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The Main () is the longest
tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem river drain the surrounding drainage ba ...
of the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
. It rises as the
White Main The White Main (german: Weißer Main or ''Weißmain'', not to be confused with the Weismain (river), Weismain), is the larger and shorter of the two headstreams of the River Main. It rises in the Fichtelgebirge and merges near Steinenhausen, southw ...
in the
Fichtel Mountains The Fichtel MountainsRandlesome, C. et al. (2011). ''Business Cultures in Europe'', 2nd ed., Routledge, Abingdon and New York, p. 52. . (german: Fichtelgebirge, cs, Smrčiny), form a small horseshoe-shaped mountain range in northeastern Bavari ...
of northeastern
Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landlocked Federated state, state (''States of Germany ...

Bavaria
and flows west through central
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...

Germany
for to meet the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
below Rüsselsheim,
Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hessen ), officially the State of Hessen (german: links=no, Land Hessen), is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U. ...
. The cities of
Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine ...

Mainz
and
Wiesbaden Wiesbaden () is a city in central western Germany and the capital of the state of Hesse. , it had 290,955 inhabitants, plus approximately 21,000 United States citizens (mostly associated with the United States Army). The Wiesbaden urban area i ...

Wiesbaden
are close to the confluence. The largest cities on the Main are
Frankfurt am Main Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian dialects, Hessian: , "Franks, Frank ford (crossing), ford on the Main (river), Main"; french: Francfort-sur-le-Main), is the most populous city in the States of Germany, German state of Hess ...

Frankfurt am Main
,
Offenbach am Main Offenbach am Main () is a List of cities and towns in Germany, city in Hesse, Germany, on the left bank of the river Main (river), Main. It borders Frankfurt and is part of the Frankfurt urban area and the larger Frankfurt Rhein-Main Regional Auth ...

Offenbach am Main
and
Würzburg Würzburg (; Main-Franconian: ; bar, Wiazbuag or ) is a List of cities and towns in Germany, city in the traditional region of Franconia in the north of the Germany, German state of Bavaria. At the next-down tier of local government it is the a ...

Würzburg
. It is the longest river lying entirely in Germany (if the
Weser The Weser () is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without r ...
-
Werra The Werra (), a river in central Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north ...
are considered separate).


Geography

The Main flows through the north and north-west of the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...

state
of
Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landlocked Federated state, state (''States of Germany ...

Bavaria
then across southern
Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hessen ), officially the State of Hessen (german: links=no, Land Hessen), is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U. ...
; against the latter it demarcates a third state,
Baden-Württemberg Baden-Württemberg (; ) is a States of Germany, state (''Land'') in southwest Germany, east of the Rhine, which forms the southern part of Germany's western border with France. With more than 11 million inhabitants as of 2017 across a total are ...
, east and west of
Wertheim am Main Wertheim is a town in southwestern Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg with a population of around 23,400. It is located on the confluence of the rivers Tauber and Main (river), Main. Wertheim is best known for its landmark castle and m ...
, the northernmost town of that state. The upper end of its
basin
basin
opposes that of the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
where the watershed is recognised by natural biologists, sea salinity studies (and hydrology science more broadly) as the European Watershed. The Main begins near
Kulmbach Kulmbach is the capital of the district of Kulmbach in Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked ...
in
Franconia Franconia (german: Franken, ; Franconian dialect: ''Franggn'' ; bar, Frankn) is a region of Germany, characterised by its culture and Franconian languages, Franconian dialect (German: ''Fränkisch''). The three Regierungsbezirk, administrative ...

Franconia
at the joining of its two headstreams, the
Red Main The Red Main (german: Roter Main or ''Rotmain'') is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at th ...
(''Roter Main'') and the
White Main The White Main (german: Weißer Main or ''Weißmain'', not to be confused with the Weismain (river), Weismain), is the larger and shorter of the two headstreams of the River Main. It rises in the Fichtelgebirge and merges near Steinenhausen, southw ...
(''Weißer Main''). The Red Main originates in the
Franconian Jura The Franconian Jura (, , , ) is an upland in Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, la ...
mountain range, in length, and runs through Creussen and
Bayreuth Bayreuth (, ; bar, Bareid) is a medium-sized town#Germany, town in northern Bavaria, Germany, on the Red Main river in a valley between the Franconian Jura and the Fichtelgebirge Mountains. The town's roots date back to 1194. In the 21st centur ...
. The White Main originates in the mountains of the
Fichtelgebirge The Fichtel MountainsRandlesome, C. et al. (2011). ''Business Cultures in Europe'', 2nd ed., Routledge, Abingdon and New York, p. 52. . (german: Fichtelgebirge, cs, Smrčiny), form a small horseshoe-shaped mountain range in northeastern Bavar ...

Fichtelgebirge
; it is long. In its upper and middle section, the Main runs through the valleys of the German Highlands. Its lower section crosses the Lower Main Lowlands (
Hanau-Seligenstadt Basin The Hanau-Seligenstadt Basin is a subbasin of the Upper Rhine Graben southeast of Frankfurt am Main Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian: ''Frangford am Maa'', " Frank ford The Ford Motor Company, commonly known as For ...
and northern
Upper Rhine PlainThe Upper Rhine Plain, Rhine Rift Valley or Upper Rhine Graben (German language, German: ''Oberrheinische Tiefebene'', ''Oberrheinisches Tiefland'' or ''Oberrheingraben'', French language, French: ''Vallée du Rhin'') is a major rift, about and on a ...
) to
Wiesbaden Wiesbaden () is a city in central western Germany and the capital of the state of Hesse. , it had 290,955 inhabitants, plus approximately 21,000 United States citizens (mostly associated with the United States Army). The Wiesbaden urban area i ...

Wiesbaden
, where it discharges into the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
. Major tributaries of the Main are the
Regnitz The Regnitz is a river in Franconia Franconia (german: Franken; in the Franconian dialect: ''Franggn'' rɑŋgŋ̩ is a region in Germany, characterised by its culture and language, and may be roughly associated with the areas in which the ...

Regnitz
, the Franconian Saale, the
Tauber The is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching an ...

Tauber
, and the Nidda. The name ''Main'' originates from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
''Moenis'', ''Moenus'' or ''Menus''. It is not related to the name of the city
Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine ...

Mainz
(Latin: ''Mogontiacum'' or ''Moguntiacum'').


Navigation

The Main is navigable for shipping from its mouth at the Rhine close to Mainz for to
Bamberg Bamberg (, , ) is a town in Upper Franconia Upper Franconia (german: Oberfranken) is a ''Regierungsbezirk A ' () means "governmental district" and is a type of administrative division in Germany. Four of sixteen ' (states of Germany) are s ...

Bamberg
. Since 1992, the Main has been connected to the Danube via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal and the highly regulated
Altmühl The Altmühl ( la, Alchmona, Alcmana, Almonus)
s.v. is a river in Bavaria, Germany. It is a left tributary of the river Dan ...

Altmühl
river. The Main has been canalized with 34 large locks () to allow CEMT class V vessels () to navigate the total length of the river. The 16 locks in the adjacent Rhine-Main-Danube Canal and the Danube itself are of the same dimensions.


Weirs and locks

There are 34 weirs and locks along the 380 km navigable portion of the Main, from the confluence with the Regnitz near Bamberg, to the Rhine. * No.: Number of the lock (from upstream to downstream). * Name: Name of the lock. * Location: City or town where the lock is located. * Year built: Year when the lock was put into operation (replacement dates are also listed where applicable). * Main-km: Location on the Main, measured from the 0 km stone in Mainz-Kostheim. The reference point is the center of the lock or lock group. * Distance between locks: length in km of impoundment (between adjacent locks). * Altitude: height in meters above mean sea level of the upper water at normal levels. * Height: Height of the dam in meters (the height of the Kostheim lock depends on the water level of the Rhine). * Lock length: Usable length of the lock chamber in meters. * Lock width: Usable width of the lock chamber in meters.


Hydroelectric power generation

Most of the weirs or dams along the Main also have turbines for power generation. * No.: Number of the dam/weir (from upstream to downstream). * Name: Name of the dam/weir. * Height: Height of the dam/weir in meters (the height of the Kostheim dam depends on the water level of the Rhine). * Power: Maximum power generation capacity in megawatts. * Turbines: Type and number of turbines. * Operator: Operator of the hydroelectric plant.


Tributaries

Tributaries A tributary, or affluent, is a stream A stream is a body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") ...
from source to mouth: Left *
Regnitz The Regnitz is a river in Franconia Franconia (german: Franken; in the Franconian dialect: ''Franggn'' rɑŋgŋ̩ is a region in Germany, characterised by its culture and language, and may be roughly associated with the areas in which the ...

Regnitz
*
Tauber The is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching an ...

Tauber
*
Mümling
Mümling
Right *
Rodach (Main) Rodach may refer to several locations in southern Germany: * Rodach (Itz) Rodach is a river of Bavaria and of Thuringia, Germany. It is a left tributary of the Itz near Itzgrund. It passes through Bad Rodach. See also *List of rivers of Bavaria ...
*
Itz
Itz
* Franconian Saale *
Aschaff The Aschaff (in its uppermost course: ''Kleinaschaff'') is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes ...
* Kahl * Kinzig * Nidda File:Mainfest Frankfurt.jpg, The Main in
Frankfurt Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian dialects, Hessian: , "Franks, Frank ford (crossing), ford on the Main (river), Main"; french: Francfort-sur-le-Main), is the most populous city in the States of Germany, German state of Hess ...

Frankfurt
at night Image:Offenbach 4.jpg, Main in
Offenbach am Main Offenbach am Main () is a List of cities and towns in Germany, city in Hesse, Germany, on the left bank of the river Main (river), Main. It borders Frankfurt and is part of the Frankfurt urban area and the larger Frankfurt Rhein-Main Regional Auth ...

Offenbach am Main
Image:Mainspitze fg01.JPG, Confluence into the Rhine at
Mainz-Kostheim Location of Mainz-Kostheim Mainz-Kostheim is a district administered by the city of Wiesbaden Wiesbaden () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, ...


Ports and municipalities

Around Frankfurt are several large inland ports. Because the river is rather narrow on many of the upper reaches, navigation with larger vessels and push convoys requires great skill. The largest cities along the Main are
Frankfurt am Main Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian dialects, Hessian: , "Franks, Frank ford (crossing), ford on the Main (river), Main"; french: Francfort-sur-le-Main), is the most populous city in the States of Germany, German state of Hess ...

Frankfurt am Main
,
Offenbach am Main Offenbach am Main () is a List of cities and towns in Germany, city in Hesse, Germany, on the left bank of the river Main (river), Main. It borders Frankfurt and is part of the Frankfurt urban area and the larger Frankfurt Rhein-Main Regional Auth ...

Offenbach am Main
and
Würzburg Würzburg (; Main-Franconian: ; bar, Wiazbuag or ) is a List of cities and towns in Germany, city in the traditional region of Franconia in the north of the Germany, German state of Bavaria. At the next-down tier of local government it is the a ...

Würzburg
. The Main also passes the following towns:
Burgkunstadt
Burgkunstadt
, Lichtenfels,
Bad Staffelstein Bad Staffelstein is a small town in the Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landl ...

Bad Staffelstein
,
Eltmann Eltmann is a town of 5256 inhabitants (in the Haßberge (district), Haßberge district of Lower Franconia, in Bavaria, Germany. It lies on the south bank of the Main (river), Main river, west of Bamberg. It comprises the town proper, and its outly ...
,
Haßfurt Haßfurt (; English: Hassfurt) is a town in Bavaria, Germany, capital of the Haßberge (district), Haßberge district. It is situated on the river Main (river), Main, 20 km east of Schweinfurt and 30 km northwest of Bamberg. In 1852, Ludwi ...

Haßfurt
,
Schweinfurt Schweinfurt ( , ; ) is a town#Germany, city in the district of Lower Franconia in Bavaria, Germany. It is the administrative centre of the surrounding Schweinfurt (district), district (''Landkreis'') of Schweinfurt and a major industrial, cultura ...

Schweinfurt
,
Volkach Volkach is a town in the district of Kitzingen (district), Kitzingen in the ''Regierungsbezirk Unterfranken'' (Lower Franconia) in Bavaria, Germany. It lies on the Main River and has a population of around 8,700. History The town was founded in ...

Volkach
,
Kitzingen Kitzingen () is a town in the German state of Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked count ...

Kitzingen
,
Marktbreit Marktbreit am Main (river), Main () is a town in the district of Kitzingen (district), Kitzingen in the Regierungsbezirk Unterfranken in Bavaria, Germany. It is situated at the most southern point of the Main river. Marktbreit is the birthplace o ...
,
Ochsenfurt Ochsenfurt () is a town in the district of Würzburg, in Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlo ...

Ochsenfurt
, Karlstadt, Gemünden, Lohr,
Marktheidenfeld
Marktheidenfeld
, Wertheim,
Miltenberg Miltenberg () is a town in the ''Regierungsbezirk A ' () means "governmental district" and is a type of administrative division in Germany. Four of sixteen ' (states of Germany) are split into '. Beneath these are rural and urban districts ...

Miltenberg
, Obernburg, Erlenbach/Main,
Aschaffenburg Aschaffenburg () is a town in northwest Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, land ...

Aschaffenburg
,
Seligenstadt Seligenstadt is a town in the Offenbach district in the ''Regierungsbezirk A ' () means "governmental district" and is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admi ...

Seligenstadt
, Hainburg,
Hanau Hanau () is a town in the Main-Kinzig-Kreis, in Hesse, Germany. It is located 25 km east of Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main and is part of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main, Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region. Its Hanau Hauptbahnhof, station is a ...

Hanau
, Hattersheim, Flörsheim, and Rüsselsheim. The river has gained enormous importance as a vital part of European "
Corridor VII
Corridor VII
", the inland waterway link from
the North Sea The North Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located between Great Britain (England and Scotland), Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. An epeiric sea, epeiric (or "shelf") sea on the European continental shelf, it conn ...

the North Sea
to the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
.


Main line

In a historical and political sense, the Main line is referred to as the northern border of
Southern Germany Southern Germany () as a region has no exact boundary but is generally taken to include the areas in which Upper German dialects are spoken. This corresponds roughly to the historical stem duchies of Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German ...
, with its predominantly
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...

Catholic
population. The river roughly marked the southern border of the North German Federation, established in 1867 under
Prussian Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated in 1525 with Duchy of Prussia, a duchy centered on the Prussia (region), region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Balt ...
leadership as the predecessor of the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
. The river course also corresponds with the
Speyer line In German dialectology, the Speyer line or Main line ( Main river) is an isogloss separating the Central German Central German (german: mitteldeutsche Dialekte, mitteldeutsche Mundarten, Mitteldeutsch) is a group of High German dialects spo ...
isogloss between
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...
and
Upper German Upper German ( German: ) is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in the southern German-speaking area (). Family tree Upper German proper comprises the Alemannic and Bavarian dialect groups. Furthermore, the High Franconian di ...

Upper German
dialects, sometimes mocked as '' Weißwurstäquator''.


Recreation

The Main-Radweg is a major German bicycle path alongside the river. Approximately , it is the first long-distance instance awarded 5 stars by the General German Bicycle Club ( ADFC) in 2008. It starts from
Creußen
Creußen
or
Bischofsgrün Bischofsgrün is a municipality in the district of Bayreuth (district), Bayreuth in Bavaria in Germany. Bischofsgrün is situated within the Fichtelgebirge mountain range between the range's two largest mountains; Schneeberg (Fichtelgebirge), Schn ...

Bischofsgrün
and ends in
Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine ...

Mainz
.


Sights

* Roman camp at Marktbreit


Notes and references

;Footnotes ;Citations


Bibliography

* Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte (ed.), Main und Meer - Porträt eines Flusses. Exhibition Catalogue to the Bayerische Landesausstellung 2013 (German). WBG. .


External links


''Main River''
Website on the River Main by the Tourist Board of Franconia. * * *
Water levels of Bavarian rivers



Main Cycleway

Historical map of the Main confluence at Steinenhausen
from ''BayernAtlas'' {{Authority control Rivers of Hesse Rivers of Bavaria Rivers of Baden-Württemberg Geography of Frankfurt
Federal waterways in GermanyThis category is for federal waterways in Germany, known as ''Bundeswasserstraßen'', that are legally defined by the Federal Waterway Law. They are navigable and important for shipping. Waterways in Germany ...
Rivers of Germany This category includes articles on rivers in Germany. See also: List of rivers of Germany. For canals, see :Canals in Germany. {{CatAutoTOC Bodies of water of Germany, Rivers Rivers of Europe by country, Germany Rivers by country, Germany ...
barney is a dinosour (: