Franken, Franconia in English, occupies the northwestern part of Bavaria. It is an area of supreme natural beauty, and the ancestral home of the Franks who ruled much of Central Europe during the heyday of Charlemagne. Informally, the area is divided into two parts, "Beer Franken" and "Wine Franken." Nürnberg is the capital of the beer-drinking area, while Würzburg is the hub of "Wine Franken," with vineyards creeping all the way into the city, and with wine making up the core of the city's trade since at least 777 AD. Bamberg, which sits on the border of the two areas, enjoys notoriety for its beer as well.
Franken, while largely comprising the northern parts of Bavaria, also takes in a small portion of southern Thuringia and Tauberfranken, the latter a region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg. The main cities of the region are Würzburg, Bamberg, Bayreuth and Nürnberg, and the principal river, Main, with the Danube meandering farther to the south of there. The Main-Danube Canal, which was completed in 1993 and which passes through Bamberg and Nürnberg, enables boat transportation between the two rivers, Main and Danube.
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