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Frankfurt, Germany is situated on the Main river and is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany.

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

Frankfurt, Germany

Throughout its history, Frankfurt am Main (pronounced Mine) has been linked to international trade, commerce and transportation. Today, the city is playing a leading role in the European monetary union as the home of the European Central Bank and the German Stock Exchange.

It is also a major transportation hub, the site of both Europe’s second-largest airport and one of its busiest train stations.

Only a small section of the original town center survived the bombings of World War II, and much of the city was rebuilt in the 1950s. Today, Frankfurt's optimistic outlook reflects its rebirth.

Every day, the population of 650,000 grows by almost one-half, as 300,000 commuters arrive to work in the gleaming financial district or to attend one of its world-famous trade fairs. Additionally, tourists come to visit and to enjoy Frankfurt's fine opera, ballet, and world-class museums. Visitors are often amazed by Frankfurt’s multicultural variety and by the beauty of its suburbs and surrounding countryside.

The historic center of the city is Romerberg, a square just two blocks north of the Main. The old town's walls were torn down and the moats filled in, but a green belt of parks loops around the old city in their place. Several guardhouses still stand as landmarks. Northeast of Romerberg is the Konstablerwache, which has U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations. Northwest of Romerberg is the Hauptwache, now the site of a cafe and also an important transportation hub. To the east of the Hauptwache is the Zeil, Frankfurt's busiest shopping street, and to the west is Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse, known locally as the Fressgasse (or "chow-down alley") for its food markets and eating establishments. To the south of the Romerberg is an old iron footbridge, the Eiserner Steg, which crosses the Main into Sachsenhausen. In Sachsenhausen, you'll find interesting pubs and traditional taverns, as well as the Museumsufer (museums along the southern embankment).

On the northern side of the river—west of Romerberg—is the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Just a few blocks northwest of the station is the Festhalle, the main gateway to the giant fairground known as Messe Frankfurt.

Frankfurt's skyline is one of a kind in Germany, and from it the city gets the nickname "Mainhattan." The need to rebuild after World War II led to the present-day mix of 18th-century buildings, modern and postmodern skyscrapers, functional office blocks and museums.

Being such a commerce-minded city, and a major transportation hub, has made Frankfurt the trade show and convention epicenter of Europe since the 13th century. Trade fairs continue to be big business for the city, and if you visit in spring or fall you may be fortunate enough to join the throngs of visitors on hand for the event.

Many of the main sightseeing attractions are located within easy walking distance of one another. In fact, the city center can be crossed on foot in less than 30 minutes. The best place to start is north of the Main River at Romerberg, the main square and historical center of the city. There you will find beautiful half-timbered houses and the Romer (City Hall), with its impressive banquet hall. Not far from the square is the Kaiserdom, the towering cathedral where ten German emperors and kings were crowned, and Paulskirche, where the first National Assembly of Germany met in 1848.

Nearly 40 museums make up Frankfurt's cultural landscape. Most of these museums are located near Romerberg or are lined up along the southern embankment, called Museumsufer. The city has invested more than 200 million euros in this museum landscape since the 1980s, and the result is striking! Paintings by Old Masters and more recent European artists can be seen at the Stadel Institute. Modern and contemporary art is shown in the Museum fur Moderne Kunst and the Schirn Kunsthalle. For a look at Frankfurt's history, visit the Historisches Museum, Goethehaus or the Judisches Museum. If you're interested in tropical and subtropical plants, the Palmengarten is unforgettable.

Another pleasant way to see Frankfurt is to take a cruise along the Main River (a tributary of the Rhine). Day cruises to nearby riverside towns are also a traditional way to explore the surrounding areas.

Two venues are at the heart of Frankfurt's performing-arts scene. The Alte Oper, the city's beautiful concert hall, hosts world-class symphonies and companies on tour. Stadtische Buhnen is the showcase for local companies, including the city's opera, ballet and theater troupes. Not to be missed is the Tigerpalast, a variety show with acrobats, magicians and sometimes tigers. Most theaters, including those hosting ballet and opera, are closed in July and August.

You won't have to go far to find traditional German cuisine in Frankfurt. The city is known for such regional specialties as grune sosse (green sauce: a rich cream or mayonnaise base with herbs, including cress, chives, sorrel and parsley) and rippchen mit kraut (pork chop and sauerkraut). Another local dish to try is handkas mit musik, a form of curd cheese served with raw onions, oil and vinegar and almost always eaten with bread and butter (it's too strong for some tastes). The classic Frankfurt drink is apfelwein (known in the local dialect as ebbelwoi), an apple wine served in a decorative clay pitcher, called a bembel.

The Zeil pedestrian zone, which stretches east from the Hauptwache to the Konstablerwache is teh premier shopping zone. East of the Konstablerwache, the shopping becomes more economical, with many low-price, no-frills stores. For upscale stores, check the side streets and alleys leading away from the Zeil, as well as around the Hauptwache and near Fressgasse.

Goethestrasse is the place for designer clothes and internationally recognizable shops. Interesting jewelry shops are lined up along Rossmarkt, south of the Hauptwache. There is a Saturday flea market along the Main River.

More than just a hub for transport and commerce, Frankfurt is also known as the "City of Festivals." Notable among these are the Book Fair, Christmas markets and the spring and fall Dippemess. Concerts, both classical and pop, take place regularly at the Alte Oper Frankfurt. Pop stars often perform at the Festhalle.
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