You can’t go to Frankfurt without visiting the Römerberg. This iconic square is home to a host of delights, from picturesque mediaeval buildings to historic markets.
At the heart of the Altstadt – Frankfurt’s old town – you’ll find the Römerberg, one of the city’s most familiar attractions. It’s home to the Römer, which has been in use as the city hall since the 15th century. Standing in the square, you’ll be forgiven for feeling like you’re on a film set at times – it’s a postcard-perfect scene of days gone by. Despite extensive damage from bombardment during the Second World War, the Römerberg’s unique architecture has been painstakingly restored. The result is a unique tribute to the past that feels worlds away from the city’s more modern buildings, including our Radisson Blu Hotel, Frankfurt.
The three stepped gable facades of the Römer are what make the square so instantly recognisable. The original mediaeval complex has been extended considerably since it was sold to the city council in 1405, with several buildings, courtyards and an ornate balcony added throughout the years. This has been the backdrop for famous faces like John F. Kennedy, who addressed an adoring crowd here during his groundbreaking visit to Germany in 1963, just the day before giving his famous speech in Berlin.
The Fountain of Justice
The Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice), standing in the centre of the square in front of the Römer, dates back to 1543. Its bronze statue depicts Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice, armed with her sword and scales. The monument has been renovated several times over the years – according to legend, wine flowed from the fountain at the 16th century coronation of Emperor Matthias, causing a commotion worthy of immediate repairs.
Fairs and festivals
Trade fairs and markets have been held in the Römerberg since the Middle Ages, attracting visiting merchants from all over Europe. The tradition is continues to this day with Frankfurt’s spectacular Christmas market, one of the oldest and largest in Germany. It’s a fairy-tale experience – and a great excuse to sample local delicacies like hot apple wine and Bethmännchen marzipan cookies by the 30-metre-high Christmas tree.
On the east side of the Römerberg, you’ll find the Ostzeile, a row of six half-timbered houses. Although most of the original 15th and 16th century buildings were destroyed during the air raids of 1944, the houses on the Ostzeile were faithfully restored during the 1980s. Each bears its own evocative name, including Große Engel (Great Angel) and Goldener Greif (Golden Griffin).
Only one half-timbered house in the Altstadt made it through bombings unscathed. Haus Wertheym has been serving hearty home-style cuisine since 1479, and it continues to do so today. As you’d expect, it’s a popular tourist spot, so avoid visiting during weekends and public holidays when the restaurant gets particularly crowded. Head to nearby Zum Standesämtchen for a quieter meal, and be sure to try the Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle) and homemade sauerkraut.