Frankfurt am Main is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany. Throughout its history, Frankfurt 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. Almost one in three of the people living in Frankfurt do not hold a German passport.
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 is also a major transportation hub, the site of both Europe’s second-largest airport and one of its busiest train stations.
During World War II Frankfurt was heavily bombed and its medieval city centre was destroyed. The city recovered relatively quickly after the war, and its modern shape was formed. Part of the rebuilding process involved creating one of Europe’s most efficient underground transportation systems in the 1970s.
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).