Frankfurt am Main is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a population of 701,350 (2013) within its administrative boundaries. The wider urban area called Frankfurt Rhein-Main has a population of 2,221,910. The city is at the centre of the larger Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region which has a population of 5,500,000 and is Germany's second-largest metropolitan region. Since the enlargement of the European Union in 2013, the geographic centre of the EU is about east of Frankfurt.
Frankfurt is the largest financial centre in continental Europe and ranks among the world's leading financial centres. It is home to the European Central Bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange and several large commercial banks. The European Central Bank is the central bank of the eurozone, consisting of 19 EU member states that have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender. The Deutsche Bundesbank is the central bank of Germany and as such part of the European System of Central Banks. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange is one of the world's largest stock exchanges by market capitalization and accounts for over 90 percent of the turnover in the German market. In 2010, 63 national and 152 international banks had their registered offices in Frankfurt, including the headquarters of the major German banks, notably Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, DZ Bank and KfW, as well as 41 representative offices of international banks.
Frankfurt is therefore considered a global city (alpha world city) as listed by the GaWC group's 2012 inventory. Among global cities it was ranked 10th by the Global Power City Index 2011 and 11th by the Global City Competitiveness Index 2012. Among financial centers it was ranked 8th by the International Financial Centers Development Index 2013 and 9th by the Global Financial Centres Index 2013.
Due to its central location within Germany and Europe, Frankfurt is a major air, rail and highway transport hub. Frankfurt Airport is one of the world's busiest international airports by passenger traffic and the main hub for Germany's flag carrier Lufthansa, the largest airline in Europe. Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe and the busiest junction operated by Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway company, with 342 daily trains to domestic and European destinations. Frankfurter Kreuz, the Autobahn interchange close to the airport, is the most heavily used interchange in the EU utilized by 320,000 cars daily.
Frankfurt is also a centre for commerce, culture, education, tourism and web traffic. Messe Frankfurt is one of the world's largest trade fairs at 578,000 square metres and ten exhibition halls, a central logistics centre and an attached convention centre. Major trade fairs include the Frankfurt Motor Show, the world's largest motor show, and the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest book fair. Frankfurt is also home to many cultural and educational institutions including the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University and Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, many museums (e.g. Städel, Naturmuseum Senckenberg, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Goethe House), and two major botanical gardens, the Palmengarten, which is Germany's largest, and the Botanical Garden of the Goethe University.
In 2011, the human-resource-consulting firm Mercer ranked Frankfurt as seventh in its annual "Quality of Living" survey of cities around the world. According to The Economist cost of living survey, Frankfurt is Germany's most expensive city, and the 10th most expensive in the world.
A unique feature of Frankfurt is its significant number of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in the city center which form the Frankfurt skyline. Frankfurt is one of only a few cities in the European Union that have such a skyline. Because of the city's skyline, Germans sometimes refer to Frankfurt as "Mainhattan", a portmanteau of the local Main River and Manhattan. Before the devastation in World War 2, the city was also globally noted for its unique old town with timberframe buildings. The Römer area was later rebuilt and is popular with visitors and for events such as christmas markets, other parts of the old town are reconstructed at the Dom-Römer Project until 2016.
In the area of the Römer, Roman settlements were established, probably in the 1st century; some artifacts from that era are found even 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.
The name of Frankfurt on Main is derived from the Franconofurd of the Germanic tribe of the Franks; Furt (cf. English ford) where the river was shallow enough to be crossed by wading. Alemanni and Franks lived there and by 794 Charlemagne presided over an imperial assembly and church synod, at which Franconofurd (-furt -vurd) was first mentioned.
Frankfurt was one of the most important cities in the following Holy Roman Empire. From 855 the German kings and emperors were elected in Frankfurt and crowned in Aachen. From 1562 the kings and emperors were also crowned in Frankfurt, Maximilian II being the first. This tradition ended in 1792, when Franz II was elected. His coronation was deliberately held 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 (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. The fair became particularly important when similar fairs in French Beaucaire lost attraction around 1380. Book trade fairs have been held in Frankfurt since 1478.
In 1585 Frankfurt traders established a system of exchange rates for the various currencies that were circulating in the city to prevent cheating and extortion. Thus lay the early roots for the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
Frankfurt managed to remain neutral during the Thirty Years' War, but 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 bombarded several times by French troops. It nevertheless still remained 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), Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg. 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 had no legitimate heirs). The Grand Duchy remained a short episode lasting from 1810 to 1813, when the military tide turned in favour of the Anglo-Prussian lead allies, which overturned the Napoleonic order of central Europe. Dalberg abdicated in favour 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 (1814–1815, 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 the seat of the first democratically elected German parliament, the Frankfurt Parliament, which met in the Frankfurter Paulskirche (St. Paul's Church) 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 the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 when Prussia annexed 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 named Goethe University Frankfurt. This marked the only civic foundation of a university in Germany; today it is one of Germany's largest universities.
From 6 April to 17 May 1920, following military intervention to put down the Ruhr Uprising, Frankfurt was occupied by French troops. The French claimed that Articles 42 to 44 of the peace treaty of Versailles concerning the demilitarisation of the Rhineland had been broken. 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.
Frankfurt was severely bombed in World War II (1939–1945). About 5,500 residents were killed during the raids, and the once famous medieval city centre, by that time the largest in Germany, was almost completely destroyed. It became a ground battlefield commencing 26 March 1945, when the Allied advance into Germany was forced to take the city in contested urban combat that included a river assault. The 5th Infantry Division and the 6th Armored Division of the United States Army captured Frankfurt after several days of intense fighting, and it was declared largely secure on 29 March 1945. More details of this battle are provided at History of Frankfurt am Main.
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. The city was part of the American Zone of Occupation of Germany. The Military Governor for the United States Zone (1945–1949) and the United States High Commissioner for Germany (HICOG) (1949–1952) had their headquarters in the IG Farben Building, intentionally left undamaged by the Allies' wartime bombardment.
Frankfurt was the original choice for the provisional capital city of the newly founded state of West Germany in 1949. The city even went as far as constructing a new parliament building that has never been used for its intended purpose (it was then used to house the radio studios of Hessischer Rundfunk). In the end, Konrad Adenauer, the first post-war Chancellor, preferred the town of Bonn in North Rhine-Westphalia, 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 a reunification with East Germany and the eventual return of the Government to Berlin.
Post-war reconstruction took place in a sometimes simple modern style, thus changing the architectural face of Frankfurt. Only very few landmark buildings have been reconstructed historically, albeit in a simplified manner (e.g. Römer, St. Paul's Church, Goethe House). The collection of historically significant Cairo Genizah documents of the Municipal Library was destroyed when the city was bombed. According to Arabist and Genizah scholar S.D. Goitein, "not even handlists indicating its contents have survived."
The end of the war marked Frankfurt's comeback as Germany's leading financial centre, mainly because Berlin, now a city divided into four sectors, could no longer act as a rival. In 1948 the allies founded the Bank deutscher Länder, the forerunner of Deutsche Bundesbank, in Frankfurt. Following this decision more financial institutions were re-established in Frankfurt, e.g. Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank. In the 1950s, Frankfurt Stock Exchange regained once again its position as the leading stock exchange in Germany.
During the 1970s, the city created one of Europe's most efficient underground transportation systems. That system includes a suburban rail system (S-Bahn) linking outlying communities with the city centre, and a deep underground light rail system with smaller coaches (U-Bahn) also capable of travelling above ground on street rails.
In 1998, the European Central Bank was founded in Frankfurt, followed by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and European Systemic Risk Board in 2011.