Twinned with Birmingham in the UK, Frankfurt is the largest city in the Bundesland (federal state) of Hessen in Germany . As of 2010 its population was 690,000.
Frankfurt is also twinned with:
- Budapest, Hungary
- Kraków, Poland
- Granada, Nicaragua
- Guangzhou, China
- Lyon, France
- Milan, Italy
- Prague, CzechRepublic
The area around Frankfurt, which extends beyond the city boundaries, had an estimated population of 1,468,140 in 2000. The city is at the center of the larger Frankfurt Rhine Main Area which has a population of 5 million and is Germany's second largest metropolitan area.
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. The centre of Frankfurt is located on the north of Main River. Frankfurt itself is the financial and transport center of Germany. Frankfurt is the seat of the European Central Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and is one of the two largest financial centres in continental Europe (the other one being Paris). According to the Liverpool University, Frankfurt is the wealthiest city in the European Union as measured by GDP per capita. It is also listed as one of nine Alpha world cities.
Among English speakers the city is commonly known simply as "Frankfurt", though Germans occasionally call it by its full name when it is necessary to distinguish it from the other (significantly smaller) Frankfurt in the German state of Brandenburg, known as Frankfurt (Oder). It was once called Frankfort-on-the-Main in English, a translation of Frankfurt am Main.
The history of the city of Frankfurt am Main is the story of a hill at a ford in the Main that developed into a European banking metropolis, becoming the smallest metropolis in the world. Its other monikers include "Bankfurt" and "Mainhattan". 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 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.
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 (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 regional ruler or a local nobleman.
Frankfurt managed to remain neutral during the Thirty Years' War, but it suffered from the bubonic 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. It nevertheless still remainded a free city until the total collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in 1805/6. In 1806 it become part of the principality of Aschaffenburg under the Fürstprimas ('Prince-Primate', 25 July 1806 – 19 October 1813: Karl Theodor Anton Maria Kämmerer von Worms, Reichsfreiherr von Dalberg (b. 1744 – d. 1817), 1803–1806 Prince-archbishop of Regensburg). This also meant, that Frankfurt was incorporated into the confederation of the Rhine. In 1810 Dalberg adopted the title of a Grand Duke of Frankfurt. Napoleon intended to make his adopted son Eugène de Beauharnais, already prince de Venise ("prince of Venice", a newly established primogeniture in Italy) Grand Duke of Frankfurt after Dalberg's death (since the latter as a Catholic bishop didn't have legitimate heirs). The Grand Duchy remained a short episode lasting from 1810 to 1813, when military tide turned in favor of the Anglo-Prussian lead allies, which turns over the Napoleonic order of central Europe. Dalberg abdicated in favor of Eugène de Beauharnais, which of course was only a symbolic action, as the latter effectively never did rule after the ruin of the French armies and Frankfurt being taken by the allies!
After Napoleon's final defeat and abdication, the Congress of Vienna (1812-1815, redrawing the map of Europe) dissolved the grand-duchy, and Frankfurt entered the newly founded German Confederation (till 1866) as a free city, becoming the seat of its Bundestag, the confederal parliament where the nominally presiding Habsburg Emperor of Austria was represented by an Austrian "presidential envoy".
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 after Austro-Prussian War as Prussia annexed in 1866 several smaller states, among them the free 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.
After World War I Frankfurt was occupied by French troops as a means of reprisal, because the French found the German side guilty of having violated in some details the clauses of the peace treaty of Versailles concerning the demilitarisation of the Rhineland.[Quote from source requested on talk page to verify interpretation of source] 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 severely bombed in World War II. About 5,500 residents were killed during the raids, and the once famous medieval city centre, by that time the largest in Germany, was destroyed. 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 were reconstructed.
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 centre 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.
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.
The name of the town hall means "Roman". In fact, nine houses 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.
Saint Paul's Church
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 to 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.
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 it 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, while 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").
The Oper Frankfurt is the leading opera company of Germany and one of the most important opera houses in the world.
Frankfurt is unique for its skyscrapers, and it is one of only a few European cities 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 number of skyscrapers.