Franken (Franconia)

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Regional Research > Germany, after 1989 > Bavaria > Franken (Franconia)

Location of Franken (Franconia) within the German Federal State Bavaria



Franken (Franconia) is an area in the German Federal State Bavaria (Bayern); consisting of 3 of Bavaria's seven administrative districts. It is located in the north of Bavaria and centrally in the south of Germany.

Coat of Arms

Fränkischer Rechen

In medieval times and in past centuries there never was a united political entity called Franken (Franconia), only a lot of small formerly sovereign states, Imperial Free Cities and numerous ecclesiastical and secular holdings that made up this region. Due to this there had never been an actual historical coat of arms for the whole region of Franconia. Nevertheless the white and red Fränkischer Rechen became the symbol for whole Franconia; in the so-called great version of Bavaria's coat of arms as well as in the coat of arms of the three current day Franconian administrative districts.

Der Fränkische Rechen (the Franconian rake or saw-tooth) shows three white (silver) spires on a red background. The saw-tooth has become a symbol commonly associated with the whole region of Franconia - consisting of Middle Franconia, Upper Franconia and Lower Franconia.

General Information

Franconia is located in the north of Bavaria it consists of:

These are three of Bavaria's seven Regierungsbezirke (administrative districts). Middle Franconia is area-wise second smallest of all administrative district, yet it is one of the most densely populated areas of Bavaria. Upper Franconia is one of the smallest, in size and populations wise. Lower Franconia ranks population-wise fourth and size-wise fifth.

Data: 2003 Area in qkm    Population    Inhabitants /qkm
Middle Franconia    7,245 1,706,615 236
Upper Franconia 7,231 1,109,674 153
Lower Franconia 8,531 1,344,740 158
Franconia total 23,007 4,161,029 181
Bavaria total 70,549 12,423,386 176

(Source: Bayerisches Landesamt für Statistik und Datenverarbeitung, Genesis online)

Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)

Middle Franconia is located in the northwest of Bavaria. It borders on all other Bavarian administrative districts (except Lower Bavaria). In the west it borders on ca. 180 km on the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. The first German railway system that ever was built, run in Middle Franconia in 1835, between Nürnberg and Fürth (Bayern).

Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)

Upper Franconia is located in the northeast of Bavaria. In the north it borders on the German Federal States Saxony, in the northeast on Thuringia and within Bavaria on the Bavarian administrative districts Middle Franconia, Lower Franconia and Upper Palatinate. In the east it borders on the Czech Republic. As a consequence of the unification of Germany and the opening of the borders to the East European countries, Upper Franconia as a former dead-end border area is now located right in the center of Europe.

Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)

Lower Franconia is located in the northwest of Bavaria and is the most northern of the seven Bavarian administrative districts. It borders on the Bavarian administrative districts Middle Franconia and Upper Franconia and it also borders on these German Federal States: in the northwest on Hesse, in the northeast on Thuringia and in the southwest on Baden-Württemberg.

Political Structure

The region of Franconia consists of these three Bavarian administrative districts:

Administrative District (Regierungsbezirk) Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia) Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)
Admin. Capital Ansbach Bayreuth Würzburg
Counties (Landkreise) 7 9 9
County names Ansbach, Erlangen-Höchstadt, Fürth, Neustadt an der Aisch-Bad Windsheim , Nürnberger Land, Roth, Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen Bamberg, Bayreuth, Coburg, Forchheim, Hof, Kronach, Kulmbach, Lichtenfels, Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge Aschaffenburg, Bad Kissingen, Haßberge, Kitzingen, Main-Spessart, Miltenberg, Rhön-Grabfeld, Schweinfurt, Würzburg
Independent cities 5 4 3
  Ansbach, Erlangen, Fürth (Bayern), Nürnberg, Schwabach Bamberg, Bayreuth, Coburg, Hof, Aschaffenburg, Schweinfurt, Würzburg
Municipalities (Gemeinden) 205 214 308
Map (BLZ)
further maps see here see here see here

Structure before 1972/78

In 1972/78 Bavaria had a major re-organization of the administrative system - a county-reform (Landkreisreform) and the municipality-reform (Gemeindereform). Aim was to downsize the number of existing administrative counties (Landkreise), independent cities (Kreisfreie Städte) and municipalities (Gemeinden).

Church Structure

Due to historical reasons Middle Franconia is dominantly more protestant then any other Bavarian administrative district. Since 1527/28 and the Reformation (1517-1555) the majority of people there are Evangelical. Upper Franconia's total population is a mix of Protestant and Catholics. There are 9 counties in which the population is dominantly protestant, while 5 counties are more catholic. Lower Franconia population is dominantly more catholic then in the other two Franconian administrative districts.





Religion of Population (1987)

Religion of population (1987) Population    Roman
Jewish   other
total % % % % %
Bavaria 10,902,643 67 24 0.05 4 5
Middle Franconia (details) 1,521,484 36 54 0.04 5 6
Upper Franconia (details) 1,036,576 46 50 0.01 2 2
Lower Franconia (details) 1,202,711 75 20 0.02 2 3

(**) incl. Freikirchen

(Source: Data: 1987, Bayerisches Landesamt für Statistik und Datenverarbeitung, Genesis online)


Franconia (nowadays Middle Franconia, Upper Franconia, Lower Franconia) became part of Bavaria only in 1803/1806/1810/1814/1920. Before that Franken consisted a long time of many separate sovereign states, numerous ecclesiastical and secular holdings and territories of Imperial Free Cities - in the past it never was a united historical, political entity.

In 1803 after the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss quite a few of these smaller sovereign states, plus Imperial Free Cities (after the Mediatization) and ecclesiastical holdings (after the Säkularisation) in this region lost their sovereignty and were already incorporated into the then Electorate of Bavaria. After Bavaria was raised to Kingdom of Bavaria in 1806 it incorporated the rest of Franconian territory at different times in the following years. See here summary information:

see also:

Historical Political Structure

Before 1806 the area of Franconia - Mittelfranken, Oberfranken, Unterfranken - consisted of a varied mix of separate sovereign states and holdings (this situation is in German also called Kleinstaaterei). See here respective summary information:

see also:

Genealogical and Historical Societies

Genealogical Societies

Gesellschaft für Familienforschung in Franken e.V. Society for family research in Franconia, in English and German


Genealogical Literature

Historical Literature

Gazetteers and Maps



Archives and Libraries




Ethnology and Local History


The Franks (die Franken)
The tribe of the ca. 4,1 million Franken lives in the administrative districts of Middle Franconia, Upper Franconia and Lower Franconia, these areas have become part of Bavaria only in the early 19th century.


Regional Food

Regional Landscapes

  • Middle Franconia is basically located between the Fränkischen Jura in the South and East and the Frankenhöhe and the southern part of the Steigerwald in the West. The southern Steigerwald with the mountain Hohenlandsberg as its highest elevation (498 m), stretches along to the east into the Mittelfränkisches Becken. After this main valley area - the lower terrains of the rivers Rednitz/Regnitz - the countryside forms slowly the higher areas of the Fränkischen Jura. In the South in the National park Altmühltal arises, as the highest point of the Bavarian Jurazug and as well of Middle Franconia, the mountain Hesselberg (689 m). The central part of the scenic south Frankenalb is the Altmühltal (valley of the river Altmühl), with its deep valleys and Castle-crowned places (cities, villages).
    Middle Franconia's main rivers are: Regnitz, Rednitz, Pegnitz, Aisch, Altmühl.

  • The landscape of Upper Franconia is dominated by green low mountain ranges and picturesque river valleys, the Fichtelgebirge, the Frankenwald, the Fränkischen Jura, the Bavarian Vogtland and the upper parts of the river Main, with its many side arms.
    The main rivers in Upper Franconia are: Main, Saale, Pegnitz, Regnitz, Röden, Itz, Weismain, Wiesent, Rodach, Kronach, Steinach, Selbitz.

  • Lower Franconia is the landscape of the so-called Bildstöcke (Tilman Riemenschneider), of churches, castles, romantic stately homes and vineyards. Wine growing is an over 1200 years old documented tradition of Lower Franconia. The Franconian wine (Frankenwein) is considered as one of the top-quality wines of Germany and is an absolute top-quality product in Europe.
    The largest river in Lower Franconia is the Main, the backbone and lifeline of this region.

Internet Links

Genealogical Websites

  • Gesellschaft f ür Familienforschung in Franken e.V. Society for family research in Franconia, in English and German
  • Bavaria GenWeb Homepage
  • Bavaria - FAQ
  • Bavarian Surnames Index
  • FOKO - FAQ in English, Database of researched surnames and researchers contact/address data
  • FOKO Database direct Link
  • Ollig Archiv - Totenzettel / Sterbebilder Collection of special forms of Bavarian obituaries
    Click on left side on Totenzettel / Sterbezettel, see: alphabetisch sortierte Liste der Familiennamen (alphabetical sorted list of surnames). This online available collection contains currentyl over 20,000 persons with ca. 7,721 surnames. The main part of the collection comes from the Bavarian area. Available data: Familien- und Geburtsname (family or birth surname), additionally if available, Geburts- und Sterbedatum und Ort (birth/death date and place), Beruf (occupation), Ort der Bestattung (place of burial), Name und Ort der Druckerei (name and place of the company who printed the Sterbebilder).

Genealogical Mailinglists

Miscellaneous Websites

Administrative Districts in the Federal State Bavaria

Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia) | Niederbayern (Lower Bavaria) | Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria) | Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) |
Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate) | Schwaben (Swabia) | Unterfranken (Lower Franconia) |

Counties and Independent Cities in Administrative District Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)

Ansbach (City) | Erlangen (City) | Fürth (City) | Nürnberg (City) | Schwabach (City) |
Counties: Ansbach | Erlangen-Höchstadt | Fürth | Neustadt an der Aisch-Bad Windsheim |
Nürnberger Land | Roth | Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen |

Counties and Independent Cities in Administrative District

Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)

Bamberg (City) | Bayreuth (City) | Schweinfurt (City) | Coburg (City) | Hof (City) |
Counties: Bamberg | Bayreuth | Coburg | Forchheim | Hof | Kronach | Kulmbach | Lichtenfels | Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge |

Counties and Independent Cities in Administrative District Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)

Aschaffenburg (City) | Schweinfurt (City) | Würzburg (City) |
Counties: Aschaffenburg | Bad Kissingen | Haßberge | Main-Spessart | Miltenberg | Rhön-Grabfeld | Schweinfurt | Würzburg |

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