The capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate state is technically the wine capital of Germany. Mainz, or as it was earlier called in French, Mayence, is popular for being the invention place of world’s first type printing press in the early 1450s. But its origin happened in the hands of the Romans, who set up Mainz in the 1st Century BCE as a military post to guard the northernmost empire of the Holy Roman Empire.Though heavily damaged during the Second World War, the town has now turned into a popular tourist destination in Europe.
Here's the list of tourist attractions and 15 best things to do in Mainz:
1. The Gutenberg Museum
The Gutenberg Museum is a literary delight to behold. Built in the years 1900 in memory of Johannes Gutenberg, the man who first starts mass-scale movable type printing, the museum houses exquisite antique pieces. These include the earliest known Japanese block printing device from the 770, the Peregrinations in Terram Sanctam, an illustrated travel memoir about a trip to the Holy Land, printed in 1483, and two of the 29 copies that still exist of the Gutenberg Bible, the first ever mass type-printed book, in 1455.
2. Mainz Cathedral
Located near the historical pedestrianized market square, the Mainz Cathedral or St. Martin’s Cathedral is a millennium old, catholic structure that has been a witness to numerous powers rising and falling. Although originally Roman, the red sandstone walls of the cathedral have had additions of Gothic and Baroque style, as well as middle age revival styles over the years. It houses numerous funerary monuments of the Prince-archbishops of the Holy Roman Empire and European arts from all the time it has seen on earth.
If you have some free time in hand, do visit this quaint neighbourhood in Mainz with pretty, half-timbered houses and a red sandstone fountain, made from the ruins of Theodore Heuss Bridge. Though the fountain is comparatively new, the square dates back to 1300s. Walking around the streets and taking in the ambience will give you a glimpse of the ancient Mainz.
4. Landesmuseum Mainz
If you love art and history and the combination of both, pay a visit to the Landesmuseum Mainz at all cost. Its collections date back to pre-history and come down to the modern era. Other than the Renaissance paintings and Baroque artefacts, one of the best attractions is a gold and enamel fibula in the medieval department from the 1000s, depicting an eagle with sapphire embellishments.
5. Museum of Ancient Seafaring
When some well-preserved remains of Roman warships were found from the Rhine in the early 1980s, they were set for exhibition for the public, and thus the museum came into being. The remains of the five excavated vessels from the 4th century are the main attraction. There are life-size replicas of the ships as well, explaining to the visitors how they looked like and how they worked back in the time they sailed the seas.
6. Wooden tower and Iron tower
The duo of towers know simply referred to like the wooden tower and the iron tower, used to be the intimidating towers acting as the defenders of Mainz. Raised in around 1200, its original Gothic designs were ravaged in the war but later restored in 1961. The two towers acted as the gatehouse, watchtowers as well as a prison for notorious criminals, to be guillotined later.
7. Roman Mogontiacum
Mainz’s predecessor on this land was this Roman stronghold founded by General Drusus in the 12-13th century BCE. There is obviously nothing left of the strategic military town that it was, but the remains stand. There is a Jupiter’s column, whom they worshipped, founder Drusus’s mausoleum and some remains of the old theatre and an aqueduct.
8. St. Christoph Church
The church was originally an early Gothic structure, built sometime between 1240 and 1330. It is now in complete ruins, but its structure still stands, and it houses the central war memorial of Mainz in memory of everyone the town lost in the World War II, especially in the several bombings that left the city shredded.
9. St. Augustine Church
Very uncannily, the baroque structure of St. Augustine is one of the few ones which were unaffected by the war. The interior of the church is plush and opulent with Rococo decorations, gilded stuccos and extensive fresco paintings of Augustine.
10. The Temple of Isis and Mater Magna
The ancient temples were discovered in around 2000s, with two shrines dedicated to the gods of the Egyptian pantheon. One is for Isis, the goddess of fertility, and Mater Magna, the Anatolian Mother Goddess. The temples were in use in the 3rd century. The interesting part of this temple is that though Mainz has always been under European ruler, many artefacts discovered within the temple are of African or Asian origin. It is now a shopping mall, but you can still see the remains of the temple in the museum.
11. St. Stephen’s Church
St. Stephen’s Church is among the biggest attractions of Mainz. Founded in 990, like most other structures, this too had Gothic and Baroque overlaying. Although the structure was destroyed in an explosion in 1857, and later took the brunt of the war, it was renovated in the later part of 1900. The blue windows of the choir, designed by Marc Chaggal, are of unparalleled beauty.
12. The Mainz Carnival
The carnival season in Mainz begins in November and continues till next spring. It all ends with the parade of Rose Monday in March. The festival is known for its larger than life celebrations and the presentations and set pieces that are made with a humorous take on current world affairs.
13. The Opal stadium
Though eclipsed by the more prominent German clubs like Bayern Munich and Stuttgart, the local team has been a constant presence in the Bundesliga since 2010. Their home ground Opal Stadium is a great place to witness German Club football if you are in luck. Otherwise, you can take the 90-minute multilingual tour of the stadium, the dugout, the dressing rooms and hospitality sectors they organize on ever Friday at 5 P.M.
14. Take a walk by the Rhine
The city of Mainz offers a great riverside walk from Neustadt or the ‘new city’ in the north to the railway bridge in the south that marks the southern end of the city. The promenade is dotted with food stalls and ice cream stands, and lawns with benches for you to sit and enjoy.
15. The Markt and Marktbrunnen
The square in the middle of the city, right around the cathedral was clearly the heart of Roman Mainz, and it still is. The market is there on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings. Other day, people walk around to spend their time around the Marktbrunnen or the Renaissance era market fountain of 1526.
With a history of more than 2000 years boring down on its ancient cobblestoned streets, Mainz is one of the places to be in Deutschland if historical places fascinate you. Mainz pulls thousands of travellers to the west bank of River Rhine where it meets Maine, to soak in its antique appeal.