July 2, 2015
A row of medieval buildings in Frankfurt's main square, the Römerberg. Destroyed by Allied bombing near the end of the Second World War, the photo comparison makes it evident that they have been painstakingly restored with loving attention to detail.
The financial capital of Germany and the Eurozone, Frankfurt is a city with one foot in the 21st Century and another set in the city's medieval past. Though smaller than many other German cities, the modern skyline and restored medieval buildings scattered around the city give it a big city-feel and locals have affectionately nicknamed it "the world's smallest metropolis."
An American GI gets acquainted with the locals after the war.
On the other side of the Römerberg square is this fascinating building, the Römer (Roman) building. For over 600 years it has served as Frankfurt's city hall.
The Römer did not escape Allied bombs either. Here it is after the war being restored to its former glory.
A view down the side of the Römer along an alley called the Limpurgergasse. Some slight architectural modifications have been made since 1900.
The baroque hauptwache, or guardhouse, is at centre stage here. Once Frankfurt's police station/prison/militia headquarters, it has been the setting of many decisive historical events in the city's recent history. Today it is a cafe and museum. On the right is Paulskirche. A new mall prevented me from getting just the right angle.
Another view of Paulskirche being rebuilt after the Second World War. This church holds a special place in Germany's collective memory, as it was the site of Germany's first — though shortlived — experiment in parliamentary democracy in 1848.
Here delegates of the Federal Assembly of the German Confederation pose for a photo outside the Palais Thurn und Taxis. The building was destroyed during the Second World War and only recently rebuilt. It appears that either the new building was made on a slightly smaller scale than the original, or German 19th Century aristocrats were much tinier than my friend Reinhardt is today.
Looking down the Fahrgasse towards the Main. At the end of the photo you can just make out the on-ramp to the Main bridge at the end of the street. The cheap housing built in a great rush after the Second World War means that this street has lost much of its former character.
And looking down the Fahrgasse in the opposite direction. Once again the modern architecture leaves much to be desired.
The Linen House, where linen and textiles were traded. It is over 600 years old.
This courtyard, the Hainer Hof, has been rebuilt beyond all recognition.
The Eiserner Steg. An iron bridge spanning the Main that was built in 1868. It too was destroyed during the war and rebuilt afterwards. Thousands of lovers locks are affixed to the railings. In the background can be seen Frankfurt's enormous cathedral.
Traders have set up stalls in the shadow of the cathedral, part of the Christmas Market, an ancient tradition in Frankfurt.
The Saalgasse. You can see the buildings in the background show an interesting fusion of modern and medieval German architectural styles, an attempt to recapture the street's former atmosphere. At the top of both photos you can just make out the cathedral's steeple.
A view back towards the Loehergasse.
Crowds gather on the riverside to watch the Frankfurt cathedral burn down. It was rebuilt afterwards evidently.
The Alte Oper (old opera house) is bounded by scaffolding as construction of this Frankfurt landmark nears completion.
A statue of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, in Kaiserplatz. While the statue hasn't changed, its surroundings have.
Another interesting example of Frankfurt's ultra-modern skyline towering over a very distinct historic building. Part of Frankfurt's medieval fortifications, in the 1400s and 1500s the Eschenheimer Thurm was the free imperial city's most prominent gatehouse.
This is where Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the giant of German literature, was born and raised. It serves as a museum to the man and his works today.
You can be forgiven for not guessing there was once a street here off Gallusstrasse, and there was a huge cafe on the corner.
Another statue that has seen its surroundings dramatically altered. This one is at the Marchenbrunnen, behind it are the old offices of the European Central Bank.
The galluswarte watchtower just to the west of Frankfurt's city centre. The name comes from Galgenfeld, which means gallows field, because this was where condemned criminals were hanged.
On the right is the Church of the Teutonic Order in Saschenhausen.