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After Frankfurt's old town was destroyed during the Second World War, heated discussions took place as to how the area between the Dom and Römer should be rebuilt. Towards the end of the 1970s the town council began to reconstruct the half-timbered houses on the east side of the Römerberg. In 1981 work began on the so-called Ostzeile or "eastern wing," which resulted in the erection of buildings which bear names like Grosser Engel (The Giant Angel) and Goldener Greif (Golden Griffin). These buildings caused much controversy among locals but the Römerberg does look a lot better for them.
The Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen ('Well of Justice') was built in 1541, probably on the site of an even older well, in the middle of the Römerberg - Frankfurt's central square. The water had a 2 kilometer (1.24 mile) route to reach the wells. In 1610, the wells were provided with stone interiors and presided over by the impressive Statue of Justice. When Kaiser Matthias was crowned in 1612, wine - instead of water - flowed freely from the mouths of the stone lions. In 1887, the wells were renovated and the stone figures copied. The original sandstone statues were moved to the Museum of Local History.
The beautiful, decadent Kaisersaal in the Römer City Hall stands as the building's largest draw. It's the home to a great many 19th-century paintings and as the name suggests houses the paintings of the German kings of the Holy Roman Empire. Back in the day, the room hosted coronation banquets. Today, the room is often used for hosting important events and festivities. Its stunning blend of Gothic and Medieval Romantic architecture lend it an aura of mystery and elegance.
Frankfurt Town Hall, as it stands today, is made up of a melee of different buildings. The first buildings to be constructed here were the Zum Römer House and the next-door guest-house, Goldener Schwan in 1405. At the beginning of the 20th Century, two building complexes (north and south) were erected next to Paulsplatz and were joined by a bridge. Designed in a Renaissance and Baroque architectural style, these buildings fit in well with the earlier buildings. They are decorated with reliefs depicting local events, such as the harvesting of cider apples. One particular draw is the exquisitely decorated Kaisersaal (Emperor's Hall) in the Rathaus (city hall). The Rathaus is the seat of the Mayor of Frankfurt.
The Alte Nikolaikirche (Old Nikolai Church) can be found in the southern section of Frankfurt's Römerberg for centuries. Initially designed as a chapel for the neighboring Stauferpfalz Palace, the church was later used for mass and prayer by the town council. In the 15th Century, the building underwent changes and the watchtower was made higher to enable watchmen to signal to ships on the river from the top of the tower. Members of the council could also watch the festivities on the Römerberg from the extended rooftop. A hundred years later, this place of worship was turned into a warehouse and silo. Today, the facade of the late Gothic, doubled-naved church is painted in its original colors of white and red.
Associated with St. Paul's Church, Paulplatz is one of the largest squares in city and the largest in Altstadt. The square traces its history back to 1833 and is home to some of the most imposing structures in the historic neighborhood - like the Alte Börse and Lessing-Gymnasium. Although the iconic city square was destroued in 1944, it was restored to its former glory by 1949 and has ever since participated in many cultural events and community activities.
This post-modern building lies in the center of the old town, between the Dom and the Römer, and is renowned for its classy international art exhibitions which have been attracting visitors since 1986. The Schirn Kunsthalle does not have its own collection but holds temporary exhibitions by German and foreign artists. The top-floor gallery has been home to exhibitions such as European Masterpieces 1910-1960 and the Kandinsky Retrospective. The art gallery has seen impressionist, dadaist, surrealist and other works of art on its walls. The name Schirn comes from the alfresco market stalls which used to stand here in the Middle Ages. Admission can vary according to exhibition. Check website for more details.
Saalgasse or Saal Lane is a fascinating amalgamation of history, culture and architecture. Situated in the heart of Frankfurt's Old Town, this lane is a testament to resilience and creativity. During World War II, this area was completely destroyed by bombs, over the following decades the area was rebuilt in the post-modern style, with no two houses alike. Walking down the narrow lane, you can observe the fascinating colors, and shapes of these bright narrow houses evoking a science fiction version of Mediterranean themes; a true landmark. Within walking distance are the Schirn Kunsthalle and the Schwarzer Stern Restaurant.