There is a cliche in Germany about Frankfurters ( the city, not the sausages) : It says that these people never miss a chance to make a dime. And as usual there is a grain of history hidden in that : Since the days when Frankfurt entered history as a roman settlement guarding over trade routes overlapping from North, South, East and West, it owed its existence always to commerce. During the Middle Ages Frankfurt was a self governing city state ( until 1866 actually, when occupied by Prussia and later incorporated into the second Reich). It was the crowning place of german kings and emperors, since Frankfurts wealthy merchants usually remained neutral in conflicts and knew how to play those in power ( which is why Frankfurt recieved the privilege to be an "Imperial free city", subordinate only to the emperor (and taxable only by him), but no local ruler or noble family), its trade fair was already one of the biggest commercial events in Europe, and in 1585 Frankfurt also founded its own stock exchange ( as one of the oldest in Europe). Frankfurt was cosmopolitan and humming with visitors already in those days.
In 1848 Frankfurt was one of the centers of the democratic uprising of this year and the seat of the first democratic german parliament (that was crushed by prussian troops), and subsequently Frankfurt also lost its independence.
The citys commercial success though was unbroken. Yet that is also why Frankfurt, as the seat of Germanys finance industry ( home to the Deutsche Bank and a few others) suffered almost total destruction and the deaths of thousands of its people in WW II. Irrecoverable architectonic and cultural treasures were lost for good, such as Renaisssance palaces, archives, one of Europes largest ensembles of medieval half-timber houses, or the medieval "coronation route", that the emperor had to walk among his loyal or not so loyal subjects.
Yet : Post-war Frankfurt was hardly a beauty, and had lost its historical heart and character, but the trade fair was up and running again within a few years, and the dime kept rolling.
Today, Frankfurt is the seat of the European Central Bank and one of Europes financial hearts, and thus it was not a problem to shoulder the cost for a project that is unique : Reclaiming its past.
Frankfurt has over the course of years reconstructed the historical quarter between the "Römer", the medieval market place and the cathedral. Some 15 ancient houses, of which plans, fotos and data have survived, have been rebuilt, 20 are built in old style. The area was once the largest such old town in Germany, and home to poets (Goethe), philosophers (Schopenhauer), and composers (Telemann). Yet the new "old town" will not be a museum, it is designed to be a living quarter, with shops, appartments, pubs and restaurants :