To begin this work, I will mention that this image is based on a view from the southwest of Frankfurt in the 17th century. It is located in front of a navigable river called Main (Meno), which gives this place the name of “Frankfurt am Main” and allows to differentiate this city from the other “Frankfurt an der Oder”. Its port is facing the river and is an important point for communications. This place was already inhabited about year 3000 BC and has been confirmed by the archaeologists as a significant economic and trade centre.
There is a neighbour town called Sachsenhausen, which is situated on the other side of the river and characterizes the city structure. In the picture, this is connected to the old centre of Frankfurt by a medium bridge called Alte Brücke. As we can observe, the shape of Frankfurt is predominantly linear in both sides of the river. In the same way, the image shows a nucleated pattern, in which houses are clustered around the main features of the city. The surroundings of our mentioned city are composed by high fortress for the protection of the population, which in that time were about 20,000 people.
The painting displays, as it was mentioned before, a bird’s-eye view of Frankfurt centuries ago. But it also shows the innumerable historical buildings and places that this city had. Some of the several ancient constructions and places are: Römerberg Square, Frankfurt Cathedral, Carmelite Monastery, Der Römer and the Church of the Three Kings. Thereby, in the first place we recognise the Römerberg Square situated at the center of the picture. Nowadays is one of the most visited places in Frankfurt, inasmuch as we find it in the old town of the city, at the right bank of the river. Its main characteristic is the presence of the Der Römer and the fountain of justice. Secondly, it’s easy to identify the 95 metres tower of the singular Frankfurt Cathedral. This enormous structure was built in the 15th and is located further right from Römerber square, specifically in Domplatz. It is interesting to notice that the coronation of the Emperor (from 1562 to 1792) took place in this marvelous cathedral. The next place to mention is the Church of the Three Kings, known as the Church of Magi. This wonderful place is located in the left bank of the river, crossing the bridge. This architecture was built as a Gothic Chapel in 1340 AD, and almost two centuries later was the first congregation in the city to reach the Reformation. Later, in 1690, the old Gothic structure was modified into a Baroque one. The next text square refers to the other important and most photographed building in Frankfurt, Der Römer.
Located in the aforementioned Römerberg Square,consists in a Gothic complex formed by three separated houses built in the 15th century. It suffered severe damages during the Second World War, but it was rebuilt after that. This stunning building witnessed the fortress built by Emperor Charles Magne to protect the city. To finish with this explanation about some important places in this city, I will talk about the Carmelite Monastery. This building is a Gothic monastery that can be shown on the left hand side of the image. What differentiates it from others, are the wall paintings made inside by Jerg Ratgeb from 1514 to 1517. These wall paintings are the largest known to the north of the Alps from that age.
The picture we have got here displays a Middle Ages city that increased its economy because of the fairs and commercial activities that had been taken place since 12th century. The main fair activities were: the autumn fair (since the 12th century), the spring fair (since 1330) and the book fair. This last one reached international proportions by around 1600. Nowadays, it is said this ancient city is consider to be an important shopping centre, with a famous street full of shops called Zeil. Since this image was painted, Frankfurt has developed from a successful way, increasing its population until 680,000 people.
Jimena Iruela Rivera