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The meaning of «alzenau»

Alzenau (German: [ˈaltsənaʊ] (listen); until 31 December 2006 officially Alzenau i.UFr.) is a town in the north of the Aschaffenburg district in the Regierungsbezirk of Lower Franconia (Unterfranken) in Bavaria, Germany. Until 1 July 1972, Alzenau was the district seat of the now abolished district of the same name and has a population of around 19,000.[3]

Alzenau is one of the eastern outliers of the Frankfurt Rhine Main Region and is crossed by the river Kahl.[4] Most of its constituent communities nestle on or between the slopes of the western outliers of the Spessart with its Hahnenkamm (436 m above Normalhöhennull).[3] The closest hills to the town are Heilberg and Schanzenkopf.

With roughly 2,600 ha of woodland and 85 ha of vineyards, it has been referred to as Stadt im Grünen ("Town in the Green").[5] Alzenau is only a short drive on the A 45 or trainride on the Kahlgrundbahn from Aschaffenburg, Hanau or Frankfurt am Main.[6]

Alzenau borders in the north on the communities of Rodenbach and Freigericht, in the east and southeast on the communities of Mömbris and Johannesberg, in the southwest on the community of Karlstein and in the west on the community of Kahl am Main.

Alzenau's quarters are Albstadt, Hörstein, Kälberau, Michelbach and Wasserlos.[7]

On 1 January 1972, Kälberau was amalgamated into Alzenau. Albstadt and Wasserlos followed on 1 July that same year, as did Hörstein and Michelbach three years later, on 1 July 1975.[8]

The former epithet “in Unterfranken” (“in Lower Franconia”) distinguished it from another Alzenau (now Olszanka, Opole Voivodeship, Silesia), which since the Potsdam Agreement has been in Poland.

Until the 15th century, Alzenau was known as Wilmundsheim. When the Archbishop of Mainz built a castle on the other side of the Kahl, the name was changed to Alzenau, likely because the place lay allzu nahe (“all too near”) the castle.[9]

The area was settled quite early on. There are traces of settlement and graves from Hallstatt times (Iron Age), graves from the Beaker culture (2600 BC) and crematory graves from the Old Urnfield times (about 1000 BC).[10]

In 950 the community of Wilmundsheim on the Kahl's left bank had its first documentary mention.[11]

In the 12th century, the Freigericht (“Free Court”) was established by Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa comprising the settlements of Wildmundsheim, Hörstein, Mömbris and Somborn and it was excused taxes and obligatory service. The twigs in the town's coat of arms symbolize this heritage. The Märker, as the townsmen sometimes called themselves, had to defend their autonomy against local noble families’ ambitions; these included the Rannenbergs and the Rienecks, and further pressures came from the Archbishops of Mainz.

These last built Alzenau Castle (Burg Alzenau) on the Kahl's right bank, across from Wilmundsheim, between 1395 and 1399 to protect their local holdings. In 1401, the settlement below this castle was granted town and market rights by King Ruprecht of the Palatinate, although these could not be realized. A few years later, the old centre of Wilmundsheim was destroyed and it was melded with the settlement across the Kahl, whereupon it also took the castle's name.[12]

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