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Würzburg Löwenbrücke.jpg
The Main in Würzburg.
Origin Upper Franconia
50°5′11″N 11°23′54″E / 50.08639°N 11.39833°E / 50.08639; 11.39833
Mouth Rhine
49°59′40″N 8°17′36″E / 49.99444°N 8.29333°E / 49.99444; 8.29333Coordinates: 49°59′40″N 8°17′36″E / 49.99444°N 8.29333°E / 49.99444; 8.29333
Basin countries Germany
Length 529 km (329 mi)
Avg. discharge 200 m3/s (7,100 cu ft/s) at mouth
Basin area 27,292 km2 (10,538 sq mi)
Map showing the position of the Main in Germany

The Main (German pronunciation: [ˈmaɪn]) is a river in Germany, 524 km (329 miles) long (including White Main, 574 km (357 mi)), and it is one of the more significant tributaries of the Rhine. The Main flows through the German states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg (forming the border with Bavaria for some distance) and Hesse. Its watershed competes with the Danube for water; as a result, many of its boundaries are identical with those of the European Watershed. The Main begins near Kulmbach at the joining of its two headstreams, the Red Main (Roter Main) and the White Main (Weißer Main). The Red Main rises in the Frankish Alb, 50 km (30 mi) in length, and runs through Creussen and Bayreuth. The White Main rises in the mountains of the Fichtelgebirge; it is 41 km (25 mi) long. Major tributaries of the Main are the Regnitz, the Fränkische Saale, the Tauber, and the Nidda.

The name derives from the Latin Moenus or Menus, and is not related to the name of the city Mainz (Latin Moguntiacum).


The Main is navigable for shipping from its mouth at the Rhine close to Mainz for 396 km to Bamberg. Since 1992, the Main has been connected to the Danube via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal and the highly regulated Altmühl river. The river has been canalized with 34 large locks (300 m × 12 m (980 ft × 39 ft)) to allow CEMT class V (110 m × 11.45 m (360 ft × 38 ft)) 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.

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 and Würzburg. The Main also passes the following towns and cities: Burgkunstadt, Lichtenfels, Bad Staffelstein, Eltmann, Haßfurt, Schweinfurt, Volkach, Kitzingen, Marktbreit, Ochsenfurt, Karlstadt, Gemünden, Lohr, Marktheidenfeld, Wertheim, Miltenberg, Obernburg, Aschaffenburg, Seligenstadt, Hainburg, Hanau, Offenbach, Hattersheim, Flörsheim, and Rüsselsheim.

The river has gained enormous importance as a vital part of European "Corridor VII", the inland waterway link from the North Sea to the Black Sea.[1]



Main rivers are a statutory type of watercourse in England and Wales, usually larger streams and rivers, but also include some smaller watercourses. A main river is defined as a watercourse marked as such on a main river map, and can include any structure or appliance for controlling or regulating the flow of water in, into or out of a main river. The Environment Agency's powers to carry out flood defence works apply to main rivers only. In England main rivers are designated by Defra. The Welsh Assembly Government performs this function in Wales[1] [2]. Every other open watercourse in England and Wales is determined by statute as an 'ordinary watercourse'.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MAIN (Lat. Moenus), a river of Germany, and the most important right-bank tributary of the Rhine. It has two sources, the Weisse Main (White Main), which rises in the Fichtelgebirge on the east side of the Ochsenkopf, and the Rote Main (Red Main), which, rising on the eastern slope of the Frankish Jura, flows past Bayreuth. They unite 3 m. below Kulmbach, Sao ft. above the sea. Hence the river, already of considerable size, pursues a north-westerly direction, skirting the spurs of the Frankish Jura in a pleasant valley. At Lichtenfels the river takes a south-westerly course, which it retains until entering the fertile basin of Bamberg. Here it receives from the south-east the waters of its chief tributary, the Regnitz, and enters upon its middle course. Its direction is now again north-west, and meandering through pleasant vales and pastures it passes Hassfurt and reaches Schweinfurt. Its course is now almost due south to Ochsenfurt, when it again proceeds north-west. Continuing in' this direction amid vine-clad hills, it washes the walls of the university city of Wiirzburg, and thence, dividing the forest-clad ranges of the Spessart and the Odenwald, reaches Gemtinden. Here it is joined from the right by the Frankish Saale and, turning abruptly south, receives at Wertheim the beautiful Tauber. Feudal castles and medieval towns now crown its banks, notably, Freudenberg and Miltenberg. From the latter it proceeds due north to Aschaffenburg, whence passing Frankfort it pours its yellow waters into the green waters of the Rhine just above Mainz. The Main has a total length of 310 m. and drains a basin of approximately i i,000 sq. m. It is navigable from the confluence of the Regnitz, 240 m. from its mouth, for barges and other small craft, and through the Ludwig Canal is connected with the Danube.

See Ulrici, Das Maingehiet in seiner natiirlichen Beschaffenheit (Kassel, 1885); E. Faber, I Zur Hydrographie des Maingebiets (Munich, 1895), and Lill, Mainthal, Main and Mainschiffahrt (Berlin, 1904).

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