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Frankfurt History

Having survived wars, occupation, plagues and the destructive lick of fires, the one thing that’s remained constant for Frankfurt am Main is its resilience as an international trade city.

From its inaugural fair in 1157 to becoming home to the European Central Bank in 1998, Frankfurt has been Germany's financial centre for centuries.

Originally documented as Franconovurt (City of Franks) as early as 794, there is evidence to suggest that the city’s cathedral hill had been under continuous settlement for many years before that, since at least 3000BC.

The Romans established a military camp here in AD83 and the Golden Bull decree, issued by Luxembourg Emperor Charles IV, made the city the permanent home for Roman kings from 1356 onwards.

Years of stability saw the Frankfurt Börse (Stock Exchange) begin trading in the late 16th century, but by 1614 the city was under Swedish occupation.

Thousands of its citizens then died in the 1630s following a plague outbreak, before two fires tore through the Jewish Quarter in 1711 and 1721.

Between 1879 and 1914 Frankfurt started to establish its modern economic and cultural value. Its majestic opera house, Alte Oper, opened in 1880 and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University began accepting students in 1914.

With a main railway station installed in 1888, the population grew by over 300,000 in some 30 years, and Lord Mayor Franz Adicke pushed for the city to become a industrial trade hub.

In 1957, the Deutsche Bundesbank moved operations to the city and many other international financial institutions followed.

Severely bombed by Allied forces in WWII, the cathedral and a number of old buildings in the Römerberg area were reconstructed.

Work to rebuild the Old Town between the cathedral and the city hall is due for completion by 2017.

Frankfurt has become a remarkably cosmopolitan city, with an estimated 180 different nationalities living here.

Did you know?
• Writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in Frankfurt in 1749.
• An 1860 law stipulated that only sausages made in Frankfurt could be called Frankfurter Würstchen.
• Frankfurt hosted five FIFA World Cup matches in 2006.

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Pension Aller

This delightful guest house might be small in size but it offers great service and a homely atmosphere. Situated in the tranquil Gutleutviertel quarter, Pension Aller is ideal for visiting the busy city by day but offers a remote oasis of peace and quiet at night. Advance booking is required for this popular no-frills establishment.

Hotel Am Berg

This beautiful neo-romantic hotel is quietly situated in a private villa in the quarter of Sachsenhausen. Its special ambience and warm and quirky décor make every visitor feel at home and at ease. There are a small number of guest rooms and most are en suite. Wireless internet, tea- and coffee-making facilities, as well as newspapers and magazines, are always available.

Gerbermühle

Housed in a former mill building on the south bank of the Main about 4km (2.5 miles) east of the main railway station, this small boutique hotel is where Goethe is said to have met Marianne von Willemer, who he'd later write poetry about. With only 19 rooms and suites, the hotel has very high standard in terms of comfort and service, offering a refreshing alternative to the major chain hotels that are so prevalent in Frankfurt.

Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof

Destroyed during WWII and entirely rebuilt by hotelier Albert Steigenberger, this fantastic listed building combines historical glory and modern convenience. Despite the elegant furnishings, the discreet service and the majestic atmosphere, Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof retains character and intimacy. The facilities are fantastic, including a wellness club and business centre. For very important guests, who require extra special treatment, the Presidential Suite even has bullet-proof windows.

Villa Kennedy

Now under the wing of the acclaimed Rocco Forte luxury hotel group the Villa Kennedy is firmly in the 5-star-plus category. Situated in the city centre, on the south bank of the Main and close to Sachsenhausen, the hotel consists of three buildings and the Villa Speyer, a building dating from the early 20th century. The Gusto restaurant vies with the very best in Frankfurt, while for those in need of rest and relaxation, there are full leisure and spa facilities including a swimming pool. The hotel also offers a number of meetings and events spaces for the business visitor and is a favourite with visiting celebrities too.

Hotel Palmenhof

The fine architecture of this elegant Westend building is more reminiscent of a historic palace than a modern hotel. However, the rooms of this small but stylish art nouveau residence, furnished throughout with sophisticated antiques, provide all the contemporary comforts of 21st-century business life. Satellite TV, private safes and wireless internet are basic standards in all rooms.