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Messe Frankfurt GmbH

legal form Company with limited liability
Seat Frankfurt am Main , Germany
management Wolfgang Marzin (chairman),
Uwe Behm,
Detlef Braun
Number of employees More than 2,500 employees
sales around 718 million euros
Branch Trade shows

Messe Torhaus and Messeturm in the evening
Frankfurt Exhibition Center - view from above

The Messe Frankfurt is the world's largest trade fair, congress and event organizer with its own site. The group of companies has a sales network of 30 subsidiaries and more than 60 sales partners, responsible for 188 countries. In 2018, Messe Frankfurt organized 148 trade fairs and exhibitions, 101 of them abroad. The services range from renting out premises, through exhibition stand construction and marketing, to personnel services and catering. The company's headquarters are in Frankfurt am Main. The shareholders are the city of Frankfurt with 60 percent and the state of Hesse with 40 percent.

Today's Messe Frankfurt GmbH was founded in 1907 by the city of Frankfurt am Main and 16 Frankfurt citizens as an exhibition and festival hall company . The capital of three million gold marks (equivalent to around 18.3 million euros today ) was raised half by the city and the citizen. The city bought back the private shares in the company in accordance with the contract until 1917 and was the sole shareholder from 1918 to 1951. From 1920 to 1983 the trade fair company operated under the company name Messe- und Exposition-Gesellschaft mbH. The state of Hesse has been a partner in Messe Frankfurt since 1951:

Size and location

In terms of exhibition space, Frankfurt am Main is the third largest exhibition center in the world after Hanover and the National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC) Shanghai: on 592,127 square meters of floor space, 11 halls with 393,838 square meters of exhibition space and around 60,000 square meters of outdoor space are available.

The exhibition center in the west of Frankfurt is in the districts of Bockenheim and Westend-Süd . In the south it borders the Gallusviertel, in particular its development area “ Europaviertel (Frankfurt am Main) ”, and in the west the Kuhwaldsiedlung adjoins it. It has a direct motorway connection ( federal motorway 648 ) and parking spaces on the Rebstock site . It can be reached by public transport via the underground and tram stop Festhalle / Messe (lines U4, 16 and 17) and the S-Bahn station Frankfurt am Main Messe ( lines S3 to S6 ). The S-Bahn station with the Torhaus exhibition center is almost exactly in the middle of the exhibition grounds, which are divided into two by the railway line.


Architects like Martin Schoenmakers, Oswald Mathias Ungers , Helmut Jahn and Nicholas Grimshaw have given the Frankfurt exhibition center a face with their designs. The nucleus of Messe Frankfurt, the first exhibition hall and the oldest building is the Festhalle , completed in 1909 , a self-supporting dome structure made of steel and glass. It was built in 23 months according to a design by the Munich architect Friedrich von Thiersch and is today a modern multifunctional hall.

Before and after the Second World War, the buildings on the Frankfurt exhibition grounds were mostly functional buildings, but with the gatehouse construction in 1984 ( gatehouse ), a phase of architecturally sophisticated new buildings began there. The first step in the reorganization of the site was taken in 1982 with the construction of Hall 9 and the Galleria. Hall 1 and the City entrance were built at the end of the 1980s. In 1996 the Congress Center followed with the attached Maritim Hotel.

With the acquisition of parts of the former freight yard, Messe Frankfurt has expanded and restructured its inner-city site in the southwest by around 11 hectares. Buildings such as Hall 3, the Forum, the new branch and the Cargo Center were built. In October 2007, Messe Frankfurt laid the foundation stone for the construction of the new exhibition hall 11 with the entrance building Portalhaus. The construction work was completed in July 2009. In 2014, the Operation & Security Center was put into operation as well as a second congress center in the neighboring Europaviertel with Kap Europa. Hall 12 and the associated extension of Via Mobile West were completed on the western site in autumn 2018. The hall was put into operation with the Automechanika in mid-September and offers 33,600 square meters of ultra-modern and multifunctional event space on two hall levels. The hall forms the keystone in the development of the western area of ​​Messe Frankfurt.


History in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance

Frankfurt am Main became a trade fair location in particular because of its favorable geographical location. The Main has been of great importance for freight traffic since the Middle Ages. Through its transition to the Rhine, it connected the large economic areas of Upper Germany and the North German Hanseatic League with one another at a not too great distance. Important highways that crossed the city u. a. connected with southern Lower Saxony, Thuringia, the German south-east and thus also Northern Italy and the Balkans.

The Carolingians had already used this strategic position politically with the imperial palace built here by Ludwig the Pious. After a decline in the time of the Saxon and Salian rulers, the Hohenstaufen under Konrad III. In the middle of the 12th century a royal castle on the Main. Within a short time, the settlement, which until then had probably only been grouped like a village around the ruined palace buildings on the cathedral hill and the Salvatorkirche , grew into a medieval town .

Documents indicate that the city was at least an important trading center as early as the 11th century. In 1034 the St. Ferrutius monastery in Bleidenstadt and in 1074 the inhabitants of Worms in Frankfurt were granted freedom from transit tariffs, whereby the name Frankfurt only appears in the second document mentioned. This is just proof that Frankfurt served as the place of a main toll for the royal treasury. However, the Worms document and an imperial decree of April 6, 1157 also reveal that the Frankfurt customs post was the only one of its kind on the Main for a long period of time.

While a mass was documented in the 7th century near St. Denis near Paris and similar evidence for many other European trading cities dates to the 10th and 11th centuries, this is the case for Frankfurt much later. Around or shortly after 1150, Rabbi Eliezer ben Nathan from Mainz (* around 1090; † around 1170) spoke in his Talmudic commentary ("Eben ha-'Ezer" = "Stone of Help") of "Israelites who came to the market / to the fair of the Goyim, how come in Frankfurt ” . This coincides with the development of the city, which lay fallow for about 150 years and now with the expansion into a Hohenstaufen power center and at the latest with the election of Friedrich Barbarossa in 1152 had risen again to one of the great centers of the empire.

According to the definition of Société Jean Bodin from 1953, which is still in use today, von Messe can only use “large organized gatherings, at regularly spaced intervals, of merchants coming from distant regions” , i.e. “large, organized gatherings that recur at regular intervals of merchants from distant regions ”. The above-mentioned imperial decree from the middle of the 12th century, according to which customs could always be collected in August seven days before and after the Assumption, and at the same time a clause to show consideration for merchants traveling upstream and the towpath on the bank , is however a strong indication of such a periodicity. Only a little later, documented duty exemptions for merchants from all over southern Germany that followed, then also meet the criterion of regions that are separated from each other.

The availability of goods was added to the good trade connections. The centuries-old reclamation of the Rhine and Mainland had reached a level at which surpluses arose at the beginning of the High Middle Ages. As a result of the crusades, luxury items, which were mainly traded in Constantinople, became known in Central Europe, and the settlement and town-building activities on the other side of the Elbe gave access to new sales areas that put Frankfurt geographically in the middle of the empire through the "Ostruck".

Special stamp "750 years of the privilege for trade fairs in Frankfurt" issued by the Deutsche Bundespost in 1990

From the initial role as a transshipment point for the agricultural surpluses of the surrounding area, the date on which the event soon to be known as the Frankfurt Autumn Fair had to take place, namely at the end of the harvest season on Assumption of Mary (August 15) resulted . As early as 1240, the importance of the autumn fair was gradually growing across the region. Emperor Frederick II. Granted - from the military camp to the siege of Ascoli from - on July 11, 1240 with an exhibition privilege whose certificate is received, all the fair in Frankfurt travelers safe-conduct . In the yearbooks of the Frankfurt Bartholomäusstift already 1270 names of origin of merchants from France , Italy , Hungary , Bohemia and Poland can be found .

The progressive economic development of Eastern Europe led to a considerable expansion of European long-distance trade. The fairs in Champagne lost their importance; other exhibition venues came to the fore: Bruges , Ghent , Chalon-sur-Saône and Geneva , and later also Lyon , Paris , Padua and Brabant .

Of the trade fairs of that time, the Frankfurt trade fair, which became the hub of long-distance trade, gained the greatest importance. This applied to the old autumn fair, but also to the new fasting and spring fair that began in 1330. Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian granted this to the city of Frankfurt on April 25, 1330. It was mainly intended for winter products such as wool or wine . This mass should also last 14 days; all visitors to the fair were under the protection of the Reich eight days before and after the fair, i.e. on arrival and departure. As with the autumn fair, the spring fair also had the privilege of being free to trade fair.

In the years that followed, the trade fair in Frankfurt was secured by a number of other privileges, including against potential competition. In 1337 the city had the emperor assure itself that neither Mainz nor any other city would give masses that could be harmful to Frankfurt. In 1385, the council signed a contract with the Archbishop of Mainz to secure the roads around Frankfurt ( escort ). In 1360, 1376 and 1465 imperial privileges guaranteed the protection of fair visitors from court. In return for a fee, Pope Sixtus IV finally granted the Frankfurters and their trade fair guests a relaxation of the fasting rules in 1478 .

The Frankfurt Book Fair started in 1485 and was a great success. Shortly thereafter, Frankfurt had the reputation of a center for German and European book printing . In 1596, 90 printers and booksellers were received at the book fair.

Despite gradually increasing competition from the Leipziger Messe, Frankfurt initially maintained its strong position as a trade fair city. In 1604 there were around 460 stands with traders and visitors from all over the world at the autumn fair. Silk fabrics, cloth, leather, manufactured goods, jewelery, silver, gold and books were traded; there was also a flourishing money market. The flow of visitors also attracted jugglers, minstrels and even theater groups from English comedians who provided entertainment for the visitors to the fair.

Letter at the end of the Frankfurt fair, date March 13, 1835

The adoption of the Protestant faith in the Duchy of Saxony, including its printing center in Leipzig in 1539, led to the Leipzig Book Fair becoming increasingly important as a trading center, especially for vernacular literature. As early as 1586, book production in Leipzig was larger than in Frankfurt am Main. As a result of the imperial book commissioner, who in turn was proposed by the Elector of Mainz, the Frankfurt exhibition center was curtailed by Catholic censorship until the end of the old empire in 1806. In contrast to Frankfurt, the Leipzig Book Commission exercised no censorship or general supervision, but only monitored the Saxon “privilegia impressoria”. In the 18th century Leipzig was the center of the German book trade. The entire German classics and the literature of the Enlightenment were published in Leipzig.

Frankfurt, on the other hand, developed more and more into a commercial and industrial center. In 1785, the first air travel in Germany took place on the occasion of the autumn fair. From Bornheimer Heide , in front of tens of thousands of spectators, Jean-Pierre Blanchard rose in a hydrogen balloon and flew with it in a sensational 39 minutes to Weilburg an der Lahn.

At the time of the French Revolution , the Frankfurt trade fair fell into decline. The main reasons were the annexation of the areas on the left bank of the Rhine and the continental barrier . In the period that followed, the establishment of the German Customs Union and increasing industrialization also had a negative impact. From around 1830 the Frankfurt trade fairs only had the character of a fair; the " Dippemeß " testifies to this today .

Fair freedom

The freedom to trade fair guaranteed during the trade fair comprised a number of special rights:

  • Every citizen, non-citizen and stranger was allowed to offer and sell goods. Every Frankfurt citizen was also allowed to accommodate strangers.
  • The people in Reichsacht were also safe during mass. They enjoyed safe conduct.
  • The trade fair visitors had court protection. This meant that no trade fair visitor could be sued for any ongoing proceedings during the trade fair. This also included the privilege of the fair place of jurisdiction, according to which the Frankfurt jury and not that of the respective hometown was responsible for arrests of fair visitors. This resulted from the aforementioned imperial privileges of 1360, 1376 and 1465.
  • Merchants from Alt-Bamberg , Nuremberg and Worms enjoyed an exemption from customs duties due to imperial privileges that go back to 1074 . However, they had to have this privilege confirmed annually in a traditional ceremony, the Pfeifergericht .
  • In addition, the visitors were escorted. This was carried out by escorts who - for escort money - protected the traders from thieves on the way to and from Frankfurt. The escort initially extended for a radius of five miles around the city.

Course of the fair

The four days before the start of the trade fair were considered the “escort week”. The goods were unpacked and the first major deals were completed before the shops and stalls opened. The first week of the fair was then the “business week”; that was the actual week of the trade fair in which the deals were made. This was followed by the “payment week” as the second week of the fair. The bills from the previous trade fairs were paid here. The Frankfurt trade fair was not only a trading center, but also served as a payment date.

On Tuesday of the following week, the merchants withdrew from Frankfurt with escort. During the autumn fair, small traders in agricultural products continued to trade in agricultural products until Saturday. There was no permanent exhibition site or building at that time. The banks of the Main, the Römerberg , the Neue Kräme, the Liebfrauenberg , the Heumarkt and the Roßmarkt were used as trading places.

Development of the Frankfurt trade fair in modern times

Graphic representation of the Frankfurt Festhalle on a picture postcard for the opening in 1909

After the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the leather fair and the Rossmarkt initially represented smaller, successful fairs. With the International Electrotechnical Exhibition in 1891, Frankfurt am Main succeeded in attracting tens of thousands of visitors again for the first time. The first automobile exhibitions in 1900 and 1904 were also great successes.

The exhibition and festival hall company was founded in 1907 to build and operate the festival hall . After a short construction period, the festival hall, built according to a design by Friedrich von Thiersch , was opened in 1909 . This hall offers space for over 18,000 people. A highlight before the First World War was the International Airship Exhibition in 1909 , where zeppelins , balloons and airplanes could be admired. The exhibition had over 1.5 million visitors.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the attempt to revive the Frankfurt trade fairs, which were initially restarted as model fairs, failed because of the ongoing economic problems ( reparations , high inflation , from 1929 the global economic crisis ) . Ultimately, the focus was on trade fairs.

After the Second World War, the first provisional post-war fair took place in tents, barracks and halls in autumn 1948 and was a complete success. In this respect, too, Frankfurt benefited from the “failure” of the economic metropolis and trade fair city of Leipzig as a result of the German and European division through the Iron Curtain . Since then, spring and autumn trade fairs have been held regularly in Frankfurt again. The first book fair after the war was held in the Paulskirche in 1949 . Over the next few years, then on the exhibition grounds, it developed into the most important annual meeting of the international literary world.

Today's trade fair events

Numerous trade fairs take place regularly in Frankfurt and are mostly organized by Messe Frankfurt itself. Messe Frankfurt organizes more than half of its trade fairs abroad. Messe Frankfurt divides the individual trade fair brands into thematically separated Industry Sectors:

The consumer goods sector includes the brands Ambiente , Beautyworld , Christmasworld , Creativeworld , Paperworld , Tendence and Nordstil .

Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound are located in the Entertainment, Media & Creative Industries Industry Sector .

To Mobility & Logistics , Messe brand is Automechanika with world's seventeen events and other events such as the Hypermotion that Comtrans that MotoBike Istanbul , the Materials Handling Middle East and the RailLog Korea .

The technology and capital goods fairs cover the following sectors: Building Technologies , Safety, Security & Fire , Environmental Technologies , Food Technologies , Textile Care, Cleaning & Cleanroom Technologies , Electronics & Automation Technologies and Manufacturing Technologies & Components . These include brands such as IFFA , Intersec , Intersec Forum , E2 Forum , ISH , Light + Building , Texcare and Cleanzone .

The brands Heimtextil , GREENshowroom , Ethical Fashion Show , Texworld , Techtextil and Texprocess are assigned to the Textiles & Textile Technologies sector .

Globally renowned guest fairs such as the International Motor Show - IAA - (until 2019), the Frankfurt Book Fair , IMEX and ACHEMA have been based in Frankfurt for decades. The portfolio also includes international events such as CPhI Worldwide , Food Ingredients Europe and Optatec .

The German Pavilion at the World Exhibition Expo 2015

On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy ( Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy ), Messe Frankfurt organized the construction and operation of the German pavilion for Expo Milano 2015. The theme of the 2015 Expo was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The country presentations revolved around the keywords food, energy, globe and life. The German pavilion “Fields of Ideas” showed new approaches from Germany for the nutrition of the future. Under the motto “Be active!” He invited the visitors to become active themselves. This offer was taken up by around three million visitors.


  • Erich Achterberg: 1908–1958. Another fifty years at the Frankfurt am Main Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Self-published, Frankfurt am Main 1960.
  • Alexander Dietz : Frankfurt trade history. Herman Minjon Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1910–1925 (5 volumes).
  • Johannes Fried (Hrsg.): The Frankfurt fair. 750 years of trade fairs in Frankfurt. Umschau-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1990–1991, ISBN 3-524-69100-5 . (2 volumes)
  • Chamber of Commerce in Frankfurt a. M. (Hrsg.): History of the Chamber of Commerce in Frankfurt a. M. (1707-1908). Contributions to Frankfurt's trading history. Published by Joseph Baer & Co, Frankfurt am Main 1908.
  • Rainer Koch (Hrsg.): Bridge between the peoples - On the history of the Frankfurt fair. Historisches Museum / Union Druckerei und Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-89282-018-X (3 volumes).
  • Fair and exhibition company mbH Frankfurt am Main (ed.): At the European street intersection. Frankfurt trade fairs and exhibitions in the past and present. Commemorative publication for the 50th anniversary of the Exhibition and Exhibition Company, Frankfurt am Main on November 22, 1957 , Frankfurt 1957
  • Johann Philipp Orth: Detailed treatise of the famous two imperial masses that are held annually in the imperial city of Frankfurt am Main, in which many important and strange matters occur and are thoroughly carried out, which at the same time provide a better understanding and explanation of German history, statute and civil rights , including habits of older, middle and more recent times, can serve with enclosures, at numbers 1. to 85. Many and in part still unprinted imperial letters of freedom, certificates and other messages, also some supplements and registers. Heinrich Ludwig Brönner, Frankfurt am Main 1765.
  • Werner Plumpe : "The pile of the local plot". 200 years of Frankfurt am Main Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-7973-1083-5 .
  • Hans-Otto Schembs: The peoples seek them from far away. The history of the Frankfurt fair. Josef Knecht Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-7820-0524-4 .

Web links

Commons : Messe Frankfurt  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Messe Frankfurt in figures, as of July 2nd, 2019
  2. a b press release from June 27, 2019
  3. At the crossroads of Europe. Frankfurt trade fairs and exhibitions in the past and present. Commemorative publication for the 50th anniversary of the Exhibition and Exhibition Company , Exhibition and Exhibition Company, Frankfurt am Main (ed.), Frankfurt am Main on November 22, 1957, Frankfurt 1957, p. 67
  4. Thomas Bauer, 100 years under a dome. The history of the Festhalle Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main 2009, pp. 30, 56, 62, 115 and 156.
  5. Messe Frankfurt in numbers. Retrieved July 2, 2019 .
  6. Further information on the Frankfurter Festhalle ( Memento of the original from July 21, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Further information on Hall 12
  8. Press release from October 25, 2018
  9. Industry Sectors of Messe Frankfurt ( Memento of the original from June 19, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. ^ Automechanika website
  11. tag24 accessed online on Jan. 30, 2020

Coordinates: 50 ° 6 ′ 41 ″  N , 8 ° 38 ′ 54 ″  E