St. Paul’s Church
A former church and the seat of the 1848–49 Frankfurt Parliament, St.Paul’s would become the definitive symbol of German democracy. Severely damaged in 1944, it was rebuilt by a team of architects around Rudolf Schwarz. They decided on a reduced reconstruction of the building, dividing the interior with an inserted floor. The new basement level is now used for a permanent exhibition while the hall on the main floor is a prestigious venue.
Construction on the church began in 1789 under Johann Georg Christian Hess (based on a design made by Johann Andreas Liebhardt), and was completed in 1833 by his son Johann Friedrich Christian Hess. Until its destruction it was Frankfurt’s primary Protestant church. The neoclassical building has an elliptical floor plan and gallery, square bell tower, and two rectangular staircases built of red sandstone, and was originally crowned by a domed roof. On May 18, 1848, the delegates to the Frankfurt National Assembly, the first elected German parliament, convened in St. Paul’s Church. It was destroyed in an air raid on March 18, 1944 and almost nothing of its original interior survived.
St. Paul’s Church was quickly rebuilt in 1947–48, only the original dome was replaced with a copper roof. The architects built an assembly room with a parliamentary seating arrangement and a low lobby below with a marble ambulatory. Milk-glass windows were used here as well as in the lower section of the wall. St. Paul’s Church was reopened as the „House of all Germans“ on May18, 1948, the centenary of the first National Assembly. While the unpretentious reconstruction of the church was due in part to a shortage of materials immediately after the war, it also symbolized the outlook of a chastened Germany, for which the architects found a form that still resonates. New windows were installed in the 1988 renovation that recall the originals. A new organ was also added. In 1991, the mural The Procession of the People’s Representatives to St. Paul’s Church by Johannes Grützke was unveiled in the ambulatory. The permanent exhibition St. Paul’s Church: Symbol of Democratic Freedom and National Unity went on show in 1985. A restoration scheduled to last until 2023 (to mark the 175th anniversary celebration of the Frankfurt National Assembly) is under discussion. [OH/HY]
Contact and opening hours
60311 Frankfurt am Main