Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)

From GenWiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Regional Research > Germany, after 1989 > Bavaria > Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)

Location of Administrative District (Regierungsbezirk) Oberfranken within the Federal State (Bundesland) Bavaria



Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) is one of the 7 administrative districts (Regierungsbezirk) of Bavaria (Bayern).

Coat of Arms

Oberfranken - Coat of arms
Der Fränkische Rechen

The Upper Franconian coat of arms represents the former territories that made up the main parts of this area. The black lion covered with a thin white line represents the former Hochstift Bamberg (ecclesiastical principality of the Bishopric), the white and black quartered argent and sable represents the Markgrafschaft Brandenburg-(Kulmbach)-Bayreuth, the black and golden rue with the green crown part stands for the former Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg and the fourth part is the Fränkischen Rechen.

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 Upper Franconia, Middle Franconia, and Lower Franconia. In medieval times there never was a united political entity called Franken (Franconia), only a lot of small formerly sovereign states and numerous ecclesiastical 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 Franconia; in the so-called great version of Bavarias coat of arms as well as in the coat of arms of the other two Franconian administrative districts.

General Information

Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) is located in the northeast of Bavaria. It is one of the smallest Bavarian administrative districts, as well in size as populations-wise. In the north it borders on the German Federal States Thuringia, in the northeast on Saxonyand within Bavaria on the Bavarian administrative districts Middle Franconia, Lower Franconia and Upper Palatinate. In the east it borders on the Czech Republic (three border crossing-points). 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.

Data: 2003 Area in qkm Population Inhabitants /qkm
Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) 7,231 1,109,674 153
Middle Franconia 7,245 1,706,615 236
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)

see also:

Political Structure

Upper Franconias administrative Capital is the city of Bayreuth.

Counties of Oberfranken


Independent Cities

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). After these reforms a lot of formerly independent places and communities became part of another municipality (sometimes with this even became part of another county). Also some formerly existing counties were combined and the old county names ceased to exists. In some areas of Bavaria places even changed the administrative district (Regierungsbezirk) they belonged too.
Upper Franconia included 10 new municipalities from others into its territory and handed over 38 municipalities to surrounding other administrative districts.

Upper Franconias past administrative structure:(**)

Upper Franconia since 1972 before 1972
Counties 9 17
Independent Cities   4 9
Municipalities 214 1,069

Counties (before county/municipality reforms in 1972 / 78):

* Bamberg  
* Bayreuth  
* Coburg  
* Ebermannstadt (today: former south is part of county Forchheim)
* Forchheim  
* Höchstadt an der Aisch (today: Administrative District: Middle Franconia, part of county Erlangen-Höchstadt)
* Hof  
* Kronach  
* Kulmbach  
* Lichtenfels  
* Münchberg (today: part of county Hof)
* Naila (today: part of county Hof)
* Pegnitz (today: former southwest is part of county Forchheim)
* Rehau (today: part of county Hof)
* Stadtsteinach (today: part of county Kulmbach)
* Staffelstein (today: main part is county Lichtenfels, rest county Coburg, county Bamberg)
* Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge  

Independent Cities (before county/municipality reforms in 1972 / 78):

* Bamberg  
* Bayreuth  
* Coburg  
* Forchheim (today: part of county Forchheim)
* Hof  
* Kulmbach (today: part of county Kulmbach)
* Marktredwitz (today: part of county Wundsiedel im Fichtelgebirge)
* Neustadt bei Coburg (today: part of county Coburg)
* Selb (today: part of county Wundsiedel im Fichtelgebirge)

(Source: Handbuch der bayerischen Ämter, Gemeinden und Gerichte 1799-1980, Hrsg. W. Volkert)

Church Structure

Due to historical reasons Upper Franconias total population is a mix of Protestant and Catholics. There are 9 counties in which the population is dominantly protestant (over 65-79%) while 5 counties are more catholic (over 65-85%). In the evangelical counties the population is protestant since 1527/28 and the Reformation (1517-1555). The Reformation in the Franconian region, beginning in Imperial Free City Nürnberg (today Middle Franconia), spread rapid and found 1527 in the Margrave of Ansbach-Kulmbach (Georg, der Fromme) a strong helping hand. He became a protestant early on and in 1528 carried through the Protestantism within his territory. In 1533 he enacted the Brandenburg-Nürnbergische Kirchenordnung (church decree) and with that he became one of the Founding Fathers of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Bavaria. And so since the Reformation in some parts of nowadays Upper Franconia the majority of the population stayed protestant.
The more catholic parts of Upper Franconia consist of the territory of the former catholic Hochstift Bamberg (a former ecclesiastical principality of the bishopric). In the past here the people either stayed catholic or reverted back to Catholicism after the so-called Gegenreformation (rigorous reinforcing of Catholicism, Counter-Reformation).



  • Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche (Evangelical-Reformed Church, Homepage)
  • Territories and history see: Evangelical-Reformed parish in - Bayreuth. (And also Erlangen, that today belongs to Middle Franconia, but before 1810 was part of Margravate Brandenburg-Bayreuth)



Religion of Population (1987)

Religion of population (1987) Population    Roman
Jewish   other
total % % % % %
Bavaria 10,902,643 67 24 0.05 4 5
Upper Franconia 1,036,576 46 50 0.01 2 2
County Bamberg 119,829 85 13 0.01 1 1
County Bayreuth 96,772 40 57   1 2
County Coburg 82,033 19 77   2 2
County Forchheim 97,433 69 26 0.01 3 2
County Hof 105,628 17 79 0.01 3 2
County Kronach 75,353 63 35 0.01 1 1
County Kulmbach 73,055 29 68 0.01 2 2
County Lichtenfels 65,602 69 28   1 1
County Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge   87,941 30 64   3 3
Bamberg (city) 69,100 75 19 0.04 3 2
Bayreuth (city) 69,813 29 64 0.04 3 4
Coburg (city) 42,909 23 69   4 5
Hof (city) 51,108 22 68 0.08 7 3

(**) incl. Freikirchen

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


See here separate page:

Historical Political Structure

Before 1806/1810/1920 the territory of nowadays Upper Franconia consisted of a varied mix of separate sovereign states and holdings (this situation is in German also called Kleinstaaterei).

Historical predecessor entities on Upper Franconian territory before 1806/1810 (and 1920):

  • Margravate Brandenburg-Bayreuth (only the Principality above Gebuergs-part belongs today to Upper Franconia, beyond Gebuergs-area became part of Middle Franconia)
  • Ecclesiastical territory owned by the former Hochstift Bamberg
  • Territories of other Franconia monasteries and abbeys (ecclesiastical holdings)
  • Territories of Franconian Counts and noble lords (Reichsritterschaft)
  • Before 1920: Duchy Sachsen-Coburg

See here also:

Development of the past administrative structure of Upper Franconia after 1806/1810/1920:
Within the organizational structure of the Kingdom of Bavaria, former separate predecessor entities of current day Upper Franconia were combined and formed in:

  • 1808: the first Mainkreis (with capital: Bamberg), consisting mainly of the territory of former Hochstift Bamberg
  • 1810: the second Mainkreis (with capital: Bayreuth), enlarged with the territory of the former Margravate Brandenburg-Bayreuth that became part of Kingdom of Bavaria in 1810. (Only the Principality above Gebuerg-part was included in the Mainkreis, the beyond Gebuerg-part was included into Rezatkreis, the later Middle Franconia).
  • 1817: the Mainkreis was renamed into Obermainkreis
    and got from Rezatkreis (LG ä.O.: Forchheim, Gräfenberg, Höchstadt).

And after a major re-organization of the royal administration, finally an administrative region called in:

  • 1837: Kreis Oberfranken was created
    and handed over to Kreis Oberpfalz (LG ä.O.: Eschenbach, Kemnath, Neustadt a.d. Waldnaab, Tirschenreuth, Waldsassen) and got from Kreis Mittelfranken (LG ä.O.: Herzogenaurach).
  • 1920: The former Duchy Sachsen-Coburg (Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg) became part of Bavaria and with that part of Kreis Oberfranken.

The main area of this enlarged Kreis Oberfranken is more or less identical to the Upper Franconia as we know it today. In the following years there were a few further changes: e.g. in 1933: administrative regions Kreis Oberfranken and Kreis Mittelfranken were combined to Kreis Oberfranken and Mittelfranken, in 1948: this was reversed and lastly the now called Regierungsbezirk Oberfranken (administrative district Upper Franconia) was re-established, in 1972: Upper Franconia handed over to Middle Franconia (county Höchstadt an der Aisch, today part of county Erlangen-Höchstadt).

LG ä.O. = Landgericht älterer Ordnung / Landgericht ä.O. (Regional court area of the old Order)

Genealogical and Historical Societies

Genealogical Societies

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

Historical Societies

Historischer Verein für Oberfranken Historical Society of Upper Franconia, website in German

Genealogical and Historical Documents


  • Archiv für Geschichte und Alterthumskunde des Ober-Main-Kreises (1831-1836)
  • Archiv für Geschichte und Altertumskunde von Oberfranken (1838-1938)
  • Archiv für Geschichte von Oberfranken (1939-)

Genealogical Literature

Historical Literature

Gazetteers and Maps



Maps showing the territory development of Upper Franconia from 1745-1810:

Maps showing the past administrative organization of Upper Franconia, 1810 until today:

see also:

Archives and Libraries


Church Book Archives




Regional Food

Regional Landscapes

Internet Links

Official Websites

Genealogical Websites

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

Miscellaneous Websites

Data from the Genealogical Place Database (GOV)

GOV-Id adm_369094
  • Upper Franconia (eng)
  • Mainkreis (1808-10-01 - 1817-03-31) Source 1808 Spalte 1482 (deu)
  • Obermainkreis (1817-04-01 - 1837-12-31) Source 1817 Spalte 117 (deu)
  • Oberfranken (1838-01-01 -) Source 1837 Spalte 797 (deu)
  • Kreis (1808-10-01 - 1933)
  • administrative district (1948 -)
external id
  • NUTS1999:DE24
  • NUTS2003:DE24
  • BLO:9
web page
Number of households

TK25: 5934

Superordinate objects

Bavaria, Bayern, Bavière, Beieren, Бавария (1948 -) ( federal state )

Bavaria, Baiern, Churpfalz-Baiern, Kurpfalz-Bayern, Pfalz-Baiern, Bayern (1808-10-01 - 1933) ( duchy kingdom free state ) Source 1808 Spalte 1482

Subordinate objects
name type GOV-Id Timespan
Lichtenfels rural county adm_139478
Bayreuth county-level city adm_139462
Bayreuth district office rural county adm_139472
Neustadt bei Coburg county-level city Stadt NEUURGJO50NH (1920 - 1972)
Bamberg I district office object_386983
Forchheim rural county adm_139474
Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge rural county adm_139479
Hof county-level city adm_139464
Hof rural county adm_139475
Bamberg II, Bamberg district office rural county adm_139471
Stadtsteinach rural county object_283885 (- 1972)
Münchberg rural county object_374516 (- 1972)
Kronach district office rural county adm_139476
Bamberg county-level city adm_139461
Pottenstein Landgericht Magistrates' Court object_285602 (1838-01-01 - 1879)
Berneck district office object_386994 (- 1929-09-30)
Kulmbach rural county adm_139477
Coburg Landratsamt rural county adm_139473 (1920-07-01 -)
Coburg county-level city adm_139463 (1920-07-01 -)

Umleitung fehlt

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 |

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) |

Personal tools
In other languages