|The fifth biggest city
in Germany, Frankfurt on Main (Frankfurt
am Main) has gained enormous economic power, both within
Germany and abroad, thanks to its position as a key transport hub
and its status as a major venue for international trade fairs and
business events. Situated in the middle of the highly productive
Rhine-Main region in Germany, right at the centre
of Europe, the city is the financial heart not only of Germany but
also of the European Union, pumping Euros into
the world economy.
A settlement since at least 3000BC, Frankfurt’s long and successful
history of commerce stemmed initially from its central geographical
location on the Main River but also from the Frankfurt
Messe (fair). The Messe has been going since the 12th century,
it is mentioned in a Jewish manuscript dating from 1160, and the
city received its official Imperial privilege to hold an annual
trade fair in 1240. The city got its current name around AD500,
when the Franks ruled the area and the settlement along the Main
Fort transportation route became known as Franconovurd.
Frankfurt’s substantial political and cultural prestige is
based on a fortunate history of decisive events. In 855, it became
the election city for future monarchs. From 1562, the coronations
of German emperors were held in the city’s Cathedral of St
The Frankfurt Börse (Stock Exchange) began
trading in 1585, moving to Börsenplatz, its current home, in
1879. In 1815, Frankfurt was declared a free city and part of the
German Union, with the Budestag, the Union’s highest committee,
located here. Frankfurt University, which took
the name of the city’s most famous son, Johann Wolfgang Goethe,
in 1932, opened in 1914, just before the war that would forever
change the face of Germany and indeed all of Europe.
If Frankfurt’s political aspirations were dashed by the choice
of Bonn as capital of the Federal Republic in 1949, the city has
directed its post-war energies all the more wholeheartedly into
its uncontested financial role. The modern skyscrapers of banks
and corporations in the central business district are potent symbols
of Frankfurt’s economic strength and create a skyline that
is more North American than European. Bankfurt
or Mainhatten is home to some of the tallest buildings
in Europe, including the 300m (984ft) Commerzbank tower,
the tallest office block in Europe. These modern behemoths have
replaced parts of the old city that were destroyed by Allied bombers
at the end of World War II. However, examples of pre-war Frankfurt
can still be experienced in the reconstructed buildings on the Römerberg,
including the cathedral and the Römer, Frankfurt’s city
hall since 1405.
Trade has given the city a cosmopolitan, multicultural flair, 45
per cent of the 2.35 million annual visitors to Frankfurt are foreign
and 27.6 per cent of the 650,000-strong population are non-German,
representing some 169 countries and a variety of religions. Until
the Holocaust in the Nazi era, a large and dynamic Jewish community
contributed to the city’s success.
With the second busiest airport in Europe, after London Heathrow,
and a vital junction on the national road and rail network, Frankfurt
is a focal point of international transportation and communication.
Not only is the city home to the European Central Bank
and many other banks but it also commands 6500 industry-related
companies and oversees a burgeoning biotechnology industry, as home
to the world’s largest chemistry technology trade fair, ACHEMA.
The city also accommodates the moguls of the German publishing industry,
as well as a number of companies involved in public relations, marketing,
media and telecommunications. As Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
commented in 1843, here, you see and hear what is going
on in the world.
Most of Frankfurt’s visitors come for one of the numerous
trade fairs, exhibitions and congresses. Among the largest on the
international circuit are the International Book Fair (Buchmesse
Frankfurt) and ACHEMA (chemical engineering,
environmental protection and biotechnology). But Frankfurt, has
got another side to reveal to its focused business visitors. As
the birthplace of Germany’s most revered writer, Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), the city is at pains to
impress with its cultural pedigree. Excellent museums, high-calibre
performance groups and local festivals should entice the discerning
guest away from the boardroom and the exhibition hall.
The city’s climate is generally mild and well balanced with
warm, occasionally wet, days during summer, when temperatures sometimes
reach 30°C (90°F), and chilly winter days, when temperatures
range between - 10°C (14°F) and 10°C (40°F).