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Freiheitsplatz Hanau

Documentation of the latest redesign 2012-2015

Freiheitsplatz in Hanau (literally translated: freedom square) was the largest square in the city until the end of 2011. Then the major reconstruction project "Hanau baut um" began.
This article, and the photos, is for everyone who used to call Hanau home. People who were stationed here in the 1950s, 60s or later, and those who were born in Hanau and now live abroad.

Trees at Freiheitsplatz
Large trees at Freiheitsplatz...
Freiheitsplatz used as car park
...and a car park beneath
View to the main bus hub at Freiheitsplatz
The main bus hub

This is what Freiheitsplatz looked like as far back as I can remember, and until January 2012. The car park with beautiful trees on one side, and the bus station on the other. Admittedly, the bus station looked rather run down, this was the only fact about Freiehitsplatz I didn't like. The square was lined by small shops, cinemas, cafes and eateries. The milk bar was a favourite place when I was a teen, back in the late 60s. Des anyone remeber the milk bar?

Here's a short look further back in history

Originally, there was only a small place near the city gate between the old town and the Hanauer Neustadt. From 1768 to 1779, during a major redesign, the fortification walls between the "old" and "new" Hanau were torn down, and the trenches were filled. As a result, a large place was created, which was commonly known as "The Parade" at that time.

It was divided into two parts. The tree-lined Esplanade in the west was for people to stroll around, while the eastern part of the place was lined by an authority's building. This part was used by the military for parades, hence the name.

Old city map of Hanau
Medieval city plan
Freiheitsplatz Hanau around 1910
Freiheitsplatz 1910, photo taken from a Zeppelin

The above pictures were provided by the Hanau history society, they were on the tarpaulin that covered the site fence. There were also information boards on top of the viewing platform. It was nice to learn about the history of that place while major work was done again.

Journal of the huge changes at Freiheitsplatz Hanau

I can't remember when the discussions began that Hanau needs changes to become attractive for visitors again (=increase shopping). It was a long process. Several investors submitted their proposals, several groups of citizens opposed the plans. But finally, it was decided that the "Forum" will be built. A huge shopping centre plus a cultural section with the public library, and other educational and cultural institutions. The "Hanau baut um" project was on its way.

desolate place without trees
February 2012
One tree survived
The last survivor

It was a really a shock to see that bare, desolate place without any trees. That was indeed not an attractive place! The sole survivor really made it through 3 years of building activities. It is now surrounded by three buildings of the shopping centre.

demolition of a house
April 2012 - Demolition of the department store Karstadt
demolition of a house close up
Impressive, isn't it?

I've got no idea what this device is called, but it was impressive to see how it "ate up" the house, bit by bit.
This department store was opened in 1929 by the Hermann WronkerAG. The Jewish owners were forced to sell the house in 1934, it then was named Hansa. Later the store became Hertie, and finally Karstadt, until it was closed in 2010.

viewing platform
Viewing platform
all debris cleared
June 2012 all buildings were gone

A viewing platform was errected to enable curious citizens to have a look over the site fence. I admit, I used it quite often. And see, the tree is still alive, fenced in, so none of the big machines can hurt him.

archaeological excavations
Archaeological work
archaeological excavations
Archaeological work

The Archaeological excavations took slightly longer than planned, but it was quite fascinating to see bits and pieces of the old fortification, just a little below today's asphalt.

Building lot Hanau Freiheitsplatz
By the end of 2012 foundation work started.
Building lot Hanau Freiheitsplatz
October 2013 - still not much to see

Winter in early 2013 was a bit harsh, we even had snow again in March. So not too much happened at the building lot. The foundation work took ages, it was quite boring from a fotographer's point of view.

Building lot Hanau Freiheitsplatz 1
January 2014 Forum building lot
Building lot Hanau Freiheitsplatz 2
August 2014 Bus station

Finally, during 2014, one could see progress! And look, the lonely tree really survives, as you see in the top left picture. Top right is one of the new platforms at the adjacent bus station. Of course, the ramshackle bus hub was rebuilt as well.

Building lot Hanau Freiheitsplatz
October 2014 View from Hammerstra├če
Building lot Hanau Freiheitsplatz
October 2014 View from the Bus station

It is unbelievable how fast the five buildings grew during the year 2014!

Building lot Hanau Freiheitsplatz
January 2015
New bus station at Freiheitsplatz
The new bus station was the first to be finished in summer 2015

As you can see in the left photo, it was often like being in a maze, when you needed to hurry from one place to another. Sometimes I just couldn't stand the red and white barriers anymore. Freiheitsplatz was not the only building lot at that time. The market square, malls and streets were enhanced at the same time.

Forum Hanau
Forum Hanau
Kulturforum Hanau
Kulturforum with the library

Finally! On 10. September 2015 Forum Hanau was opened. With more than 90 shops and a sales area of 22.500 qm, it is one of the largest shopping centres in the region. The modern public library invites book worms to use the services from Monday to Saturday.
Believe it or not, the tree in the left picture is the "sole survivor" I mentioned earlier on this page. He really made it through all the hassle.

Square with trees and a fountain
The new city square next to the bus station
historical piece of stone
Piece of embrasure of the old fortification

I really like the city square, it is full of life, especially in summer. I can tell you kids love the fountain. The new bus station is also a huge improvement.
The shopping centre? It is too big, to much concrete, too many shops. You see, I am not a keen shopper. :)

So I hope you like the photos, and perhaps you are happy to have such a large shopping centre to go to when you come to the new Freiheitsplatz in Hanau.

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Copyright © 2010- Rita Amend.