Hauptwache (Frankfurt am Main)

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The Hauptwache and the plaza as seen from the Kaufhof's roof garden Hauptwache Ffm April 2010 DSC 9367.jpg
The Hauptwache and the plaza as seen from the Kaufhof's roof garden

The Hauptwache (English: "Main Guardroom") is a central point of Frankfurt am Main and is one of the most famous plazas (German : An der Hauptwache) in the city. The original name Schillerplatz was superseded in the early 1900s. It lies to the west of Konstablerwache with both squares linked by the Zeil, the central shopping area of the city.

Frankfurt Place in Hesse, Germany

Frankfurt is a metropolis and the largest city of the German federal state of Hesse, and its 746,878 (2017) inhabitants make it the fifth-largest city of Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne. On the River Main, it forms a continuous conurbation with the neighbouring city of Offenbach am Main, and its urban area has a population of 2.3 million. The city is at the centre of the larger Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region, which has a population of 5.5 million and is Germany's second-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr Region. Since the enlargement of the European Union in 2013, the geographic centre of the EU is about 40 km (25 mi) to the east of Frankfurt's central business district. Like France and Franconia, the city is named after the Franks. Frankfurt is the largest city in the Rhine Franconian dialect area.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Konstablerwache town square in Frankfurt, Germany

Konstablerwache is a central square in the centre of Frankfurt am Main and part of its pedestrian zone. It lies to the east of Hauptwache with both squares linked by the Zeil, the central shopping area of the city.


The Hauptwache building

The former guard-house with a cafe (front side) Hauptwache Wachgebaeude Cafe diagonal.jpg
The former guard-house with a café (front side)
The Hauptwache plaza with the Kaufhof department store Hauptwache Kaufhof Verkehrsinsel Zeil.jpg
The Hauptwache plaza with the Kaufhof department store
The Hole in the Hauptwache plaza Hauptwache Das Loch.jpg
The Hole in the Hauptwache plaza
Hauptwache in 1846, by William Fox Talbot (mirror image) Talbot Blick von der Zeil auf die Hauptwache 1846.jpg
Hauptwache in 1846, by William Fox Talbot (mirror image)

The baroque building which gave the square its name was built in 1730. It was the headquarters of the city's Stadtwehr militia when Frankfurt was an independent city state (→ Free City of Frankfurt) and also contained a prison. In the 18th century Frankfurt still had city walls and its own army. Until 1864 the place surrounding the building was called Paradeplatz reflecting its military function. [1]

Baroque cultural movement, starting around 1600

The Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, music, painting, sculpture and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the mid-18th century. It followed the Renaissance style and preceded the Rococo and Neoclassical styles. It was encouraged by the Catholic Church as a means to counter the simplicity and austerity of Protestant architecture, art and music, though Lutheran Baroque art developed in parts of Europe as well. The Baroque style used contrast, movement, exuberant detail, deep colour, grandeur and surprise to achieve a sense of awe. The style began at the start of the 17th century in Rome, then spread rapidly to France, northern Italy, Spain and Portugal, then to Austria and southern Germany. By the 1730s, it had evolved into an even more flamboyant style, called rocaille or Rococo, which appeared in France and central Europe until the mid to late 18th century.

Free City of Frankfurt

For almost five centuries, the German city of Frankfurt was a city-state within two major Germanic entities:

In 1833 during the Frankfurter Wachensturm, the Hauptwache and the Konstablerwache were stormed in a failed effort by a small revolutionary force of native citizens, among others Gustav Koerner, and some people from different locations in Germany. When Prussia annexed the city in 1866 and took over military activities, the Hauptwache lost this role.

Frankfurter Wachensturm

The Frankfurter Wachensturm on 3 April 1833 was a failed attempt to start a revolution in Germany.

Gustav Koerner American judge

Gustav Philipp Koerner, also spelled Gustave or Gustavus Koerner was a revolutionary, journalist, lawyer, politician, judge, and statesman in Illinois and Germany and a Colonel of the U.S. Army who was a confessed enemy of slavery. He married on 17 June 1836 in Belleville Sophia Dorothea Engelmann, they had 9 children. He belonged to the co-founders and was one of the first members of the Grand Old Party; and he was a close confidant of Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd and had an essential role in his nomination and election for president in 1860.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

The prison remained and the Hauptwache also became a police station. In 1904, the building was used as a café and remains one to this day. It was the scene of the Hauptwache incident when French troops opened fire on students protesting against the French occupation of Frankfurt on 7 April 1920. Heavily burned in World War II bombing, it was reopened in a provisional form with an altered roof in 1954. In 1967, with the building of the U-Bahn tunnel through the city, it was dismantled so it could be moved and rebuilt over the new underground U-Bahn station. The plaza has undergone another major renovation when the S-Bahn station for suburban trains was opened in 1978.

French occupation of Frankfurt

French occupation of Frankfurt occurred from 6 April to 17 May 1920 as part of the Allied occupation of the Rhineland. The principal city occupied was Frankfurt, but the French also occupied Dieburg, Darmstadt, Hanau and Homburg. The occupation was in response to the mobilisation of armed forces by the government of Hermann Müller to suppress the Ruhr Uprising - which in turn was part of a widespread strike movement which defeated the Kapp Putsch.

Bombing of Frankfurt am Main in World War II

Bombing of Frankfurt am Main by the Allies of World War II killed about 5,500 residents and destroyed the largest medieval city centre in Germany.

Frankfurt U-Bahn subterranean rapid transit

The Frankfurt U-Bahn, together with the Rhine-Main S-Bahn and the Frankfurt Straßenbahn, forms the backbone of the public transport system of Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany. Its name derives from the German term for underground, Untergrundbahn. Since 1996, the U-Bahn has been owned and operated by Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VgF), the public transport company of Frankfurt, and is part of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) transit association. The licence contract is up to 31 December 2031 and is renewable. The contracting authority of VGF is the municipal transport company traffiQ.

Today, Hauptwache station serves as one of the most important crosspoints of the Frankfurt public transport system. Eight of nine S-Bahn lines serve the station as well as six of nine U-Bahn lines.

Public transport in Frankfurt am Main

The public transit system in Frankfurt is part of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund transport network and consists of several carriers who all use the same fare system. Therefore, one ticket is valid for a journey which may include several modes of transit run by different operators. The fares are paid in advance of travel at a ticket vending machine or at the driver on board a bus. There are no turnstiles or other controlling barriers; instead, a proof-of-payment system is used. Plainclothes fare inspectors are employed and carry out random checks to ensure passengers have paid. If found to be travelling without a ticket, then they are required to pay a fine of €60. A single way trip within Frankfurt costs between €1.80 and €2.80, and a journey to the suburbs outside Frankfurt costs between €4.65 and €9.10 approx. There are also some discounts for children for groups or day tickets. A day ticket for traveling within Frankfurt costs €7.

The Plaza

The plaza has been reformed several times. Its current appearance is marked by a sunken terrace leading down to underground pedestrian area with shops and the public transport station. Frankfurters call the sunken area "das Loch" (English: the Hole).

The plaza contains a number of different architectural styles. It is towered above and dominated by St. Catherine's Church. Apart from the baroque Hauptwache itself, the surrounding buildings are mostly new architecture because of the damage from the war.

St. Catherines Church, Frankfurt Church in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

St. Catherine's Church is the largest Protestant church in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is a parish church in the old city centre near one of the most famous city squares, the Hauptwache. The church is dedicated to the martyred early Christian saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Connecting streets

The Hauptwache at night, seen from the Kaufhof's roof garden Hauptwache Frankfurt.jpg
The Hauptwache at night, seen from the Kaufhof's roof garden

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Hauptwache and An der Hauptwache at Wikimedia Commons


  1. "Rund um die Hauptwache" [Around the Main Guard](PDF) (in German). Karmeliterkloster, Frankfurt am Main: Institut für Stadtgeschichte. 2004. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2013.

Coordinates: 50°06′48″N8°40′44″E / 50.11333°N 8.67889°E / 50.11333; 8.67889

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