|Lower Franconia (Unterfranken) is divided into the nine districts shown in the right-hand map below. Towns and cities are listed by district and hotel information is accessed by clicking on the location of interest.
The middle map shows the geographic highlights of the region which are
1. The Main River
2. The Spessart Mountains
3. The Rhön Mountains
4. The Haßberge
5. The Steigerwald
6. The Franconia Wine Region
2,3,4 and 5 are known as "Mittelgebirge," i.e. mountain ranges of moderate height, generally below 1,500 feet. The most popular are the Rhön Mountains that straddle the border lines of Bavaria, Hessen and Thüringen. The Bavarian part has been set aside as the Bavarian Rhön Nature Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This landscape of largely gentle hills has great charm and is popular with tourists for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. The Rhön Hiking Club maintains a network of well-marked hiking trails. The outstanding trail is the
Rhön-Höhen-Weg which is 80 miles long.
The high point is Kreuzberg, known as the "sacred mountain of the Franconians," a three thousand foot peak near Bischofsheim an der Rhön. It is a major tourist attraction, partly because of the local monastery, originally built in the 17th century, famous for its beer production. The Kreuzberg ski area is served by three skilifts.
Bischofsheim is in the Rhön-Grabfeld District. Bad Brückenau, a spa in the neighboring Bad Kissingen District, has been called the gateway to the Rhön. Its healing qualities were originally promoted by King Ludwig I of Bavaria. The jewel of the same district is its capital, Bad Kissingen, a popular resort with a glorious past as a favorite spa of royalty and VIPs.
The Franconia Wine Region, famous for its quality wines, has three sectors: Mainviereck (Main square), Maindreieck (Main triangle) and Steigerwald. The square and triangle designations refer to the shape of the bends of the river where the sectors are located. Thus Maindreieck is the middle sector in the V bend of the river between Würzburg and Schweinfurt.
Aschaffenburg on the river Main is a city of 70,000 and considered the gateway to the Spessart mountains. It has a cosmopolitan ambiance and is only a half hour away from Frankfurt irport. A university city, it offers extensive cultural activity. There are landscaped gardens, a 17th century castle, Schloss Johannisburg and a historic center with timbered houses.
Würzburg is the northern terminus of the Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse). The city has a large number of impressive monuments including the huge Würzburg Residenz built in the 18th century and rebuilt after having been partially destroyed in World War II. Another prominent landmark is the Fortress Marienberg, overlooking the Main River.
Würzburg, a city of 125,000, had a turbulent history. Settled in the fourth century it became the scene of mass-murder of women as witches in the 17th century and Jews during the Crusades.. In 1945, 90% of the city was destroyed by the RAF, and rebuilt, after that, primarily by women. On the positive side, Würzburg is now a center of the performing arts. There are numerous festivals annually including a Mozart festival in the summer.
Schweinfurt, the region's third city does not have a particularly aromatic name - it means Pig's Ford. As the center of German ball bearing production , it was heavily damaged during World War II. The city primarily serves as a convenient starting point for visits to the attractive Rhön and Wineland areas of the region.