The state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate is best known for being the home town of Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the modern printing press. The history of Mainz dates back to Roman times, when it was founded as a military post in late first century BC. It was also the Romans who introduced wine growing to the area. Nearby, numerous wine taverns invite visitors to spend a relaxing evening enjoying local wine. Mainz is only a short drive from Wiesbaden, the state capital of Hesse, and Frankfurt, making it the perfect place to spend a long weekend and to explore the different cultural specialties of the regions.
Things to see and to do:
St Martin’s Cathedral
Construction for the Roman Catholic cathedral started more than 1000 years ago in 975 but a fire on the day of its consecration in August 1009 severely damaged the new building and made further construction work necessary. In the course of the centuries, the cathedral was impaired by fire six more times. Nevertheless, the embroidered interior of the cathedral, the multiple tombs and the central courtyard attract thousands of visitors each year. The church of predominantly Romanesque style adds to the city’s character and has shaped its history.
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Mainz is one of the strongholds of Carnival along with Cologne and Düsseldorf in the rhenish carnival tradition. The highlights of the so called ‘fifth season’ take place during Ash Wednesday and Shrove Tuesday when the city turns into one colourful party with costumes, music and parades. Carnival in Mainz also has a strong political component and the carnival orators and floats often address current political affairs.
www.mainzer-fastnacht.de (in German only)
Farmer’s market and market breakfast
Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday the farmer’s market takes place on Liebfrauenplatz where you can buy local and regional produce. Seasonal vegetables, fresh fruit, dairy products, spices or meat – whatever your heart desires, you will probably find everything you need for a home-cooked meal. From April to November on Saturdays local vintners offer a market breakfast where you can try new flavours of wine and also enjoy sausages, bread and other specialties.
Johannisnight is one of the biggest public festivals in Mainz during the summer. It takes place in the city centre and along the Rhine promenade. It is not only a fair with street music, food and wine, but also closely connected to Johannes Gutenberg and the printing press. There are multiple events happening throughout the fair that act as a reminder of the printer’s art, for example the christening of the printers or the book market, where you can buy second-hand literature. The event concludes on Monday night with a big firework.
More information: (in German only)
St Stephen’s might not be as big as St Martin’s Cathedral but it is still a very special place, containing 177 square metres of stained glass created by artist Marc Chagall. Light shining through the glowing blue stained glass creates a mystical atmosphere inside the Gothic church. Almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, it is now the only church in Germany for which Chagall designed windows.
More information in English: