St. Paul's Church

The seat of the first German parliament is a colorful church with insights into the nation’s history next to artworks and an expansive main hall.

Visit St. Paul’s Church to get a glimpse of the history of the German nation. This 19th-century Lutheran church was the seat of Germany’s first democratic parliament in 1848. The building sits just west of the ancient Frankfurt Cathedral, where the crowning of Holy Roman emperors was held for centuries.

The church consists of a large, oval hall and a single clock tower made of dark red sandstone. Peek into the main hall to see the bright and expansive meeting place that was once the site of heated political discussions. Today, the hall is no longer used as a church, but it hosts various events. Every three years, the church hosts the awards ceremony for the Goethe Prize, which is the most distinguished literary prize of the German language.

Learn more about Germany’s political history in the permanent exhibition on the basement level. Entitled “St. Paul’s Church: Symbol of Democratic Freedom and National Unity,” the exhibition tracks how Germany became a unified nation in the first place. During 1848, the loose collection of German states was torn by popular revolutions. The people demanded a more democratic government. They wanted one state to unify the many separate German-speaking lands. To solve these problems, a democratically elected parliament began meeting in St. Paul’s Church. Although they didn’t enact any policies, due to disagreement and lack of Prussian support, the parliament represented a huge step toward German unification and democracy.

The basement of St. Paul’s Church features a richly detailed mural by Berlin painter Johannes Grützke, depicting the path of the first German parliament to St. Paul’s Church. Notice the naked men wrestling and struggling in front of a line of politicians shuffling toward their destination.

The main Old Town subway and tram stop is a short walk from the church. If you are in a car, park for a small fee in the garage on Kornmarkt.  St. Paul’s Church is open daily. There’s no fee to enter and the exhibits are also free.

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