Franconia

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 duchy of the Holy Roman Empire. The history of the area as a separate entity 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.

Regions

Regional Map of Franconia, administratively part of the state of Bavaria, Germany

Cities

Other destinations

Understand

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. Many people also include part(s) of adjacent Länder in Franconia as they are linguistically, culturally and historically more connected to Franconia than to the Länder to which they belong in terms of administration. Those regions include: Sonneberg and Thüringen south of the Rennsteig (in fact Sonneberg voted to join the Nuremberg Metropolregion and there are talks of switching Bundesland) and the region of Baden-Württemberg called Heilbronn-Franken. On the other hand places like Aschaffenburg are linguistically close to neighboring regions.

Talk

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. Immigrant languages such as Turkish and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian can be found in some parts of the bigger cities, particularly Nuremberg.

Get in

By train

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 at higher speeds in December 2017. 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€ more for any additional person up to a group of five) apply.

By air

The only relevant airport within this region from a traveler's point of view is in Nürnberg (IATA: 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.

From Frankfurt airport (IATA: FRA) there are direct ICE connections via Würzburg (1:25 hours, rates starting at 29€ one way) or Nuremberg (2:25 hours) with connecting services to all places in Franconia.

You might also consider flying into Munich airport (IATA: MUC) and take either regional trains or the ICE to Nuremberg. Unfortunately the Munich airport is far away from town and you will have to first get into Munich (roughly half an hour to forty minutes travel time) before you can change onto a train to Nuremberg, unless you go by car or bus.

While Prague airport (IATA: PRG) is geographically close the worse than average train connection (the bus is actually faster when going to Nuremberg) make this not the best option for most travellers.

By bus

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 Nürnberg (leaving right in front of the main station) with Prague. For domestic buses within Germany see long distance bus travel in Germany

Get around

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.

See

Itineraries

Do

Eat

Schäufele with potato dumbling

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 small 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.

While Blaue Zipfel could be described as just another way to cook Bratwurst it is notably different in taste, as the sausages are cooked in an acidic liquid rather than fried.

Karpfen or carp is produced mainly around Höchstadt (Aisch) and several villages in that region have a carp in their coat of arms due to its historic (and continuing) importance as a foodstock and export-article. It is commonly eaten in the months "with r" (literally speaking that would be September-April) either blau (blue, that is cooked) or gebacken (that is fried, thus making even part of the fins edible) Legend has it that the Franconian carps owe their peculiar round shape to a medieval decree deeming anything "beyond the plate" to be the bishop's property, thus prompting medieval monks (than the principal producers and consumers of the fish) to breed for rounder carps. Make of that what you want.

Lebkuchen Nuremberg is justifiedly famous for its gingerbread-like sweet Lebkuchen and in fact the "echt Nürnberg Elisen-Lebkuchen" are a geographically protected specialty that may only be produced in or close to Nuremberg under a special recipe. They are traditionally eaten around Christmas, but nowadays can be found by mid-September and don't be surprised to find specialized stores in Nuremberg, selling them year-round. Many ice-cream parlors sell Lebkuchen instead during the winter "off-season".

Spargel (asparagus) is harvested from mid-April (depending on weather) until (traditionally) June 24th. It is commonly eaten white with sauce Hollandaise and ham, but there are variations and green asparagus, that used to be almost unheard of is gaining popularity. During the Spargel-season almost every self-respecting restaurant has at least one Spargel dish on offer and the devotion with which Spargel is consumed if not to say venerated might seem quasi-religious to outsiders.

Drink

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 competition 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 start-ups reviving names and traditions 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 small region in terms of area the wine of Franconia 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 excellent 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.

Stay safe

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 know what you are doing as accidents happen from time to time.

As everywhere soccer games can get a little out of hand and fans may become hostile when drunk or after a lost game. This is especially true for the Derby (local parlance for a rivalry game between close geographic neighbors) between Nuremberg and Fürth. Of course 99% of Fans are peaceful and only want to support their team, but there are always exceptions.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, December 24, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.