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Römer (Frankfurt am Main)

Römer (Frankfurt am Main)

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The Römer is a medieval building in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, one of the city's most important landmark
Landmark
This is a list of landmarks around the world.Landmarks may be split into two categories - natural phenomena and man-made features, like buildings, bridges, statues, public squares and so forth...

s. It has been the city hall
City hall
In local government, a city hall, town hall or a municipal building or civic centre, is the chief administrative building of a city...

 or Rathaus
Rathaus
Rathaus is a German word literally translating as “council house”, meaning “city hall” or “town hall”. Many specific buildings are referred to as Rathaus even when spoken about in English.Some important Rathäuser are:* Rathaus Schöneberg...

 for 600 years. The Römer merchant family sold it together with a second building, the Goldener Schwan (Golden Swan), to the city council on March 11, 1405 and it was converted for use as the city hall. The Haus Römer is actually the middle building of a set of three located in the Römerberg (a plaza).

The Römer is not a museum as it is actually used by the city for various purposes, for example as a Standesamt
Standesamt
A Standesamt is a German civil registration office, which is responsible for recording births, marriages and deaths....

 or civil registration office; the wedding rooms are located in the first and second floor of the Haus Löwenstein.

Extensions


The building complex has been continuously extended over the years, with eventually eleven houses connected to each other, resulting in a rather confusing interior. At the beginning of the 19th century, Frankfurt historian Anton Kirschner remarked that the Frankfurt city hall had "stairs, yards, halls and rooms in a labyrinthian mixture".

In 1435, the city bought the Frauenrode house, in 1510 the Viole house and in 1542 the Schwarzenfels house, which were all architecturally connected to the main complex.

Then, in 1596 the city council bought the Wanebach house, which stood next to the Goldener Schwan, as well as the building to the left of the Haus Römer, the Haus Löwenstein, and had both of them connected to the Römer. These construction projects were very complicated, since the floor heights of Löwenstein and Römer were radically different.
In 1843, the Frauenstein house and the Salzhaus were added. Finally, in 1878 the city bought the Alt-Limpurg house to the right of the Haus Römer for 214,000 mark
German gold mark
The Goldmark was the currency used in the German Empire from 1873 to 1914.-History:Before unification, the different German states issued a variety of different currencies, though most were linked to the Vereinsthaler, a silver coin containing 16⅔ grams of pure silver...

s. The current neogothic front with a balcony was built from 1896 to 1900. It was initially planned to be much more imposing, but mayor Franz Adickes decided against Kaiser Wilhelm's suggestion and had the front designed in a more welcoming manner.

At the same time, the houses Frauenrode and Viole were demolished to make way for streets through the city centre. They were replaced by a newly erected building to the east. This new building is divided into two wings by the Braubachstrasse. These two wings (the north wing and south wing) are connected by a bridge. The Frankfurt citizens, who paid their taxes in the north wing, named the covered bridge the Seufzerbrücke (the "Bridge of Sighs") in reference to the other Bridge of Sighs
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is a bridge in Venice, northern Italy . The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace...

 in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

. The two towers in the south wing attracted nicknames as well: the larger one was called Langer Franz (Tall Franz) in homage to the city's tall mayor and the smaller one the Kleiner Cohen (Small Cohen) after a popular song of the time.

On the night of March 22, 1944, the Römer, along with the rest of the centre of Frankfurt, was largely destroyed in one of the heaviest bombing attacks of the Second World War. When the building was rebuilt after the war, the Alt-Limpurg, the Römer, and the Löwenstein houses, whose roof structure had in part withstood the attack, were restored in a simplified form. The completely destroyed houses Frauenstein and Salzhaus were rebuilt in a simplified style. The Löwenstein house has an open stairwell. The Römer was re-inaugurated in 1955 by president
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

 Theodor Heuss
Theodor Heuss
Theodor Heuss was a liberal German politician who served as the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany after World War II from 1949 to 1959...

.
In the following decades the façade
Facade
A facade or façade is generally one exterior side of a building, usually, but not always, the front. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face"....

 was restored two additional times, in the years 1974 and 2005, and the houses on the Römerberg regained the neogothic look of 1900. The interior has also been redesigned. In 1988 the renovated city council meeting hall was completed.

Architecture


The entire three-storey building complex occupies about 10,000 square metres and consists of nine houses, encircling six courtyards. The front, with today's main entrance, faces the Römerberg plaza. Other streets around the Römer are the Limpurgergasse to the south and the Buchgasse and the Berliner Straße to the north. The Braubachstraße divides the south and north wings.

Façade


The exterior features of the set of buildings reflect a wide breadth of Frankfurt and Germany's history, even though they were designed at the beginning of the 20th century. The famous three-peaked façade has medieval elements of design. The left-hand corner of the Alt-Limpurg displays the so-called Frankfurtia, the female embodiment of the city. In the middle, the Haus Römer shows the four kaiser
Kaiser
Kaiser is the German title meaning "Emperor", with Kaiserin being the female equivalent, "Empress". Like the Russian Czar it is directly derived from the Latin Emperors' title of Caesar, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar,...

s of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, two city coats of arms, a clock face, and a placard describing the most important facts about the building. The four kaisers are Frederick Barbarossa
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I Barbarossa was a German Holy Roman Emperor. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March, crowned King of Italy in Pavia in 1155, and finally crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV, on 18 June 1155, and two years later in 1157 the term...

 (the first king to be elected in Frankfurt), Louis the Bavarian
Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Louis IV , called the Bavarian, of the house of Wittelsbach, was the King of Germany from 1314, the King of Italy from 1327 and the Holy Roman Emperor from 1328....

 (who gave convention rights to the city and allowed an expansion of the city), Charles IV
Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles IV , born Wenceslaus , was the second king of Bohemia from the House of Luxembourg, and the first king of Bohemia to also become Holy Roman Emperor....

 (who made Frankfurt the location of the Kaiser selection vote), and Maximilian II
Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian II was king of Bohemia and king of the Romans from 1562, king of Hungary and Croatia from 1563, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from 1564 until his death...

 (the first kaiser to be crowned in Frankfurt cathedral).

Like the neogothic façade, the balcony was added after the rebuilding in 1900, replacing a wooden roof. The balcony was and is used as a public stage for state visits and sporting events - for example, the soccer world champions in the Women's World Cup in 2003 and the runners up in the 2002 FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

.

Another approach was chosen for the design of the fronts of the two north-east houses (the Wanebach and the Salzhaus). In contrast to the other houses in the complex, instead of reconstructing the old Wilhelminean front, the architects created a completely new design using a combination of medieval timber framing
Timber framing
Timber framing , or half-timbering, also called in North America "post-and-beam" construction, is the method of creating structures using heavy squared off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs . It is commonplace in large barns...

 and modern styles. The mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

s in the timber frames feature the motif of a phoenix
Phoenix (mythology)
The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

, a symbol for modern Frankfurt's new start after the war.

Römerhalle and Schwanenhalle


These two halls are the oldest remaining rooms in the building and are virtually unchanged after 600 years. At one point, the first Frankfurt book fair
Frankfurt Book Fair
The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world's largest trade fair for books, based on the number of publishing companies represented. As to the number of visitors, the Turin Book Fair attracts about as many visitors, viz. some 300,000....

s took place in these rooms and gold and silversmiths sold their merchandise there. After the Second World War, the rooms continued to be used for this purpose because the massively built structures had survived the war practically undamaged. The two halls are located on the ground floor of the houses Römer and Goldener Schwan, and they can be entered directly from the main entrance on the Römerberg.

Kaisersaal


Perhaps the best-known room of the Römer, the Kaisersaal, or Emperor Hall, is located above the Römerhalle on the second floor and is a major tourist attraction. During the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, coronation banquets took place there. Today, the Kaisersaal is well-known for its unique and unparalleled collection of 19th century portraits of all of the emperors, including works by Eduard Von Steinle
Eduard Von Steinle
Eduard Von Steinle was a historical painter and member of the Nazarene movement.Steinle came successively under the influence of the painters Leopold Kupelweiser, Johann Overbeck, and Peter von Cornelius, and was thus introduced into the methods of the German painters who had formed themselves...

 of Albert I
Albert I of Germany
Albert I of Habsburg was King of the Romans and Duke of Austria, the eldest son of German King Rudolph I of Habsburg and his first wife Gertrude of Hohenburg.-Life:...

 and Ferdinand III
Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand III was Holy Roman Emperor from 15 February 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria.-Life:...

.

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