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Frankfurt am Main is a city in Hesse, Germany. Typically referred to among English speakers as Frankfurt, though it was once known as Frankfort-on-Main with English speakers. It should not be confused with another Frankfurt in Germany: see Frankfurt an der Oder.

Situated at the Main river, it is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth largest city of Germany. It has a population of approximately 650,000.

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 History
3 Twinning
4 People born in Frankfurt
5 Sights
6 External links


Finance, transport (it is the transport hub of Germany), and exhibitions are the three pillar industries of Frankfurt. Frankfurt has been Germany's financial capital for centuries. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange is Germany's largest, the site of 85% of Germany's turnover in stocks, and one of the world's biggest. Frankfurt is also the home of the European Central Bank and the German Bundesbank. Many large trade fairs also call Frankfurt home, notably Messe Frankfurt.

During WWII, Frankfurt was heavily bombed, though the city quickly recovered.

Frankfurt is often called "Bankfurt" or "Mainhatten". It is the only European city that has a significant number of high-rise skyscrapers. In fact, the city contains the tallest skyscraper in Europe, along with 8 of the tallest 10. In Germany, only Frankfurt and Düsseldorf have high-rise skyscapers.

Frankfurt is sometimes referred to as the jewel in the crown of a united Europe. It has financial skills, central location, infrastructure and an airport - Europe's second busiest after London Heathrow.

Frankfurt has a number of institutions, among them its university, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, as well as a number of museums, most of them lined up along the Main river on the Museumsufer (museum shore) and a large botanical garden, the Palmengarten. The best known museums are the Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, or short Städel, and the Naturmuseum Senckenberg. The Museum für moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art) and Schirn Kunsthalle (Schirn Art Galery) are also notable.


In the area of the Römer roman settlements were established, probably in the first century, with some artefacts remaining. Also, the city district Bonames has a name probably dating back to Roman times, Bonames is thought to be derived from bona me(n)sa.

The name of Frankfurt on the Main river is derived from the Franconofurt of the Germanic tribe of the Franks; Furt (cf. English ford) denotes a low point passage across a stream or river. Alemanni and Franks lived there and by 794 Charlemagne presided over an imperial assembly and church synod, at which Franconofurd (-furt -vurd) is first mentioned. However, since frank is also an old German word for frei (meaning "free"), Frankfurt was a "free ford," an opportunity to cross the river Main without paying bridgetoll.

In the Holy Roman Empire, Frankfurt was one of the most important cities. Since 855 the German kings/emperors were elected in Frankfurt, Lothar II being the first one, and then crowned in Aachen. Since 1562 the kings/emperors were also crowned in Frankfurt, Maximilian II being the first one. This tradition ended in 1792, when Franz II was elected. He was crowned, on purpose, on July 14, anniversary of the storm on the Bastille. The elections and coronations took place in the cathedral St. Bartholomäus, known as the Kaiserdom (en: Emperors Cathedral), or in its predecessors. (Old paragraph: In the Holy Roman Empire, Frankfurt was one of the most important cities. Over several centuries, German kings and emperors were crowned here, initially after having been elected in Aachen. )

The Frankfurter Messe (en: Frankfurt trade fair) was first mentioned in 1150. In 1240, Emperor Friedrich II granted an Imperial privilege to its visitors, meaning they would be protected by the Empire. Since 1478, book trade fairs are held in Frankfurt, the Frankfurter Buchmesse still is the most important in Germany and, some might say, the world.

In 1372 Frankfurt became a Reichsstadt (en:Imperial city), i.e. directly subordinate to the emperor and not to a king or a local nobleman.

Frankfurt managed to remain neutral during the Thirty Years' War, but it suffered nonetheless from the plague that was brought to the city by refugees. After the end of the war Frankfurt regained its wealth.

In the Napoleonic Wars Frankfurt was occupied or cannonaded several times by French troops. The Grand Duchy of Frankfurt, a vassal state of France, remained a short episode that lasted only from 1810 to 1813. The Congress of Vienna dissolved this entity, and Frankfurt entered the newly founded German Confederation as a free city. It became the seat of the Bundestag which was the parliament of the German Confederation.

After the ill-faithed revolution of 1848, Frankfurt was home to the first German National Assembly (Nationalversammlung), which resided in St. Paul's Church (Paulskirche) (see German Confederation for details) and was opened on May 18th, 1848. The institution failed in 1849 when the Prussian king declared that he won't accept a "crown from the gutter". In the year of its existence the assembly had developed a common constitution for a unified Germany with the Prussian king as its monarch.

Frankfurt lost its independence in 1866. The Austro-Prussian War was over, and Prussia annexed several smaller states, among them the city of Frankfurt. The Prussian administration incorporated Frankfurt into its province of Hesse-Nassau.

In 1914, the citizens of Frankfurt founded the University of Frankfurt, later called Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. This is the only civic foundation of a university in Germany; it is today one of Germany's largest.

During the Nazi era the synagogues of Frankfurt were destroyed. The city of Frankfurt was severely bombed in World War II. After the end of the war Frankfurt became a part of the newly founded state of Hesse. There was some debate over whether Frankfurt should be the capital of West Germany. In the end, Konrad Adenauer (the first post-war Chancellor) preferred the tiny city of Bonn, for the most part because it was his hometown, but also for another reason; at the time, the Germans feared that making Frankfurt the capital of West Germany would give the Americans too much influence over the German government, as Frankfurt was in the American-controlled sector of the Allied Occupation Zones.


Frankfurt is twinned with

People born in Frankfurt



The Cathedral Saint Bartholomeus (Dom Sankt Bartholomäus) is a Gothic construction which was built in the 14th and 15th century on the foundation of an earlier church from the Merovingian time. It is the main church of Frankfurt. From 1356 on the kings of the Holy Roman Empire were elected in this church, and from 1562 to 1792 the emperors were crowned here.

Since the 18th century Saint Bartholomeus has been called "the cathedral" by the people although it has never been a bishop's seat. In 1867 the cathedral was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in its present style. The height of the cathedral is 95 m.


The name of the town hall means "Roman". It is in fact three houses which were acquired by the city council in 1405 from a wealthy merchant family. The middle house became the town hall and was later connected with the neighbouring buildings. In the upper floor there is the Kaisersaal ("Emperor's Hall") where the newly crowned emperors held their banquets.

The Römer was destroyed in World War II, but rebuilt afterwards.

Saint Paul's Church

Saint Paul's Church (Paulskirche) is a rather new church. It was established in 1789 as a Protestant church but not finished until 1833. Its importance has its root in the Frankfurt Parliament which was held here in 1848/49 in order to develop a constitution for a united Germany. The institution failed because the monarchs of Prussia and Austria did not want lose power; in 1849 Prussian troops ended the democratic experiment by force of arms, and the parliament was dissolved. Afterwards the building was used for church services again.

Saint Paul was completely destroyed in World War II but quickly rebuilt. Today it is not used as a sacral building anymore but for exhibitions. In 1963 US president John F. Kennedy made a speech in Saint Paul during his visit to Frankfurt.


The famous opera house of Frankfurt (Alte Oper) was built in 1880 by the architect Richard Lucae. It was one of the major opera housed of Germany until its destruction in World War II. It was not until 1981 that the old opera was eventually rebuilt and opened. Today it is a concert hall while operas are performed in a building from 1951.

See also: Frankfurt International Airport, Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, Frankfurt School

External links