New Old Town of Frankfurt
The New Old Town is the center of Frankfurt’s Old Town, which was reconstructed from 2012 to 2018 as part of a major urban development project. For this purpose, the Technical City Hall was demolished, which previously stood on large parts of the current area and shaped the area between Frankfurt Cathedral and Römerberg for decades. The official working title for the reconstruction of the New Old Town was Dom-Römer District.
The goal for the construction of the New Old Town was the implementation of an urban development task that was to be based on the original buildings of the Old Town that was destroyed by the war, but without copying it completely. What is special is the architectural design: some of the façades, which were largely mapped to the original, were combined with modern façades in a sophisticated way.
The New Old Town of Frankfurt was built on a plot of land around 7,000 square meters in size, bounded in the north by Braubachstrasse and in the south by the Schirn Art Gallery (Kunsthalle Schirn). The entire area now includes 35 buildings that have been designed by a large number of different architects. Originally the project was called Dom-Römer-Viertel (lit. Cathedral Römer District) or Dom-Römer-Quartier (Cathedral Römer Quarter).
As a so-called coronation path, the Old Market (Alter Markt) connects the two places that were important for the coronation of the Roman-German kings and emperors. The area forms the core of the old town, which was one of the largest and most important half-timbered towns with around 1250 half-timbered houses, mostly from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, until it was completely destroyed in air raids in 1944.
In the course of the development of the New Old Town, the squares and streets of the Alter Markt, Hühnermarkt, Hinter dem Lämmchen and Neugasse with their historical properties and courtyards, including the Rebstock farm on the market and the Goldenes Lämmchen, were largely restored. A total of 35 new buildings were built, including 15 reconstructions of historic old town houses known as creative replicas. The Haus zur Goldenen Wage (lit. Golden Scale House) is the most valuable reconstruction and showpiece of the area. A design statute issued in 2010 applied to all new buildings, which among other things only permitted steep pitched roofs and stipulated the use of certain building materials that were and are typical of Frankfurt’s region.
The archaeological garden with the remains of the Roman settlement on the cathedral hill and the Carolingian royal palace of Frankfurt, which were excavated between 1953 and 1973, is located in the construction area. In order to protect the excavations permanently and to keep them accessible and to compensate for the two meter difference in height between the market and today’s Bendergasse, an ensemble of five buildings was built in the south of the area, the town house on the market.
The main local political decision for the reconstruction of the Old Town was made in September 2007 with a resolution by the Frankfurt City Council. This was preceded by a multi-year planning phase with an architecture competition, which was largely rated negatively in politics and the public, as well as the participation of the public and citizens’ initiatives such as Freunde Frankfurts (lit. Friends of Frankfurt). In particular, the civic engagement led to the old town-oriented planning of the Dom-Römer project. The 35 designs for the new buildings were selected in several architectural competitions with more than 170 participants in 2010/11. The foundation stone was laid at the end of January 2012. At the end of 2017, all the houses were largely finished from the outside. On May 9, 2018, the site fences were removed and the new quarter made fully accessible to the public. Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann and numerous other politicians attended the opening.
The heart of the rebuilt Old Town: the chicken market with the Friedrich Stoltze Fountain.
A three-day old town festival to mark the opening of the new old town took place from September 28 to 30, 2018. Between 250,000 and 300,000 people came to this community festival. In March 2019, the Dom-Römer project also received the international MIPIM Award.
Since then, Frankfurt’s New Old Town has become a popular excursion destination for visitors. Many people also visit the nearby Historical Museum to find out about the development of Frankfurt over the centuries.
Visiting the New Old Town
Address: Hühnermarkt, Frankfurt
Opening times: always open
Entrance fees: free entry