The sprawling city of Frankfurt, on the River Main, is celebrated more by businesspeople than traditional tourists, but the city offers many pleasures as well as opportunities for those doing business. Regardless of purpose, huge numbers arrive annually at Frankfurt's showpiece airport. The city is a major transport hub and an industrial and financial powerhouse not only in Germany, but the whole of central Europe. Frankfurt is home to Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, and Europe's most important stock exchange, which has been trading since 1585.
Frankfurt © Roland Meinecke
For tourists Frankfurt does offer many intriguing sights, some great restaurants, a variety of artistic and cultural events, and excellent shopping opportunities, not to mention an energetic clubbing scene. Sightseeing attractions are mostly confined to the historical core of the city, known as the Romerberg, where Charlemagne erected his fort in medieval times. Most of the original buildings were destroyed during World War II, but some have been reconstructed, including the home of Goethe, Frankfurt's most famous son who became Germany's greatest writer. For shopping it is hard to beat the Zeil, Germany's equivalent of New York's Fifth Avenue.
With its excellent rail connections and autobahn system, Frankfurt is the natural hub for travellers wishing to explore the surrounding towns and countryside. It is also the venue for numerous trade fairs, exhibitions and congresses, drawing about 12 million visitors a year with these events. The largest and best known is the annual International Book Fair, which is attended by thousands of publishers, writers and avid readers.