The Hauptwache is a central point of Frankfurt am Main and is one of the most famous plazas in the city. The original name Schillerplatzwas superseded in the early 1900s.
The baroque building which gave the square its name was built in 1730. It was the headquarters of the city's Stadtwehr militia when Frankfurt was an independent city state and also contained a prison. In the 18th century Frankfurt still had city walls and its own army. In 1833 during the Frankfurter Wachensturm, the Hauptwache was stormed in failed effort by a small revolutionary force. When Prussia annexed the city in 1866 and took over military activities, the Hauptwache lost this role.
The prison remained and the Hauptwache also became a police station. In 1904, the building was used as a café and remains one to this day. Heavily burned in World War II bombing, it was reopened in a provisional form with an altered roof in 1954. In 1967, with the building of the U-Bahn tunnel through the city, it was dismantled so it could be moved and rebuilt over the new underground U-Bahn station. The plaza has undergone another major renovation when the S-Bahn station for suburban trains was opened in 1978.
Today, Hauptwache station serves as one of the most important crosspoints of the Frankfurt public transport system. Eight of nine S-Bahn lines serve the station as well as five of seven U-Bahn lines.
The plaza has been reformed several times. Its current appearance is marked by a sunken terrace leading down to underground pedestrian area with shops and the public transport station. Frankfurters call the sunken area "the Hole"(das Loch).
The plaza contains a number of different architectural styles. Apart from the baroque Hauptwache itself, the surrounding buildings are mostly new architecture because of the damage from the war.