Saturday, August 08, 2009

May 10th, 2009 - Frankfurt am Main

We strayed away from the River Rhine briefly, heading east along one of its tributaries, the River Main, to Frankfurt am Main, the fifth-largest city in Germany. The city population is around 670,000 with the urban area coming in around 2-1/4 million. The river Main is shallow enough to ford in places and, since the Franks were early inhabitants of the town, the community became known as Franks furt (ford) and the rest is history. See Backstory.
Frankfurt is both the financial and transportation hub of Germany, the largest financial center in continental Europe, the seat of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It is also one of just three cities in the entire EU with a significant number of skyscrapers (> than 500 fe
et high),being equal second with London at 10, and second only to Paris with 14. Frankfurt also has the highest concentration of lawyers in Germany, with one lawyer per 99 inhabitants, the Frankfurt International Airport is the single largest place of employment in the whole of Germany. The Zeil, a pedestrian only street, is Frankfurt's main shopping street and one of the most crowded in Germany. For fifty years following WWII the American Forces Network broadcast from Frankfurt, before being moved to Mannheim in 2004.
Sadly, WWII destroyed most of what had been, the largest medieval center in Europe, in addition to killing more than 5000 residents. See Slideshow. In general, post-war construction paid scant attention to restoration and much of the rich history has been lost forever.
The Go
thic Dom Sankt Bartholomäus - Saint Bartholomeus' Cathedral - was built during the 14th and 15th centuries where, from 1356 onwards, kings of the Holy Roman Empire were elected, and later roman-German emperors were crowned. The cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1867 and subsequently rebuilt in its present style. It too, suffered major damage during WWII. Originally formed from several of nine house purchased by the city in 1405, City Hall was partly destroyed in WWII and has since been restored. The complex includes the Kaisersaal - Emporers Hall - where freshly minted Emporers held their parties. St. Paul's Church, near the City Hall, is a revered national monument in Germany with great political symbolism. Begun in 1789, it was established as a Protestant church, although it was not completed until 1833. Its importance lies in the Frankfurt Parliament, which met in the church in 1848 to 49 during the foundling throes of the forging of Germany as we know it today. Afterwards, the building was used for church services again although it has long been deconsecrated and is now used for exhibitions and events.

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