For all its high-octane modernity, Frankfurt has long played an often distinguished role in German history. In the Middle Ages it was a free imperial city, and even today its fierce civic pride echoes that doughty medieval independence. In 1562 it succeeded Aachen as the city in which Holy Roman Emperors were crowned, a role it retained until 1792, and in 1848 it was the setting for the first democratically elected German national assembly. A century later, it narrowly lost out to Bonn in the competition to become capital of the new Federal Republic of Germany. Frankfurt also has a proud Jewish history: the Rothschild banking dynasty originated here, and though the Jewish tradition was all but wiped out under the Nazis it has, of late, made a spirited comeback.

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