Germany’s economic and financial capital Frankfurt-am-Main is famous for its soaring, steel skyscrapers and sprawling airport, but there’s more to the city than ‘Mainhatten’. Don’t believe us? From Germany’s largest urban forest to the original hot dog, here are a few interesting facts about Frankfurt that might surprise you.
Interesting facts about Frankfurt
1. Frankfurt has a suffix ‘am Main’ for a reason
There are actually two Frankfurts in Germany: Frankfurt am Main and Frankfurt an der Oder. The Main and the Oder refer to the rivers that surround each of the cities.
Frankfurt dates back to 794 AD where it is recorded as ‘Frankonovurd’. It transformed to ‘Frankenfort’ during the Middle Ages and then to ‘Franckfort’ and ‘Franckfurth’ more recently. People have used the suffix ‘am Main’ since the 14th century. While in English most people refer to it as Frankfurt, many Germans still use its full name to distinguish it from the other much smaller city in Brandenburg.
2. Frankfurt’s population has one of the highest quality of life in the world
According to numerous studies, people living in Frankfurt enjoy some of the highest quality of life in the world. For starters, employees have an enviable work-life balance with an average working week of 25 hours and a happiness level of 7.3 out of 10. Excellent healthcare and public safety help too. According to the Mercer Quality of Life Survey, Frankfurt ranks in the top 10 best places to live in the world, rating highly for congestion, airport effectiveness and transportation.
3. Frankfurt boasts the largest inner-city forest in Germany
Stadtwald Frankfurt (Frankfurt city forest) is the largest city forest in the country, making Frankfurt one of Germany’s most wooded urban areas. The 5,000-hectare forest was once part of the vast Imperial Forest until the city purchased the woods from Kaiser Karl IV in 1372. It’s now one of the city’s most beloved assets, popular with runners, walkers and cyclists making use of the impressive 450-km network of trails.
4. Frankfurt is home to the world’s largest book fair
The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest trade fair for books. Widely considered to be the most important book fair in the world for deals and trading, it’s the largest fair based on both the number of visitors and the number of publishing companies represented. The five-day event takes place in mid-October at the Frankfurt Trade Fair. The public can usually attend the final two days of the fair at the weekend. Thousands of exhibitors attend from across the world to negotiate publishing rights, license fees and deals. On average, nearly 300,000 people take part every year and more than 7,300 exhibitors attend.
5. Most of Germany’s skyscrapers are in Frankfurt
Out of Germany’s 18 skyscrapers, 17 of them are located in Frankfurt. Unlike most European cities, skyscrapers (buildings over 150 metres or 492 ft tall) aren’t common in Germany. Traditionally steeples are the tallest structures in German cities. As the country’s financial centre, Frankfurt is the exception. The Commerzbank Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Frankfurt, standing at 260 metres high.
6. Frankfurt boasts one of the largest stock exchanges in the world
The Frankfurt Stock Exchange is the 12th largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization. It’s owned and operated by Deutsche Börse AG and Börse Frankfurt Zertifikate AG, in the district of Innenstadt. Around 90% of its turnover is generated in Germany, mostly at Xetra and Börse Frankfurt.
7. Frankfurters – the original Hot Dog – were (probably) invented in Frankfurt
It’s a hotly contested topic but evidence suggests that Frankfurters were, in fact, invented in Frankfurt. Also known as the Wiener or Hot Dog, a Frankfurter is a highly seasoned pork and beef sausage. Frankfurt claims the frankfurter was invented there over 500 years ago, in 1484, eight years before Columbus set sail for America. Others say that a man called Johann Georghehner, a butcher living in Coburg, invented the snack in the 17th century. According to this school of thought, he travelled to Frankfurt to promote his new product, where it caught on.
What we do know is that they appeared in the United States in the early 19th century and quickly became a national snack. The first hot dog stand opened at Coney Island in New York in 1016.