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Hanau is a city in the east of the Rhine-Main area where the Kinzig flows into the Main. It belongs to the Frankfurt metropolitan area, which is organized in the Frankfurt Rhein-Main Regional Authority, is one of the ten regional centers of the State of Hesse, special status city of the Main-Kinzig district and with 96,492 inhabitants (as of December 31, 2019) the sixth largest city and largest city in Hesse. Hanau is officially known as the Brothers Grimm City.

The former residence of the Lords and Counts of Hanau was largely destroyed by air raids in 1944/45. After its reconstruction in a strongly changed form, the city of Hanau is once again the economic and cultural center of the Main-Kinzig region and an important transport, industrial and technological location.



The oldest surviving mention of Hanau, as hagenouwa, dates from March 20, 1143, which later changes to Hagenowa (1151) or Hagenowe (1234, 1238, 1240). Toponomics today is based on a combination of the Germanic words Hagen and Aue. The name means something like "fenced or fortified settlement in a river landscape".

Middle Ages and Modern Times
The Hanau moated castle was first mentioned in 1143. A settlement developed around the castle in the period that followed. On February 2, 1303, King Albrecht I granted the Hanau settlement market and town rights. This included the right to hold markets and to elect a council with two mayors at the top, as well as freedom from serfdom (“city air makes you free”). During this time, construction of the first city wall began.

In the 15th century the city population had grown and the city expanded significantly. A suburb developed in the west, outside the first wall ring. In 1470 this suburb received its own fence. Under Count Philipp II of Hanau-Münzenberg, a city fortification was started in 1528 according to the technical standard of the Renaissance, which enclosed the two wall systems that were built in the Middle Ages.

The city received the greatest and essential growth impetus when Count Philip Ludwig II signed a treaty with Walloon and Dutch Calvinist refugees from France and the Spanish Netherlands on June 1, 1597. With the Huguenots, a lot of capital and specialist knowledge from the craft sector came to the city. In return for the assurance of free religious practice, the refugees undertook to do business in Hanau. They founded the Hanau Neustadt, an area three times the size of the old town, and brought its own architectural style to Hanau. They built their house on the street and in the back garden their factory. In addition to the goldsmiths, cloth makers, weavers and silk weavers as well as hat makers opened workshops and factories. With the arrival of the Walloons and the Dutch, the rise of Hanau to an important business location began. Until 1821, the Neustadt had its own, independent community, independent of the old town. Philip Ludwig II also settled Jews in Hanau; from 1604 there was again a Jewish community.

The county of Hesse-Hanau took part in the American War of Independence with 2,422 soldiers in four Hanau army units on the English side.

The battle of Hanau on October 30th and 31st, 1813 was won by Napoleon's troops.

In the 19th century Hanau was a center of the democratic movement in Germany. In 1830 and 1848 important revolutionary impulses came from here. To enforce the counterrevolution in Kurhessen, Hanau was occupied by federal intervention troops from Bavaria and Austria on November 1, 1850; these so-called penal Bavaria were withdrawn after six months in the summer of 1851. In 1910 barracks were put into operation in Hanau-Lamboy, which housed Prussian railway regiments. After the end of the First World War, the disbanding command of Military Railway Directorate 2 was located here before it was relocated to Berlin in August 1919.

In 1933, the National Socialists ended the democratic city administration soon after they came to power. After the “Nuremberg Laws” came into force, the Jews who remained until the beginning of the Second World War were deported and murdered. With good connections to the Berlin party and leadership at the time, the German Goldsmith's House was founded on October 18, 1942 in the building of the old town hall. The origin of the tradition of goldsmithing, which dates back to the beginning of the 17th century, has now been concealed.


The air raids on Hanau in World War II almost completely destroyed the city. After the attacks by the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) on the railway systems in autumn 1944, two devastating major attacks by the British RAF Bomber Command took place in the last months of the war. During the air raid on January 6, 1945, British bombers cut a wide swath through the old and new towns of Hanau. 90 people died. Many residents then left the city, only 15,000 remained. Eight days before the American invasion, the British air raid on March 19, 1945, called “Hanau's Fateful Day”, finally resulted in the complete destruction of the city. In a night attack with over 230 aircraft, 1200 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped, resulting in a firestorm. In the old town there were only seven of the previous 450 houses. But the new town also fell victim to the bombing. Overall, the city lost 80 percent of its building fabric. About 2500 people died in this attack. The population, which was 40,000 in 1938, including 300 Jews, fell to less than 10,000. Were destroyed u. a. the Evangelical Reformed Church, the Evangelical Lutheran St. John's Church, the Catholic Parish Church, the Reformed Dutch and Walloon Church, the City Palace, the Old Town Hall, the New Town Hall and the Frankfurt Gate of the New Town. Total losses without reconstruction were the hospital, grammar school (former high school), city theater, new armory, fountain on Neustädter Markt and many architecturally valuable town houses in the old and new towns. In 1939, the uncovering of half-timbered under plaster and the color design of old town houses had begun.

After light artillery bombardment, the ruined city was occupied on March 28, 1945 by the US Army under the command of the 4th US Armored Division. A demolition of the Auheim Main Bridge by Wehrmacht units failed on March 25th, whereupon fighting broke out there, as a result of which the German units withdrew to the east.

As in many West German cities, the reconstruction after the war saw the final destruction of the formerly medieval townscape. The ruins of the city palace, the armory and the city theater were torn down - against the protests of parts of the population and the Hanau history association - to make way for contemporary buildings. The same fate suffered parts of the previously preserved city wall and fortifications as well as large parts of the residential developments in the old and new towns, including many listed buildings such as the Edelsheim Palace.

With the establishment of the state of Greater Hesse on September 19, 1945 through Proclamation No. 2 of the American military government, Hanau, which previously belonged to the Free State of Prussia, became part of Hesse.

Hanau belonged to the American zone of occupation and became one of the largest US Army bases in Europe and the largest in Germany. The American military community of Garrison Hanau with locations in the district of Wolfgang, Hanau-Lamboy, Großauheim, the nearby Hanau Army Airfield as well as other barracks belonging to the garrison in the region comprised around 45,000 soldiers, civilian employees and employees at the height of the Cold War to defend the Fulda Gap Family members. On August 8, 2008, the entire garrison was finally closed. A conversion area of ​​around 350 hectares remained. Soon the construction of new residential and commercial areas began there.

Due to the almost complete destruction of Hanau's old town in the Second World War, the architecture of the inner city was shaped by the post-war years; massive modernization programs have been carried out here for several years: For example, the Freiheitsplatz, formerly the Paradeplatz and the Esplanade, has been largely replaced by a new one since 2013 Shopping center with approx. 22,500 square meters of retail space, new city library and underground car park built by the Hanseatic care and investment company. At the same time, the associated bus station was changed and modernized. The market square and a large part of the streets and paths have also been modernized and rebuilt. The renovation work - in particular the “Forum Hanau” shopping center - has been completed since autumn 2015. A new city quarter for up to 5000 people is currently being developed on the former Pioneer barracks in the Wolfgang district.


Global leading companies from the technology sector such as Heraeus, Umicore or Vacuumschmelze and the Dunlop tire works are based in Hanau. Hanau hit the headlines nationwide in the 1980s as a location for the nuclear industry and a now closed fuel element plant. A Technopark under the auspices of Siemens has been created on the former site of RWE Nukem.

In 2002 the second Hessian State Garden Show took place in the city.

Hanau was the district town of the Main-Kinzig district until June 2005, before the seat of the district administration was relocated to Gelnhausen. Hanau is currently a district town with a special status, and the aim is to achieve district freedom by January 1, 2022.

On February 19, 2020, a 43-year-old German from Hanau shot and killed nine people with immigrant backgrounds at various locations in the city, then his mother and himself. He acted for racist motives, as his “Manifesto” stated.

On April 1, 1907, Kesselstadt was incorporated into Hanau. As part of the regional reform in Hesse, the previously independent municipality of Mittelbuchen was incorporated on December 31, 1971. This was followed by state law on July 1, 1974, the previously independent town of Großauheim and the two communities of Steinheim (city) and Klein-Auheim, located south of the Main and from the Offenbach district.