Frankfurt’s New Historical City Centre
After British bombings destroyed Frankfurt am Main in 1944, its city centre — located between the Römer and the Cathedral — lay empty until the 1970s, at which time the Technical Town Hall (the ‘Klotz’) was built. A decade later, seven half-timbered houses on the Römerberg were rebuilt according to their original plans. In 2004, the city council decided to demolish the brutalist Klotz, and citizens’ action groups successfully pushed forward plans to have the pre-war city centre rebuilt in its place. The Hühnermarkt, the alleys, and fifteen patrician houses were to be reconstructed, and an additional twenty lookalikes would be newly designed to properly match the historical ones. Work on the new Old Town started in 2010, and in 2018, 74 years after the city was ruined, Frankfurt had its historical town back.
The quarter’s main — and most expensive — showpiece is the Goldene Waage, an ornate half-timbered Renaissance house, opposite the Cathedral, named after the golden scales hanging from its corner. Before the war it was one of the most widely photographed houses in the country, and the resulting multitude of available photos turned out to be of great use for reconstructing its replacement. The one original carved beam that survived the bombings had been kept in the Historical Museum and was used by the woodcarvers as a model for the meticulously decorated facade. It took roughly 7,500 man-hours to rebuild the house, and the result is genuinely extraordinary. It’s quite likely that the new Goldene Waage will again be one of Germany’s most photographed landmarks, although in this day & age, serving as a background for selfies of course.