Between Maindreieck and Mainviereck
Again and again, the term “Mainfranken” emerges in the area but also outside of Franconia. Mainfranken is not a political entity, no administrative space. It is not even clear where this natural-cultural-cultural area is beginning and ending. But nevertheless, for most Germans “Mainfranken” is a well-known term.
Where exactly is Mainfranken located?
The core of this special region lies in the Maindreieck with its upper center Würzburg, as well as the Mainviereck with Aschaffenburg – the gateway to the Spessart. But what is the Maindreieck? That term describes the triangle the river forms here. The term Mainviereck correspondingly derives from the square the river Main forms in the west.
In terms of geography, therefore, Mainfranken is not infrequently equated with Unterfranken (Lower Franconia) as one of the governmental districts of Bavaria. The political-administrative neighbors are Thuringia in the north, Upper and Central Franconia in the east and Hessen and Baden-Württemberg in the west.
Origin of the term
Today’s Franconia is the rest of a once-encompassing territory. In the early Middle Ages it has been divided into an eastern (to which Lower Franconia belongs) and a western empire. Throughout the centuries those empires again have risen in smaller territories.
The Franks, once so powerful and thus too powerful in the eyes of many others, were more and more integrated into other political structures where and whenever possible. Thus also a part of the eastern franconian empire, which now is a part of Bavaria.
Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia are the legacy of a force that once dominated Europe and gave it its face in many parts. Therefore the Franks are also called “Europe’s pioneer”.
However, the terms Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia are rooted in the relative position to the river Main, the region’s liveline. Lower Franconia lies on the lower stretch of the Main, Upper Franconia on the upper stretch and Middle Fanconia in between. The fact that the term Mainfranken has been established in particular underlines the outstanding importance of this part of Franconia.
In spite of the once so powerful Franks, there is no more “Franconia” anymore (in the meaning of a souvereign state). This is due to the fact that tradition and in particular inheritance law of the late Franconian emperors and kings prevented the development of a uniformly managed, Franconian entity in Central Europe.
As it is difficult to grasp the area of Mainfranken, the Franconian culture does not stop at the boundaries to its neighbours, too. Dialect, way of life, sacred culture – a lot of blurring still exists. Franconian tradition or dialect is found in the neighboring states of Hesse, Baden-Wurttemberg and Thuringia.
However, one constant exists in Mainfranken: the river as a name generator. The Main once mainly was an axis of development with coveted agricultural land – above all the cultivation area for wine.
In addition to agricultural areas, the region also has an outstanding industrial significance. According to the statistical office of the European Union, Mainfranken now ranks among the top 10 high-tech locations in Europe.
This, on the other hand, may be a surprise when traveling through the region. Mainfranken still has a strong agricultural character. However, embedded in this traditional economic form, many important german economic players are producing here. The locations of Schweinfurt and of course Würzburg – Center and Seat of Government of Lower Franconia – are the leaders.