The Hauptwache, meaning “Main Watch,” is a holdover from Frankfurt’s past as a self-protected city-state. The old building houses a café that looks out over a busy plaza. The building was completed in 1730 as the headquarters for the city’s militia, although it lost this role in the 19th century when Frankfurt was annexed by Prussia.
Today, the Hauptwache is a preserved baroque-style building in the center of reconstructed and modernized Frankfurt. Notice the curved roof and the detailed redbrick molding on the building’s many windows.
The Hauptwache has served as a café since 1905. Take a seat for a taste of a Frankfurt specialty: green sauce with eggs and potatoes alongside a glass of apple wine.
The plaza around the Hauptwache is one of the busiest places in Frankfurt. It is located in the center of the city’s main districts; most subway lines intersect at its train station. Walk from the Hauptwache to some of Frankfurt’s famous shopping districts, including the Zeil to the east and Goethestrasse to the west.
Look across the plaza from the Hauptwache to see St. Catherine’s Church. This is where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German author born in Frankfurt, was baptized in 1749. It was completely destroyed by Allied bombs during World War II, so the church you see today is a reconstruction.
While the Hauptwache is one of Frankfurt’s oldest surviving buildings, from its doors you can see some of the city’s most unconventional modern structures. The Nextower, which is northeast of the Hauptwache, is built in such a way that it appears ready to fall to pieces. The MyZeil building, east of the Hauptwache, looks like a gigantic hole has been punched from the outside into its glass facade.
You can easily reach the Hauptwache from anywhere in the city because the majority of U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines pass through the train station here. The café is open every day.