Historical Churches Walking Tour (Self Guided), Frankfurt

Frankfurt is home to a wide range of religious sites and places of worship. Religious or not, everyone is likely to be impressed by the huge cathedrals, small chapels and humble cloisters this city offers. We invite you to take this self guided walking tour of Frankfurt's downtown and visit some of the most formidable churches in town.
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Historical Churches Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Frankfurt (See other walking tours in Frankfurt)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: helenp
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Saint Catherine's (Katharinenkirche)
  • Church of Our Dear Lady (Liebfraukirche)
  • Carmelite Monastery (Karmeliterkloster)
  • Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church)
  • Old Nicholas Church (Alte Nikolaikirche)
  • Frankfurt Cathedral
  • Dominican Monastery (Dominikanerkloster)
1
Saint Catherine's (Katharinenkirche)

1) Saint Catherine's (Katharinenkirche)

The Katherinenkirche, located near the busy Hauptwache Plaza in Frankfurt is the city’s largest Lutheran Church. The present structure was constructed between 1678 and 1681.

The Katherinekirche was built at the site of a vestal cloister and hospital run by the Teutonic Knights. Later a small parish church existed at the location and gained importance in history because in 1522, it became the setting of the first protestant sermon in Frankfurt. The church was consecrated in 1681 and dedicated to the martyred Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The building is a single vessel hall church with a tower at the side and ornamental gateways. The church was also destroyed like other well known buildings during the bombings of 1944. The parishioners and citizens of Frankfurt rebuilt the structure to resemble the original exterior although with a simple interior in 1954.

Among the well known parishioners who worshiped at Ketherinenkirche was the Goethe family and Wolfgang von Goethe was confirmed here. He is known to have spent hours at the library reading Greek literature and at the age of 22 was witness to the beheading of child murderer Susanna Margaretha Brand. Goethe described the incident in his famous work, ‘Faust’.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Church of Our Dear Lady (Liebfraukirche)

2) Church of Our Dear Lady (Liebfraukirche)

Between the Zeil shopping street and the busy Romerberg square in Frankfurt lies this gothic style church that dates back to the early middle ages. The building is a functioning catholic parish church and Capuchin monastery. It is open to the public and the Capuchin fathers provide food for the needy and homeless near the main building.

The Liebfraukirche was donated by a Frankfurt aristocrat, Wigel of Wanebach whose epitaph still remains in the church in 1322. His son Wigel Frog and his widow Catherine of Wanebach added a chapel and expanded the building. The small church building was further enlarged in 1344 and a three aisle gothic hall was constructed. In 1415 the façade of the church was adorned with what is considered its greatest treasure, a Tympanum depicting the Adoration of the Magi from the workshop of artist Madern Gertheners. In 1923, the Capuchin order made the church their home. The building was completely destroyed in World War II and remained in ruins till its recent reconstruction in 1956.

Visitors to the cathedral can spend a few moments of peace and contemplation in the simple yet spiritual ambience of Liebfraukirche located in the busiest part of the city of Frankfurt.
3
Carmelite Monastery (Karmeliterkloster)

3) Carmelite Monastery (Karmeliterkloster)

The former convent of the Carmelite order, from 1246 to 1803, Karmeliterkloster is the seat of the Institute for City History and the Archaeological Museum.

The Carmelites established themselves in Frankfurt in 1246. The monastery quickly gained momentum and became one of the largest building complexes in the Old Town. In 1424, their church was remodeled to the late Gothic style. To a single-vessel church the Carmelites then added a chapel and a two-aisle refectory hall. The latter was covered with frescoes, largest in Northern Europe, including painted history of the Carmelite order and a 16th century depiction of Christ’s birth and death by artist Jorg Ratgeb who was later cruelly executed for taking part in the German peasant’s revolution of 1525.

After the secularization of Frankfurt in 1803, all the monastery's possessions were claimed by the city, including 25 hectares of vineyards in Hochheim am Main. Over the years, the main building had served as a warehouse, garrison, fire department and a theater. It was almost completely destroyed during World War II and its frescoes were badly damaged. The building was finally refurbished in 1987-1989.

Since 1959, the Carmelite Monastery has housed the Institute for City History, which is the former municipal archives, as well as collections of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History (now the Archaeological Museum), featuring objects from the Stone Age and the Roman civilization period, plus the ones extracted from the Frankish and Alemanic graves. It is also home to a cabaret theater located in the basement, called Die Schmiere (The Grease), staging satirical plays and much loved by the local theater-goers.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church)

4) Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church)

The elliptical-shaped St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is located near the Zeil shopping area of Frankfurt. The building is significant not only for its architecture but the role it played in shaping German democracy in 1848.

Paulskirsche was built as a protestant Evangelical Lutheran church in an oval neoclassical style with red sandstone exterior walls between 1789 and 1833. Meetings were held in the church because of its rounded shape. In 1848, elected representatives from Germany and Austria met in the hall to draft a Charter of Basic Rights and a Constitution to unify Germany on the basis of popular self-determination. The attempt subsequently failed and the structure was used for church services again. Paulskirsche suffered extensive damage during WWII bombings. After the war, its exteriors were painstakingly restored and the interiors were simplified and modernized. The building is now used for exhibitions and meetings. The hall on the first floor is used for municipal and city functions. The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the Goethe prize by the city of Frankfurt are awarded at this historic setting.

The striking feature of the building is a modern mural that encircles the interior wall showing the procession of the people’s representatives into Paulskrische that stands today as the symbol of German democracy.

Why You Should Visit:
Free entry, with a wealth of information in English covering the German democratic process.

Tip:
Pop in for the excellent art exhibition in the basement (pieces are for sale but are on the expensive side).
Upstairs you can visit the room in which JFK gave his brief speech in 1963.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Old Nicholas Church (Alte Nikolaikirche)

5) Old Nicholas Church (Alte Nikolaikirche)

The Old St Nicholas Church (German: Alte Nikolaikirche) is a medieval Lutheran church located near the Römer city hall in Frankfurt's Altstadt (Old Town). It is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of fishermen. The first chapel on this site was built in the mid-12th century, while the current in the mid-15th. The foundations of the previous Nikolaikirche found during excavations are now marked on the floor and give the impression of its dimensions.

The Reformation proved a turning point in the history of Nikolaikirche. In 1543 the church was closed and its altars demolished. The building was leased for over 150 years and used as an archive for the municipal jury and, at times, as a warehouse during trade fairs. A trumpeter watchman stationed in the steeple, announced the arrival of boats up and down the Main by blowing a horn. The bugle was also sounded, like the modern day alarm, when fires were sighted.

In the 15th century, a tower with leveled roof and a balcony were added to the existing structure. The balcony served as a viewing gallery for aristocrats when passion plays and other events took place in the plaza below. In 1838, the church was completely renovated. The previously closed northern portal, facing Saturday Mountain, was opened and the roof, gallery and corner turret were renewed. In 1903, the damaged cast-iron spire was torn down and replaced in 1904 by the pointed copper roof that still exists.

During World War II, the Alte Nikolaikirche was one of the very few historical buildings in downtown Frankfurt spared from destruction by aerial warfare. Only the 19th century organ, despite being walled in, had become unusable from the effects of the war for reasons not quite known. The reconstruction of the building, started in the summer of 1947, was completed relatively quickly by the end of December 1948.

The church has a double aisle hall with a high Gothic choir and 51 bells, four of which are used for peals and 47 for carillons. The church is also renowned for its acoustics. Organ concerts, hand bells, trumpets, choirs and brass bands are hosted here regularly during the year. Another attraction is the spiral stairway leading to the gallery which affords a spectacular view of Romerberg plaza.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Frankfurt Cathedral

6) Frankfurt Cathedral (must see)

Frankfurt Cathedral is a Gothic-style Roman Catholic temple dedicated to Saint Bartholomew. It is the main and the largest religious sight in Frankfurt – the height of its spire reaches 95 meters. Despite the name, it has never been a true cathedral though, but is called so – Kaiserdom (Imperial Cathedral) or simply the Dom – for its importance as a former election and coronation church of the Holy Roman Empire.

The present building is the third church on this site. The early temple was constructed over a 7th-century Merovingian chapel in 1250. A Gothic tower was added in the 15th century. In 1356, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor issued the Golden Bull by which all emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were to be elected in this collegiate church as kings of Germany; from 1562 to 1792, all emperors-elect had been crowned here as well.

In 1867, St. Bartholomew's was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in its present style. During WWII, between October 1943 and March 1944, the Old Town of Frankfurt had been devastated by six bombardments of the Allied Air Forces. The cathedral also suffered severe damage; its interior burned out completely and was reconstructed only in the 1950s.

St. Bartholomew's houses many splendid works of art, including a unique high altar and the Maria Schlaf altar located in St. Mary’s chapel. Inside, there is an Anthony Van Dyke Painting, ‘The Lamentation’, and a museum with many historic pieces including objects discovered in a grave of a Merovingian girl.

Why You Should Visit:
Admission is free and, if lucky, you may enjoy some impressive organ music, or take in panoramic views of Frankfurt from atop the cathedral's tower (for a small fee).

Tip:
Try and go on a weekday to avoid weekend crowd; make sure to take a bottle of water if you decide to climb the tower.

Opening Hours:
[Church] Mon-Thu, Sat: 9am-12pm / 1:15-8pm, Fri: 1:15-8pm; Sun: 1-8pm
[Tower] Daily: 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct), 10am-5pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Dominican Monastery (Dominikanerkloster)

7) Dominican Monastery (Dominikanerkloster)

The Dominican Monastery in Frankfurt was the earliest church and Christian monastery in the city. Today, it serves as an exhibition hall and meeting place and is the seat of the Protestant Evangelical Association consisting of Evangelical Churches and Deaneries in the region. The Synod of the Evangelical Church in Hessen and Nassau is convened here, twice every year.

The monastery established in 1233 had humble beginnings. The first Dominican brothers built a small house with four rooms and set about their task of providing religious instruction to the local people. This small house served as the entrance to the monastery. In the 14th century the monastery consisted of many scholars and received generous donations from citizens in appreciation of the good work performed by the monks and a richly decorated monastery and chapel were constructed. The building was taken over by the Lutherans after the reformation. The city obtained the monastery during the secularization period and put it to several non religious uses.

The design of the monastery was Gothic and the structure was made of rubble stone. It was almost completely destroyed after the Second World War. After the war, architect Gustav Scheinpflug designed a new structure based on the layout of the old monastery. The new structure has a Gothic style with modern interiors. Of the old building, only the choir of the Holy Ghost Church remains. The courtyard of the monastery plays host to a folk theater performance every summer and concerts by the Church Music Association Frankfurt.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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