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River Main

The Main is a tributary of the Rhine, and a beautiful waterway in its own right. Running just over 320 miles through Germany, the river passes through some of the most beautiful sights in the country, including verdant fields, beautiful castles, and buzzing towns and cities.

The Main boasts of some stunning sights along the river, including the UNESCO listed Bamberg. To walk around this town is almost like being transported into a fairy tale, with  gorgeous wood framed houses, a 13th century Cathedral, and the Altenburg - a beautiful castle that overlooks the town. Along the river is the ineffably elegant Würzburg, which features another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Würzburg Residence, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture that was built for the Prince-Bishops of Würzburg in the 18th century.

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Countries on the Main

The only country on the Main is Germany, as the Main River is actually a tributary of the mighty Rhine, but along the way, the river goes through some truly incredible parts of Germany. Flowing through the historic states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the river flows past some incredible verdant forests, hills, and the fairy tale villages that are so rife in this area of Germany.

Starting near the Eastern boarder of Germany, near Kulmbach (a town famous for its sausages) the Main is actually the confluence of two steams - the Red Main, named thus because of the large amounts of clay deposits in the water causing its colour to be a reddish-brown, and the White Main, coloured white by the granite it flows over.

On its journey to join the Rhine River, it also flirts with the mighty Danube, and passes through a grand total of 34 dams, with the oldest dam being built in Kostheim in 1886 (and maintained in 934).

Highlights of the Main

One of the best sights on the river is the city of Frankfurt am Main (known more commonly as Frankfurt). This lovely city is famed for being full of culture and life, and there are some truly beautiful sights to be seen. Towards the centre, it is a veritable metropolis of ultra-modernity, with glass and metal skyscrapers standing out above the city. As you move further out, however, you can find a myriad of stunning old buildings.

One of the loveliest buildings in Frankfurt, and an absolute gem of German architecture, is the Römer, meaning "Roman". It is a medieval buildings right in the Altstadt of the city, and has served as the Rathaus of Frankfurt for the past 600 years. Some of the rooms in the building have remained unchanged throughout that time, including the stunning Römerhalle and Schwanenhalle, and even though Frankfurt was the target for many bombs during World War II, it managed to stay unscathed.

One building in Frankfurt that didn't escape decimation, however, was the elegant Alte Oper - the bombs left it as a literal shell of its former glory. However, it was lovingly restored during the 1950s, and now plays host to numerous performances every year. Those with a more natural bent can also find joy in Frankfurt - with the beautiful botanical gardens of Palmarten and Frankfurt Botanical Garden displaying a myriad of greenery all year round.

Offenbach am Main is also definitely worth a visit. This beautiful city is a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities, and boasts of a long and ancient history, beginning in 770. Because of extreme bombing by the Allies in World War II, not many of the old buildings survived the war, and as such it doesn't have an Old Town, however some old buildings survived, including the Isenburger Schloss, built in 1576. This beautiful re-bricked building is typical of German architecture of the Renaissance era, with a large bulky façade punctuated with turrets and arches. Currently, it is used as part of Hochschule für Gestaltung, an art college in Offenbach am Main.

Helpful Hints

The currency used in Germany is the Euro, which is symbolised as €.

The climate along the river is temperate, with four distinct seasons. The summers are warm and the winters can be quite cold - so it's best to look at what season you're going in before you pack so you can decide what clothes to bring.

The language of Germany is German, and it might be a good idea to have some useful words and phrases on hand whilst in the country. A few of them might be "hallo", meaning "hello", "ich heisse" (ik hi-sah), meaning "my name is", "wo ist" (voh ist), meaning "where is", "bitte" (bitter), which means "please", "danke" (danker) which means "thank you", and, for all the delicious German beer on offer, "Prost" (prosht) - "Cheers"!

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