In the database of the now-defunct website VirtualTourist (VT) there were four places in Germany called Frankfurt. One was a large city in Land Hessen called Frankfurt am Main, which is best known for its huge, noisy airport. Frankfurt am Main is where I live and is also the home of one of the world’s busiest and most exciting opera houses.
The second-largest place called Frankfurt was a city in Land Brandenburg on the Oder River, on the border between Germany and Poland. The other two were tiny villages in Bavaria and Sachsen-Anhalt.
When you searched for “Frankfurt” on VirtualTourist all four of these used to come up at once. At first VT had no maps, and even after maps were introduced it was difficult for some people to decide which Frankfurt they had been to. So it happened that between 2003 and 2008 twenty-three VirtualTourist members mistakenly posted pages under Frankfurt (Bavaria), when what they really meant was the city in Hessen with the big airport.
In 2011, I posted a VirtualTourist page about this Frankfurt, which is in the Steigerwald (Steiger Forest) of Franconia, in northern Bavaria. Mine was the twenty-fourth page listed under this location, but I was the first VT member who had actually been here. The other twenty-three had merely picked the wrong Frankfurt out of the list.
This Frankfurt is one of eleven villages that have been combined, for administrative purposes, into the municipality of Markt Taschendorf or rather “Markt Markt Taschendorf”, with the word Markt appearing twice. That’s why the sign in the photo reads “Frankfurt” in large letters and then “Markt Markt Taschendorf” in smaller letters. And below that in even smaller letters it says “Kreis Neustadt a.d. Aisch-Bad Windsheim”, for those who want to know which county it is in.
Just to confuse matters, one of the eleven villages of Markt Markt Taschendorf is also called Markt Markt Taschendorf and is 3 km northeast of Frankfurt. (I’ll try to explain all this in my Markt Markt Taschendorf post.)
The eleven villages of the municipality of Markt Taschendorf together had 985 inhabitants at last count (down from 1031 in the previous census). The most recent figure I have seen for Frankfurt is 140 (down from 147).
The Mayor of Markt Taschendorf (all eleven villages) is a man named Johannes Oeder, who has lived his entire life in the village of Frankfurt. In 2018, a reporter from the regional newspaper Main-Post asked him if it ever happened that people trying to get to the city of Frankfurt am Main ended up in his village instead. He said yes, that happens “every year three or four times” when people type “Frankfurt” into the navigation system in their cars, and for some reason it directs them to the village instead of the city. The strangest incident was several years ago when travelers from Dortmund turned up in the village and asked how to get to the airport. They were astounded to learn that the airport was 180 kilometers to the west and that they had driven right past it on the motorway A3 several hours before. Apparently their “blind trust in the navigation device” had led them to just follow instructions and not even notice all the airport signs and all the planes landing and taking off every 45 seconds as they drove past.
There are three roads coming in to Frankfurt, one from Lachheim to the southeast, one from Markt Taschendorf to the northeast and one from Kornhöfstadt to northwest. Where they meet, logically enough, is the middle.
I rode over on my bicycle from Markt Bibart via Scheinfeld (without a navigation device, just a map) and stayed overnight in Markt Taschendorf.
At the crossroads in the middle of Frankfurt there is a roofed-over map of the eleven villages of the municipality of Markt Taschendorf, with advertisements of some of the businesses that are located in this area.
This is the only restaurant and pension that I noticed in Frankfurt. I passed by here twice on my bicycle on two different days, but I didn’t sleep or eat here so I can’t say how it is.
On their website they say that the inn was founded in 1922 and has been run by the Schwab family ever since. They have seats for 56 people in the restaurant and in the summer 50 more out in the beer garden at the back. For overnight guests they have four double rooms and two single rooms upstairs. (No word about prices on the website, but I’m sure they are reasonable in a small place like this.)
The name “Gasthof zur frohen Einkehr” is a bit hard to translate. It means something like “Inn for Joyous Refreshments” or “Inn for Joyous Coming in”.
Like all such establishments, this inn was closed for several weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it re-opened its beer garden (outdoor seating only) on May 20, 2020.
On the outskirts of Frankfurt, on the road to Markt Taschendorf, is this mysterious bunker of the sort that used to be used for ammunition or military equipment. But this one has such a flimsy wooden door that I doubt there is anything very dangerous or valuable inside.
The one really unusual thing about Frankfurt is that just outside of town there is this “Mariengrotte” (Marian grotto), an artificial cave with an altar inside, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
On the altar is a white cloth with the words “MARIA bitte für uns”, which means “Mary, intercede for us”.
This crucifix is on a street in Frankfurt, which is evidently a Catholic village — unlike Markt Taschendorf, 3 km away, which is predominantly Protestant. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the inhabitants of a German village all tend to have the same religion, because in earlier centuries they were forced to believe whatever their local ruler believed. This rule may sound outrageous today, but it made sense at the time because it was an important component of the Peace of Augsburg that was negotiated in 1555 to reduce religious strife within the loosely-knit “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”.
As in many other German villages, the volunteer fire brigade is an important institution in Frankfurt. This building at the junction in the center of the village is where they keep their firefighting equipment, and there is also a bell on the roof to summon the volunteer firefighters in case of need. As I have explained in my Tauberrettersheim post, the volunteer fire brigade in German villages is important “not only for putting out fires but also for promoting local pride and social cohesion.”
Speaking of Tauberrettersheim, I mentioned there that lots of Germans like to put up statues of funny little dwarves a.k.a. gnomes in their gardens. And that lots of other Germans look down their noses at those who do so. This gnome in Frankfurt is pushing a wheelbarrow full of flowers — not sweeping like the one in Tauberrettersheim.
There are several small businesses in Frankfurt, the most obvious being the Fritz Bauer bus company. They have several buses which are kept in this garage in the center of the village. In addition to renting out buses for group travel, Bauer also has concessions to run several public bus lines in this region.
Frankfurt has a bus stop and is served by three different bus lines, but when you look at the symbols and the small print on the schedules it turns out that the buses run only on school days. In the school vacations there is little or no bus service. Since the nearest railroad station is ten kilometers away in Markt Bibart, people in Frankfurt are dependent on their cars or motor scooters (or trucks or tractors) for transportation. I didn’t see anybody traveling by bicycle, besides myself.
There are still a few horses in Frankfurt, but they are used solely for recreation, not for transportation or farming.
Our ancestors would not have been at all surprised to see horse manure on the road, in fact I’m sure we 21st century folks would be astounded if we could see the huge quantities of it that must have been lying around everywhere just a century or two ago. But our ancestors would be just as astounded if they could see the smooth asphalt roads that now lead in and out of even the smallest villages like this one.
Asphalt, however, is made of oil and is already getting more expensive, so in a few years or decades it might well be too expensive to build smooth roads like this all over the landscape. Back to gravel? In some places it’s already happening, but not (yet) in prosperous Germany.
These freshly cut flowers in a vase by the roadside presumably mark the spot where someone was killed by a motor vehicle.
The German government has proudly announced that “only” 3,059 people were killed by motor vehicles in the year 2019. This is 6.6 % fewer than the year before (and less than a fifth of the number killed in 1970), and is in fact the lowest number of fatalities since they started keeping records over sixty years ago. But still: 3,059 per year works out to over eight people killed every day, in Germany alone, which I personally find unacceptable.
Frankfurt doesn’t even have a shop where you can buy basic things like bread or peanut butter, but it does have several vending machines for cigarettes.
Traditionally these machines were mounted low to the ground so even the smallest child could get addicted without standing on tiptoes, but in 2007 after a bitter political struggle a new law finally went into effect, requiring buyers to insert a card proving they are at least eighteen before they are allowed to buy cigarettes.
So now the kiddies have to make do with these candy and gum machines, where they can squander their 10 and 20 cent pieces on unidentifiable sugary substances and get in the habit of indulging their addiction at a vending machine.
At the corner of a cornfield just up the hill from Frankfurt I came across this sign from the French seed company Euralis, saying that the seeds used in this field were of the type “ES Olimpus S 260 K 240”.
According to the company’s German website, this is a “high-performance type” of seed especially suited for storage in silos and for feeding to animals. They say this type of corn has a “high to very high yield potential and quality at the same time highlighted by good strength and energy levels”.
This is a fairly new type of seed which was not approved for use in Germany until 2010, but I found no mention of whether or not it was genetically altered — so I assumed it was not, since that is a big issue in this part of the world.
Location of Frankfurt on Google Maps.
My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2020.
Nearby towns in the Steiger Forest (Steigerwald):
Markt Taschendorf, 3 km northeast of Frankfurt.
Scheinfeld, 5 km southwest of Frankfurt.
Markt Bibart, 9 km southwest of Frankfurt.
12 thoughts on “Since when is Frankfurt in Bavaria?”
I’ve been to two of the Frankfurts, the one in Hessen and the one in Bavaria! There was no confusion in my mind.
Good explanation ,and yes names can be tricky. I only been to Frankfrut em Main ::) but most was passing by the airport to Darmstadt and around areas. cheers
We have similar confusion with Newport, of which there are several in England and Wales. In fact, when the Volvo Ocean Race advertised that one leg would be from Newport to Cardiff, some people thought this would be the shortest leg ever on a round the world yacht race as the country’s largest Newport is a mere 20 kms from Cardiff. They were, of course, referring to Newport, Rhode Island!
I’ve been to Frankfurt an der Oder, back in the days when Poland (which is just over the river) was about to join the EU. It was a fascinating trip.
‘Entertainment in Confusion’. Such a lovely post with interesting sub-stories of frankfurt, gnome, asphalt, fire stations… I follow an account on instagram ‘the urban gnome’ and you reminded me of that. Nice to read your article especially on an evening when Mumbai is facing a cyclone warning. As always, good and engaging writing, thanks Don.
Thanks for the nice comment. I hope the cyclone doesn’t cause too much damage.
That bunker looks like a Bierkeller to me. I saw some very cool ones this past weekend, hope to post soon.
I had similar problems on VT with villages called Ford in England. I was the only member with info about the one in Northumberland but several people had added tips to that one that were actually about the Ford in Hampshire, the opposite end of the country!
I remember you writing on VT about the ease of use of German cigarette machines so it’s good to hear that they’ve finally done something about that. Meanwhile, apart from the vending machines, this seems a pleasant sleepy village – it reminds me of small villages I have visited in Austria 🙂
There were also two places in Land Hessen called Kassel (one large, one small). And there were two towns called Lindau at opposite ends of Bavaria. Another peculiarity was that the VT database had separate listings for Munich and München, which are just the English and German names for the same city.
What a fun post! In Frankfurt/Oder möchte man nicht tot überm Zaun hängen … I did love the official road sign. It seems, the more letters, the smaller the place is … Happy travelling, evnetually 😉
The cigarette machines were one of my first impressions of Germany. And nav systems do need to be used with a bit of foreknowledge. Here, in Oregon, a Bay area family ended up in big trouble when they followed their system’s advice, proceeding up into the coastal mountains of southern Oregon during the winter. They actually opened one of the forest gates closing one road because of nav system showed them it was a shortcut. Driving further, they got stuck in the snow and the husband died of exposure trying to walk out for help.
That’s a drastic result of trusting your navi.