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For other uses, see Frankfurt (disambiguation)
Coat of arms of Frankfurt Location of Frankfurt in Germany
Federal state Hesse
Administrative region Darmstadt
District none
Population 657,126 (2005)
Area 248.31 km²
Population density 2,646/km²
Elevation 112 m
Coordinates 50°7′ N 8°41′ E
Postal code 60001-60599,
Area code 069, 06109, 06101
Licence plate code F
Mayor Petra Roth (CDU)

[ˈfraŋkfʊrt] is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany. Situated on the Main river, it is the seat of the European Central Bank and the largest financial center in Germany.

Among English speakers it is commonly known simply as "Frankfurt", though Germans more frequently call it by its full name to distinguish it from the other Frankfurt in the German state of Brandenburg, known as Frankfurt an der Oder. It was once called Frankfort-on-the-Main in English, a direct translation of Frankfurt am Main.



The skyline of Frankfurt at night
The skyline of Frankfurt at night
Twin Tower of the Deutsche Bank
Twin Tower of the Deutsche Bank

Frankfurt has played a central role in the political history of Germany and the German states for centuries. From 855 to 1792 Frankfurt was the electoral city for the Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. In the 1848-49 revolutions it became a sort of revolutionary capital and was the seat of the first democratically elected German parliament, the Frankfurt Parliament, which met in the Frankfurter Paulskirche, or the St. Paul's Church.

The three pillars of Frankfurt's economy are finance, transport, and trade fairs. Frankfurt has been Germany's financial capital for centuries, and it is the home of a number of major banks and brokerages. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange is Germany's largest, and one of the world's most important. Frankfurt houses the European Central Bank, which sets monetary policy for the Eurozone economy, and the German Bundesbank. It also houses a number of major commercial banks, including Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, and Commerzbank. Frankfurt's financial industry gives it the highest GDP per capita of major cities in Europe and makes it fifteenth in total GDP production as a city.[1]

Frankfurt has an excellent transportation infrastructure and a major international airport and European transportation hub, the Frankfurt International Airport. Depending whether total passengers or flights are used to measure, it ranks as the second or third busiest in Europe alongside London Heathrow Airport and Paris' Charles de Gaulle. And many large trade fairs take place in Frankfurt each year, notably the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (Frankfurt Motor Show) and the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Frankfurt is often nicknamed "Bankfurt" or "Mainhattan" (derived from the local Main River). It is one of only four European cities that have a significant number of high-rise skyscrapers. With nine skyscrapers taller than 150 m (492 ft) in 2004, Frankfurt is second behind Paris (La Défense and Montparnasse, with twelve skyscrapers taller than 150 m, not counting the Eiffel Tower), but ahead of London (Canary Wharf and the City, with eight skyscrapers taller than 150 m) and Moscow (seven skyscrapers taller than 150 m). The city of Frankfurt contains the tallest skyscraper in the European Union, the Commerzbank Tower, which is also the second tallest on the continent (after the Triumph-Palace building in Moscow).

Yet Frankfurt has a different feel from New York City, and many residents prefer its nickname of "the smallest metropolis of the world." Despite the central concentration of tall buildings, the city has many open natural spaces and a spread-out city plan, which make some of the large buildings look a bit lonely in comparison to other global financial centers such as those in New York, Singapore, or Shanghai.

Frankfurt is also home to many cultural and educational institutions, the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, many museums, most of them lined up along the Main river on the Museumsufer (museum embankment), and a large botanical garden, the Palmengarten. Frankfurt's second major university, Business School of Finance and Management, focuses on finance. The best known museums are das Städelsche Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, called Städel, and the Senckenberg Natural History Museum. Others include the Museum for Modern Art and the Schirn Art Gallery.

During World War II Frankfurt was bombed heavily, and its medieval city center was completely destroyed. The city recovered relatively quickly after the war, as it was the headquarters of the American occupying power.


In the area of the Römer, Roman settlements were established, probably in the first century; some artifacts from that era are found to this day. The city district Bonames has a name probably dating back to Roman times - it is thought to be derived from bona me(n)sa. Nida (Heddernheim) was also a Roman civitas capital.

The name of Frankfurt on the Main 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 ("free"), Frankfurt was a "free ford," an opportunity to cross the river Main without paying a toll.

In the Holy Roman Empire, Frankfurt was one of the most important cities. From 855 the German kings and emperors were elected in Frankfurt and crowned in Aachen. From 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 Bastille Day, 14 July, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. The elections and coronations took place in St. Bartholomäus cathedral, known as the Kaiserdom (en: Emperor's Cathedral), or in its predecessors.

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 have been held in Frankfurt, the Frankfurter Buchmesse being still 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 Holy Roman Emperor and not to a king or a local nobleman.

Frankfurt managed to remain neutral during the Thirty Years' War, but it suffered 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 lasting 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-fated 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 18 May 1848. The institution failed in 1849 when the Prussian king declared that he would not accept "a crown from the gutter". In the year of its existence, the assembly 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. The formerly independent towns of Bornheim and Bockenheim were incorporated in 1890.

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; today it is one of Germany's largest universities.

In 1924 Ludwig Landmann became the first Jewish Mayor of the city, and led a significant expansion during the following years. However, during the Nazi era, the synagogues of Frankfurt were destroyed.

The city of Frankfurt was bombed severely in World War II. About 5 500 residents were killed during the raids, and the once famous medieval city center, by that time the largest in Germany, was completely annihilated. The reconstruction after the war took place in an (often simple) modern style, thus irrevocably changing the architectural face of Frankfurt. Only very few landmark buildings have been reconstructed historically, albeit in a simplified manner.

After the end of the war Frankfurt became a part of the newly founded state of Hesse, consisting of the old Hesse-(Darmstadt) and the Prussian Hesse provinces. Frankfurt was the original choice for the provisional capital of West Germany - they even went as far as constructing a new parliament building that has never been used for its intended purpose, and is now a TV studio. In the end, Konrad Adenauer (the first post-war Chancellor) preferred the tiny city of Bonn, for the most part because it was close to his hometown, but also for another reason; many other prominent politicians opposed the choice of Frankfurt out of concern that Frankfurt, one of the largest German cities, and a former center of the old German-dominated Holy Roman Empire, would be accepted as a "permanent" capital of Germany, thereby weakening the West German population's support for reunification and the eventual return of the capital city to Berlin.



Frankfurt is a multicultural city. Most immigrants are from Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, or Italy. About 175 different nationalities reside in Frankfurt.


For a long time Frankfurt was a Protestant-dominated city. However, during the 19th century an increasing number of Catholics moved to the city. Today some 45 % of the inhabitants are Protestant, 37 % Catholic. Other religious groups (18 %) includes Muslims and Jews. Frankfurt has the second largest Jewish community (after Berlin) in Germany.


Geographic location

The city is located on both sides of the Main River. The southern part of the city contains the Frankfurt City Forest (Frankfurter Stadtwald) Germany's largest urban forest.

Neighboring communities and areas

To the West, Frankfurt borders the Main-Taunus district (Cities and Municipalities Hattersheim am Main, Kriftel, Hofheim am Taunus, Kelkheim (Taunus), Liederbach am Taunus, Sulzbach (Taunus), Schwalbach am Taunus and Eschborn); to the Northwest the Hochtaunuskreis (Cities Steinbach (Taunus), Oberursel (Taunus) and Bad Homburg v.d. Höhe); to the North the Wetteraukreis (Cities Karben and Bad Vilbel); to the Northeast the Main-Kinzig district (Municipality Niederdorfelden and the city Maintal); to the Southeast the city Offenbach am Main; to the South the Offenbach district (City Neu-Isenburg); and to the Southwest the Groß-Gerau district (Cities Mörfelden-Walldorf, Rüsselsheim und Kelsterbach).

City divisions and districts

The city is divided into 46 Stadtteile or Ortsteile which are again divided into 118 Stadtbezirke or city districts. The largest Ortsteil in area is Sachsenhausen-Süd. Most Stadtteile are incorporated suburbs, or Vororte, or previously separate cities. Some like Nordend arose during the rapid growth of the city in the Gründerzeit after the unification of Germany. Others were formed from settlements which previously belonged to other city divisions, like Dornbusch (Frankfurt am Main).

The 46 city divisions are combined into 16 area districts or Ortsbezirke, which each have a district committee and chairperson.

History of incorporation

Until the middle of the 19th century, the city territory of Frankfurt consisted of the present-day Stadtteile of Altstadt, Innenstadt, Bahnhofsviertel, Gutleutviertel, Gallusviertel, Westend, Nordend, Ostend and Sachsenhausen. After 1877, a number of previously independent areas were incorporated into the city, see list of current districts of the city.


Frankfurt Cathedral
Frankfurt Cathedral


Saint Bartholomeus' Cathedral (Dom Sankt Bartholomäus) is a Gothic building which was constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries on the foundation of an earlier church from the Merovingian time. It is the main church of Frankfurt. From 1356 onwards, kings of the Holy Roman Empire were elected in this church, and from 1562 to 1792 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.



For the full article, see Römer (Frankfurt am Main).

The name of the town hall means "Roman". It is in fact nine houses that 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 partially destroyed in World War II, and later rebuilt.

St. Paul's Church
St. Paul's Church

Saint Paul's Church

For the full article, see Frankfurter Paulskirche.

St. Paul's Church (Paulskirche) is a national historic monument in Germany with great political symbolism, because it was the seat of the first democratically elected Parliament in 1848. It was established in 1789 as a Protestant church but was not finished until 1833. Its importance has its root in the Frankfurt Parliament, which met in the church during the revolutionary years of 1848/49 in order to write a constitution for a united Germany. The attempt failed because the monarchs of Prussia and Austria did not want lose power, and 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.

St. Paul's was partially destroyed in World War II, particularly the interior of the building, which now has a modern appearance. It was quickly and symbolically rebuilt after the war; today it is not used for religious services, but mainly for exhibitions and events.

Old Opera

Opera House
Opera House

For the full article, see Alte Oper.

Alte Oper, Frankfurt's famous opera house, was built in 1880 by the architect Richard Lucae. It was one of the major opera houses of Germany, until its was destroyed in World War II. It was not until 1981 that the old opera was fully rebuilt and reopened. Today it functions as a concert hall and operas are performed in the Oper Frankfurt. The inscription on the frieze of the Old Opera says: "Dem Wahren, Schönen, Guten" ("To the true, the beautiful, the good").


Frankfurt is unique for its skyscrapers, and it is the only European city to allow skyscrapers within the old central part of town. Along with Paris and London, it also is one of the few European cities to have a significant numbers of skyscapers.

The major skyscrapers are:

Other structures

"Hammering Man" in front of the Messeturm skyscraper
"Hammering Man" in front of the Messeturm skyscraper
Henninger Turm 
a grain silo owned by Henninger Brewery with observation deck
a telecommunications tower known as the "Frankfurt TV Tower"

These two constructions are not open to the public.



Frankfurt hosts several festivals, fairs and carnivals throughout the year. The most famous is the Rheingau-Music-Festival with many (mostly classical) concerts at castles and under the open sky surrounded by vineyards. It takes place each May. Another major festival which takes place in Frankfurt, is the "Museumsuferfest"; "Museum-Riverbank-Festival". It is one of the biggest cultural festivals in Germany, which offers the oppertunity to see, buy, smell, taste and hear new things from all around the world. The festival takes place yearly at the end of summer and attracts an average of 3 million visitors. The festival goes over a period of 3 days and ends with a spectacular show of fireworks.


Culinary specialties


Sister cities

Frankfurt's sister cities are:

People born in Frankfurt

See also

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
  • 360°-Panoramas of Frankfurt - Indoor and outdoor day- and night-time panoramas, in full screen and with sound
  • Altfrankfurt - Gives an impression of the splendour of pre-war Frankfurt and its destruction in World War II
Skyline of Frankfurt, photographed from the south-west
Skyline of Frankfurt, photographed from the south-west

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