settlement on the cathedral hill were excavated after the Second World War. Between the two hills, for example along the Langen Schirn , there was probably a watercourse that connected the main stream of the Main with a branch to the north, the Braubach . The watercourses silted up in the early Middle Ages and were later channeled or filled in.

middle Ages

Between Höllgasse and Langer Schirn, the market runs roughly on the northern edge of the Carolingian royal palace of Frankfurt . Remnants of the Palatinate were found in 1953 during excavations in the basement of the house at Goldene Waage, which was destroyed in the bombing war . According to an older view, it fell into disrepair in the first half of the 11th century, possibly due to a fire that must have occurred between 1017 and 1045. After that, in the second half of the 12th century at the latest, the Palatinate was completely abandoned and its remains built over, whereby the building material was reused. According to more recent research, parts of the Carolingian King's Hall, on the other hand, could have existed, at least as ruins, until the 13th or early 14th century. The later development in the Höllgasse and Markt area was in any case based on the Palatinate, while the Tuchgaden to the west of it ran across the Palatinate area.

Under the rule of the Hohenstaufen the political importance of Frankfurt increased again. This was accompanied by rapid growth of the city in the 13th century, which now extended to a much larger area within the Staufen wall . The streets created during this time form a clearly recognizable grid of three north-south axes ( Fahrgasse , Neue Kräme and Kornmarkt , from east to west) and six east-west axes with the market in the center. Its location favored the settlement of trading shops, so-called general stores or kitchens , which were used mainly for the handling of goods during the Frankfurt trade fair . In 1296, an interest book from Bartholomäusstift names the entire street between Fahrgasse and Römerberg as vicus Apothecae . The name vicus Institorum appears throughout the 14th century . The corresponding German name was Krämergasse or Kramgasse .

Imperial coronations

The alley took on a special meaning every time a new emperor had to be elected. The majority of the elections had already taken place in Frankfurt since 1147, so that a customary law gradually emerged: When one wil kiunig kiesen, daz sol one tuon ze Frankenfurt. This right was enshrined once and for all with the Golden Bull in 1356. From 1376 to 1792 there were 16 elections in Frankfurt. On the day of the election, the seven gathered electors for a general ringing of church bells Frankfurt in Romans to apply to their wedding clothes. From there they went across the market to the Bartholomäuskirche, where the election and appointment of the Roman king took place. The subsequent coronation as emperor traditionally took place in Aachen , not until 1562 also in Frankfurt. After the coronation, the emperor left the cathedral and went again in solemn procession across the market to the Römerberg, where the symbolic ore offices were carried out and the people cheered the new ruler.

Modern times

View of the market during canal works, 1867
Anton Burger: The Schirn on the Alter Markt, 1869

Since the early 17th century, the weekly markets no longer took place on the Römerberg, but in the Krämergasse. The earlier name therefore gradually fell out of use, instead the busy residential and commercial street was now simply called Markt . The majority of the partly splendid half-timbered houses came from the 16th to 18th centuries or had at least been modernized or rebuilt during this period. The Tuchgaden was a center of the clothing and cloth trade, the butchers had their stalls in the New Red House and in the Langen Schirn . The Gothic Schildknecht / Spiegel house on the corner of the Hühnermarkt with its huge overhang of almost two meters was the seat of the shoemaker's guild .

The young Johann Wolfgang Goethe got to know the hustle and bustle in this quarter as often as he visited his aunt Melber , who lived in the Haus zum Esslinger on the chicken market. He described his stay there in detail in his autobiography From My Life. Poetry and truth .

When he was still old, he made Mephisto scoff at the narrow alley:

I chose such a capital
In the core citizen-food horror.
Crooked alleys, steep gables,
Limited market, cabbage, beets, onions;
Meatballs where the thugs live
To eat the fat roasts;
There you will find anytime
Certainly stench and activity.
( Faust. The tragedy, part two, fourth act. High mountains)

In the course of the 19th century, many wealthy citizens moved to the new districts outside the ramparts . Mainly small craftsmen and working-class families moved to the old town, including the market. The neighborhood remained densely populated until World War II. The major road breakthroughs of Braubachstraße and Bethmannstraße early 20th century did not affect the market. In 1898 the city of Frankfurt acquired the important half-timbered house Zur Goldenen Waage and had it restored. A branch of the History Museum has been located here since 1913 .

Destruction and Post War

View from the cathedral onto the open area of ​​the former old town - the ruins of the stone house can be seen on the right; View from 1956
View from the cathedral towards the Römer on the market, June 1988
View from the cathedral tower, April 2018

On March 22, 1944, an air raid destroyed the historic old town. In the quarter between the cathedral and the Römer, all the houses burned out, including on the market. However, many of the residents were able to save themselves from the flames. Most of the medieval Frankfurt houses had very solid vaulted cellars, which were relatively well protected against explosive bombs and which had been connected to one another since 1940. In this way they formed an underground network. Many survivors were able to flee before the firestorm in the direction of the Main bank or to get out at the justice fountain on the Römerberg.

The stone ground floors of many houses had survived the firestorm. Furnishings or facade decorations that were significant in terms of art history were in some cases removed in good time before the air raids. In addition, exact plans and photographic documentation existed for a number of houses. A reconstruction of the destroyed old town would have been possible in principle, but the Frankfurt magistrate decided as early as May 1947 that a comprehensive restoration, apart from a few striking monuments, was out of the question. In the area between the cathedral and the Römer, the rubble was completely cleared by 1950, and a number of preserved spoils were destroyed or sold.

While the general reconstruction in the old town began in 1952 and was largely completed in 1960, the area between the cathedral and the Römer remained fallow, the future shape of which was long debated. Excavations in the 1950s expanded knowledge of the Roman, Merovingian, Carolingian and late medieval history of the area.

In 1963, the city announced an architectural competition with tight specifications for the future design of the Dom-Römer area. About half of the area was to be taken up by an administrative building for the city's technical offices , plus other publicly used buildings. The winning design came from the Frankfurt office of Bartsch-Thürwächter-Weber. He divided the entire area between the cathedral and the Römer into four areas: the administration building was to be built in the north between Braubachstrasse and Markt, two compact structures to the south of the market, which were divided by a lane roughly at the level of the former Langen Schirn , and an exhibition hall in the east of the Römerberg. Based on its role as a historical coronation path, the market was to be expanded into a broad, straight line of sight between the cathedral and the Römer.

For financial reasons it was not implemented for the time being. It was not until the end of the 1960s that the plan was taken up again in the course of the underground construction . In 1970/71 the Dom / Römer underground station was built, including a two-storey underground car park above it. Due to the existing time pressure, the construction work did not take archaeological research into account, only the remains of the Roman settlement and the royal palace, which were uncovered in the 1950s, were preserved as an archaeological garden .

The ceiling of the underground car park was more than two meters above the previous floor level. In addition, the concrete pillars of the underground car park were extended by about one meter above the new floor level because they were to serve as the foundations for the planned large-scale structures. This created the so-called hump zone , which shaped the cityscape between the cathedral and the Römer for over ten years.

From 1972 to 1974 the Technical Town Hall was built north of the market . From the beginning it was one of the most controversial buildings in Frankfurt's post-war history. After a change of power in the local elections in 1977, the previous plans for the reconstruction of the Dom-Römer site were not pursued. Instead, a building complex of reconstructed houses on the east side of the Römerberg and two blocks behind in the proportions of the former old town houses, but in the style of postmodernism , was built above the Höckerzone in the early 1980s . For the first time since the destruction, the market was given the character of a street again in places, especially since the old street names Drachengasse , Schwertfegergasse and Rapunzelgasse were revived. At the same time, however, the new construction of the monumental, 140-meter-long and 10-meter-wide Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt prevented further small-scale development in the eastern part of the market.

The Haus am Dom , an educational, cultural and conference center of the Limburg diocese , which was built between 2004 and 2006 , protrudes several meters at its southern end over the former northern building line of the market.


View from the chicken market to the cathedral. Links new paradise , right Little Vogelsang and Green Linde
View from the Red House towards the chicken market. From the right the houses Rotes Haus , Neues Paradies , Kleines Seligeneck , Schlegel
View from the house "to the three Romans" towards the cathedral

In 2005 the city council decided to demolish the technical town hall instead of the previously considered renovation, which took place from 2010 to 2012. After long discussions about the future of the Dom-Römer area , the city council decided in 2007 to erect 35 new buildings on historical parcels in the approximately 7,000 square meter area between Braubachstrasse, Dom and Schirn, including 15 reconstructions of former old town houses. As part of the Dom-Römer project, the former streets Markt and Hinter dem Lämmchen as well as the chicken market were rebuilt. In order to keep the archaeological garden accessible, the area was built over with a complex of five individual buildings called the town house on the market , which at the same time have to bridge the two-meter difference between the street levels on the market and the Schirn art gallery.

After a lengthy planning phase and an architectural competition, the decision was made in early 2012 to reconstruct the following houses: Markt 5 ( Haus zur Goldenen Waage ), Markt 13 ( Green Linden ), Markt 15 ( Old Red House ), Markt 17 ( New Red House ), Market 28 ( Würzgarten ), Hinter dem Lämmchen 2 ( Haus zum Esslinger ), Hinter dem Lämmchen 4 ( Alter Esslinger ), Hinter dem Lämmchen 6 ( Goldenes Lämmchen ), Hinter dem Lämmchen 8 ( Klein-Nürnberg ), Hühnermarkt 20 ( Zur Flechte ) , Hühnermarkt 22 ( Goldene Schere ), Hühnermarkt 24 ( Eichhorn ), Hühnermarkt 26 ( Schlegel ), Braubachstrasse 19 ( Rebstock house ) and Braubachstrasse 21.

Construction work began in early 2013 with the townhouse , which was completed in June 2016. The other buildings were completed by the end of 2017. The entire length of the market has been open to the public again since May 9, 2018.

The first house on the north side, separated from the house at the cathedral by a narrow passage to the Rebstock courtyard on Markt , is the Großer Rebstock house (Markt 8), a design by Jordi Keller Architects , Berlin. The five-story house is exactly opposite the Golden Scales . The two arcades on the ground floor form the eastern entrance to the Dom / Römer underground station . Reinforced concrete spoils of the Technical Town Hall are inserted into the facade. The narrow building Schönau (Markt 10) adjoining to the west is a design by Ey's Berlin office . With its sandstone plinth and four cantilevered, slatted upper floors, it is reminiscent of old Frankfurt town houses. The Vorderer Schildknecht house (Markt 12) was designed by Dreibund architects from Bochum and is very similar to the Goldenes Haupt house (Markt 36) designed by the same office . Their upper floors are reminiscent of the town houses on Saalgasse that were built in the 1980s . A particularly striking slate facade carries the corner house to the Hühnermarkt, Neues Paradies (Markt 14). by Johannes Götz and Guido Lohmann from Cologne.

On the south side, the house at the Goldene Waage is followed by the house Weißer Bock (Markt 7). It serves to develop the Golden Scales, which does not have its own staircase. and comes from Helmut Riemann, Lübeck. The Stoltze Museum will have its new location here from October . The Kleiner Vogelsang house is a semi-detached house (Markt 9 and 11), also by Dreibund-Architekten. The baroque gable shape of the western semi-detached house leads to the neighboring building Markt 13, the replica of the green linden tree . The building, first mentioned in 1439, was rebuilt in baroque style in the 18th century. Before it was destroyed, it housed a well-known inn; today there is a wine bar here . With their traufständigen Baroque façade that characterizes Green Linde the southern edge of the chicken market. Two plastered half-timbered upper floors, each with six window axes, rise above a high ground floor made of sandstone with the typical Frankfurt bobsleigh . The mansard roof bears a wide dwelling with four windows and a triangular gable. The design comes from Claus Giel, Dieburg.

To the west of the Green Linden tree, two more replicas of important models follow, known as the New Red House (Markt 15) and the Red House (Markt 17). The Red House, first mentioned in 1322, probably came from the 14th century, the neighbor from the 16th century. The two houses were connected inside, the Red House did not have its own entrance. With its ground floor construction consisting essentially of only three oak wood columns, which carried the entire weight of the three-story building above, the Red House was unique in the entire German half-timbered landscape and an attraction well known far beyond the city. It was considered an outstanding example of medieval urban planning and public spirit. The Red House stood at the entrance to the butcher's quarter on the Langen Schirn , where Frankfurter sausages have been sold since ancient times . The new building is also used by a butcher's shop.

The south-western corner house at Hühnermarkt is called Schlegel (Markt 26). It is a replica of a predecessor built around 1830 in the strict design language of the classicist building code issued by city architect Johann Georg Christian Hess in 1809 . The western neighbor Würzgarten (Markt 28) originally came from the 16th century. It is a typical Frankfurt plastered half-timbered house with a two-storey, slatted gable, which has a characteristic cantilever directly under the roof ridge, the Frankfurt nose .

The old department store (Markt 30) is a design by Morger and Dettli from Basel. The three-story building with a pointed gable is formally reduced to the utmost. With the houses Goldene Schachtel (Markt 32) by Tillmann Wagner Architects from Berlin, Alter Burggraf (Markt 34), Goldenes Haupt (Markt 36) and City of Milan (Markt 38), four more new buildings are connected to the west. On the south side of the market there is a two meter high wall crowned by a sandstone pergola in this section to compensate for the height difference to the Schirn. The western end of the new building area is formed by the house to the three Romans (Markt 40) by Jordi Keller Architects with its three sides facing the market, the Römerberg and the alley Hinter dem Lämmchen. Various spoilers are built into the ground floor and the gable end. One of them is reminiscent of Dieter Bartetzko , who, as a member of the design advisory board , campaigned for the reconstruction of the old town.

Web links

Commons : Market  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Johann Georg Battonn : Local description of the city of Frankfurt am Main - Volume III. Association for history and antiquity in Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt am Main 1864, pp. 159–212. ( online )
  • Georg Hartmann , Fried Lübbecke : Old Frankfurt. A legacy. Sauer and Auvermann publishing house, Glashütten 1971
  • Fried Lübbecke: The face of the city - according to Frankfurt's plans by Faber, Merian u. Delkeskamp; 1552–1864 , Waldemar Kramer Verlag , Frankfurt am Main 1952/1983, ISBN 3-7829-0276-9

Individual evidence

  1. Stadtvermessungsamt Frankfurt am Main (ed.): Portal GeoInfo Frankfurt , city ​​map
  2. Egon Wamers : On the archeology of Frankfurt's old town - The archaeological garden. In: Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area . Theiss, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-8062-0585-X , pp. 154–159 ( Guide to Archaeological Monuments in Germany , Volume 19)
  3. Ernst Mack: From the Stone Age to the Staufer City. The early history of Frankfurt am Main . Knecht, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-7820-0685-2 , p. 121 ff.
  4. A detailed description of the decline of the Carolingian Palatinate with all references can be found in the article on the Königspfalz Frankfurt .
  5. a b Battonn, Slave Narratives Frankfurt - Volume III. , P. 160
  6. Schwabenspiegel , Chapter 129
  7. ^ Hans-Reiner Müller-Raemisch: Frankfurt am Main. Urban development and planning history since 1945 . Campus, Frankfurt / New York 1998, ISBN 3-593-35918-9 , p. 342f.
  8. ^ Dom-Römer-Projekt: The creative replicas
  9. ^ Dietrich-Wilhelm Dreysse, Volkmar Hepp, Björn Wissenbach, Peter Bierling: Planning area Dom - Römer. Documentation old town. City Planning Office of the City of Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt am Main 2006, House 39 (p. 74) ( online ; PDF; 14.8 MB)
  10. Before it was destroyed in 1944, the house was called Markt 17 Neues Rotes Haus am Markt , the neighboring house was called Markt 15 Altes Rotes Haus . The name change corresponds to the designation in Dreyse, Hepp, Wissenbach, Bierling: Documentation Altstadt Haus 40 (p. 74) and Haus 41 (p. 76-77)
  11. Matthias Alexander, Rainer Schulze, Helmut Fricke: The newest old town in the world . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . May 9, 2018 ( [accessed May 13, 2018]).

Coordinates: 50 ° 6 ′ 39 ″  N , 8 ° 41 ′ 2 ″  E