Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heraldry in Frankfurt, Germany

After the Congress in Maastricht had finished up, Jo Ann and I hopped the train for Heidelberg, Germany.  (My great-grandfather was born there, and I'd had a genealogist trace the family as far back as possible there, and we were going to see what we could find that related to these ancestors.  But more on that later.)  We had to change trains in the Frankfurt main train station, and I had a little time to look around and see what heraldry was available there.  Not surprisingly, there were a few really great coats of arms there.

First and foremost was this deeply carved eagle (on a stone above it were the dates 1883 - 87; I'm assuming these are the dates of the construction of the station).  I'm pretty sure it's the arms of the city of Frankfurt, though the arms I've seen for the city do not have the scepter and orb.  See, for example, this depiction from the Heraldry of the World website.

Over a couple of other of the massive doorways in the station were these two coats of arms.

Based on the mural crowns surmounting each coat, these are clearly civic arms of some sort.  But just try looking up "a lion rampant" or "a bend" (possibly gules, if the hatching is correct), and you get more entries than I have the time or patience to sort through.  (The lion is not Heidelberg, whose arms have the lion crowned and atop a trimount, neither of which appear in the coat here.)  Possibilities include Brauschweig (Brunswick) for the lion and Strasbourg for the bend (again, assuming it is red), but I feel certain there are other, possibly even more likely, candidates.

I also find myself very impressed by the the carving of the laurel/oak wreaths surrounding the bases of the shields.  (As I am with all of the carving, really.  It was all very impressive.)

(Oh, yeah, and the little spiky things you can see on the ledge below the shield with the bend and atop the crown above the shield with the eagle?  Just a little something to keep the pigeons from alighting there and doing what pigeons all over the world do: crapping on the art.


  1. More great photos --- thanks.

    Could that Frankfurt eagle (which appears to be sporting a royal crown) be Prussia''s? Difficult to make out; but, that may be the cypher of intertwined FR (Fridricus Rex), of Frederick the Great, on his breast.

    Also, I think I see the "Kleestengeln" on the wings --- which Prussia's eagle would bear, but not Frankfurt's civic eagle.

  2. Good catch! The eagle here appears to be identical to the one on the Prussian flag, as found at


  3. I suppose that the the beast in the first civic arms is a bear (no lion tail, of any variety) and would thus likely represent Berlin. A quick glance through Siebmacher's 1605 plates of civic arms (Holy Roman Empire) shows one major town with a simple bend for arms: Strasbourg.

    Perhaps an expert on German Empire rail lines could make sense of this.

  4. The lack of a tail on the "lion" hadn't caught my attention! And yet, it seems to have a lion's mane. How very confusing! It certainly bears some more research.

  5. Well, that was quick. I went off to one of my favorite websites for civic heraldry, Heraldry of the World, and looked at the depictions of the arms of Berlin at There are several different drawings of the city's arms that give the bear a lion-like mane. I think that we will have to go with the identification of the other two coats of arms as Strasbourg and Berlin!

  6. Maybe it could be the second civic arms is a interpretation of the civic arms of Kassel, which was the capital of the prussian province Hessen-Nassau. And Frankfurt was part of this province.