Friedberg (Hessen) is situated at an elevation of 140 m on the river Usa, shortly before its confluence with the river Wetter, about 30 km north of Frankfurt am Main in the Wetterau region. The municipality has a population of about 27,500 (2012) and is the seat of the administration of the district Wetteraukreis.
At the beginning of the 1st century AD a Roman fort was built on this site during the campaigns of Germanicus. A few decades later, the fort was refounded under emperor Vespasian (69–79 AD). This fort was finally abandoned by the Romans in 260 AD. The modern castle and town of Friedberg are believed to be founded on the order of Emperor Friedrich I (Barbarossa) between 1171 and 1180. The oldest known written document mentioning the castle dates from 1216, the oldest one mentioning the town was written in 1219. Castle and town were independent entitities each with own territories within the Holy Roman Empire. Similar to the historic situation of Nuremberg, the legal separation of castle and town caused continuous and often bitter rivalry between the two. The city became a Free Imperial City (Freie Reichsstadt) of the Holy Roman Empire with a charter given in 1252. Conveniently located at important trading routes, the city initially rivaled Frankfurt am Main economically, with an important annual trading fair, and initial rapid expansion, though its economic fortunes soon dwindled. In 1802, Under Napoleon, the town (followed by the castle in 1806) was incorporated in the Grand Duchy of Hesse (Hesse-Darmstadt). Town and castle were finally united in 1834. Friedberg's old town quarter once housed a prosperous Jewish community that was totally wiped out during World War II. Friedberg was the home to the U.S. Army installation Ray Barracks. In 2007 the installation was closed permanently and was returned to the city of Friedberg. The base is notable as the duty station of Elvis Presley during his military stint in Europe, who lived in nearby Bad Nauheim. Ray Barracks is further known for being the first duty station of former US Secretary of State and retired four-star General, Colin Powell who was stationed there as a Second Lieutenant in 1958.
The Town Church Unser Lieben Frau (Lady Church) [left, no. 2956: bottom left] was built from 1260 until 1410 as a Gothic hall church in place of an older, Romanesque basilica from the 12th century. The construction of the western façade, originally planned with two mighty towers, was halted in 1410 as Friedberg Castle feared that it could be used as a base for artillery fire on the castle. As a consequence, the north tower was finished with a slated roof steeple (62 m high) while the south tower was left unfinished. During the Reformation period, in 1541, the church became Lutheran. As a consequence of the exonomic decline of Friedberg the church had become so derelict by the end of the 19th century that parts of the church's treasury had to be sold to pay for the renovation. Choir and transepts were demolished and rebuilt in 1896–1901, the other parts of the church were renovated.
Friedberg castle [left, no. 2956: bottom right] is one of Germany's largest castles, covering an area of 3.9 hectares.
Together with the town, the castle was built on a basalt rock between 1171 and 1180. The oldest document mentioning the castle dates from 1216.
The castle became the centre of the burgraviate Friedberg, separate from the town. Like the town, the castle also became immediate to the Empire.
During the 15th century, it had its largest political influence as the centre of the Wetterau region. From the 17th century on, the castle was transformed to
a more representative residential castle. The castle remained independent until 1806 when it was mediatised into the Grand Duchy of Hesse(-Darmstadt)
in 1806. In 1834 it was finally incorporated into the town of Friedberg.
[Other glasses in this collection show Friedberg in Styria, Austria, Frymburk in southern Bohemia, Czech Republic, which in German was also called Friedberg, and Frýdek-Místek, which during the time of the German occupation was named Friedek-Friedberg.]