- For other places with the same name, see Franconia (disambiguation).
Franconia (Franken) is a region of northern Bavaria, a state of Germany, that was formerly a separate kingdom (a duchy) of the Holy Roman Empire. The history of the area stretches back over a thousand years. Franconia encompasses three administrative regions of Bavaria: Lower Franconia (Unterfranken), Middle Franconia (Mittelfranken), and Upper Franconia (Oberfranken). Culturally Franconians identify themselves as being different from Bavarians. Within Franconia are the historically important city of Nuremberg, the UNESCO World Heritage town of Bamberg, and a huge range of outdoor activities in the Franconian Switzerland and Franconian lake district.
- Upper Franconia - hilly region in north east, land of breweries
- Middle Franconia - round Nuremberg
- Lower Franconia - vineyards near river Main
- Bayreuth - is famous as the host of the Richard Wagner Festival, furthermore the Markgräfliches Opernhaus is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
- Bamberg - the whole old town of Bamberg is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
- Coburg - it has been the household name for some royal dynasties in Europe
- Erlangen — a university and medical centre city that has earned the nickname Franconian Berkeley
- Fürth – medium-sized town, next to Nuremberg in the north
- Nuremberg (Nürnberg) — a city of toys, famous for Christmas markets, the infamous Nazi Party rallies held there and the Nuremberg Trials against the main Nazi war criminals
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber — famous for its intact medieval city center (Altstadt) encircled by 13th century town walls
- Fichtelgebirge — is arranged like a horseshoe around an inner hill-landscape; the highest mountain is the "Schneeberg (Snow Mountain)" with 1053 m above sealevel
- Franconian Switzerland (Fränkische Schweiz) — castle ruins, hiking, canoeing, climbing
- Franconian Lake District (Fränkisches Seenland) — the Lake District comprises of 7 lakes; The total expanse of water is about 20 square km
- Franconian Wineland (Fränkisches Weinland) — wine tasting, hiking, biking, and more
Franconia used tp be comprised of many independent principalities and petty dukedoms and knighthoods until it became part of Bavaria around 1806 as a result of the Napoleonic wars. This has two main consequences: first, the dialect and religious composition of two neighboring villages may be notably different (which used to cause tensions but is now of mostly folkloric interest); second, there is still some resentment towards Bavaria and many people do not like to be lumped together with their "colonizers" down south. While you will not encounter open hostility, try to avoid calling Franconians Bavarian.
The local dialect ("Fränkisch") can sometimes be a bit hard for those familiar with standard German to understand, although it is not as different as Bavarian. People have a tendency to pronounce t like d, p like b and sometimes k like g. This is also often noticeable when they speak foreign languages. English prevalence is around the (West)German average with highs in the big cities and university towns like Erlangen. Other foreign languages include French (the most common living second foreign language in high school) and to a lesser degree Italian and Spanish.
Nürnberg Bamberg and Würzburg all have frequent ICE service from most routes in Germany. The Nürnberg-Munich railway is in excellent condition and one of the fastest in the country (even regional trains reach top speeds around 200 km/h without costing extra). The connection to Berlin via Leipzig/Halle and Erfurt is being refurbished right now and scheduled to be fully operational around 2015. Erlangen also has some ICE service which often also stops in Nürnberg. The infrequent ICE service to Bayreuth has been stopped. From Dresden there is regional service to Hof with connecting services (scheduled to wait at the same platform to make changing trains easy) to Nuremberg. As this is regional travel the Ländertickets as well as the Quer durchs Land Ticket (44€ for one person 8€ mor for any additional person up to a group of five) apply.
The only relevant airport from a traveler's point of view is in Nürnberg (IATA code: NUE) with service to many destinations around Europe and continuing service via Frankfurt all around the world. While the airport is not directly connected to the railway network, the Nürnberg main station can be reached via subway (U-Bahn) in about twelve minutes.
Several bus companies operate throughout the region. They are usually slower than the train but often cheaper. An international bus operated by Deutsche Bahn also connects to Nürnberg (leaving right in front of the main station) with Prague.
By public transport
A big chunk of Franconia and also some parts of the neighboring regions are covered by the VGN tariff-union, which covers almost all trains, buses and the Nuremberg subway and tram (Straßenbahn). While single local tickets can be comparably expensive, group and day tickets can be a bargain, especially for longer distances.
- Climbing in the Franconian Switzerland, along with the Saxonian Switzerland it is one of Germany's top destinations for mountain climbing with many famosu climber either coming from here or having their "training-grounds" here
Schäufele is a traditional dish in Franconia. It is made from the pork's shoulder meat. Normally it is then served with potato dumbling (Kartoffelklöße), sauerkraut (or red cabbage, or savoy cabbage) and gravy.
Bratwurst most notably the small Nuremberg variety commonly served as drei im Weggla (three Bratwursts in a samall bread roll) or sechs auf Graud (six Bratwursts with Sauerkraut and a slice of bread) and the various "Franconian" varieties that are usually bigger. Traditionally almost every city had its own slight variation on the basic recipe or how to prepare them, and Coburg is notable for roasting them on an open fire with conifer cones added to the fire for taste.
Franconia is world renowned for beer and is actually the region with the highest brewery density in the world. Many small breweries, especially in Oberfranken only produce small amounts for consumption in their attached brewery-restaurants. Even small rural villages often still have their own breweries, although the declining demand and increased competion with bigger brands and their marketing budgets have taken their toll especially in the 70s and 80s. There is a slight resurgence with some craft-beer like star-ups reviving names and traditons of long gone brands as well as starting anew from scratch.
Many Franconians like to point out that there is Bierfranken (beer-franconia, especially Oberfranken and big parts of Mittelfranken) and Weinfranken (mostly Unterfranken and the area close to the Main river) while it is a comparatively smart region the wine of this region can certainly compete with most other German wines and the famous Bocksbeutel (a special form of bottle, that looks like a goats... bag, hence the name) is an excelent souvenir.
Less of a souvenir is Federweißer , wine in various states of fermentation that is available only seasonally. Shortly after harvest it is very similar in taste and alcohol content to simple grape juice but the older it gets, the more alcohol it will contain. Be careful when storing the bottles as they are more or less open and will leak when not put with the tap facing upwards.
Apart from some neighborhoods of Nuremberg that deal with the common big-city issues of all German towns that size, Franconia should not concern you security-wise.
When climbing in Franconian Switzerland make sure that your equipment is in a good state and of good quality and make sure you or your guides now what you are doing as accidents happen from time to time.
- Bavaria proper, locally known as Altbayern
- Saxony either with the ICE to Leipzig or with regional transport from Hof to Dresden
- The Czech republic
- Baden Württemberg