The city of Mainz, founded as a Roman military post in the late 1st century BC, was an important strategic fort on the Rhine river in the Antiquity. Nowadays the city, situated on the west bank of Rhine, is the capital of the Rhineland-Palatinate state in Germany.
The remains of its Roman heritage could be seen in three museums in Mainz – the Romano-Germanic Central Museum that exhibits Roman, Medieval and earlier artifacts, the Museum of Ancient Seafaring where one could see remains of 4th century Roman boats and many Roman remains among which the Jupiter’s column, the mausoleum of Drusus, the ruins of the theater and the aquaduct.
It is a curious fact that until the 20th century Mainz was known in English as Mayence.
The city of Gutenberg – and carnival
The city is historically bound with Gutenberg, as it was there that the movable-type printing press was invented and the first printed books were manufactured in 1945. So naturally, among other worthy touristic attractions, the tourists are lured by the Gutenberg museum, where one could see not only the workshop of Johannes Gutenberg, but also four thousand years of the history of writing from all over the world.
Mainz is also one of Germanys carnival-centres, hosting one of the “big three” carnival-parades (alongside with Cologne and Düsseldorf). So in case you are around at that time, maybe you want to have a look?
Tourist attractions in Mainz
Once you have reached Mainz, you can explore this permeated with history city through its outstanding on-street cycling lanes. The city is part of the Rheinradweg (Rhine cycle route) – an international cycle route running from the source to the mouth of river Rhine and passing through four countries (the Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands) spreading over 1300 km and finishing by North Sea. In Mainz there is yet another interesting cycling path as well – a cycling tour towards Bingen that goes on to Middle Rhine, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.
In the Middle Ages the city, along with two other such in its proximity – Speyer and Worms, was a hub for Jewish culture and Talmudic scholarship.
Mainz boosts a whole 39 festivals and events throughout the year. Some of the most exciting events are Carnival and Mainz’s wine festivals. Mainz is actually a pretty big deal in the German wine industry, as it is referred to as one of the centres of Germany’s wine economy and is not only a hub for trading wine, but is also the seat of the German Minister of Wine. Mind you that Rhineland-Palatinate is the only province in Germany where due to the economical importance of wine there is such a department.
Like wine? Visit the House of German Wine then!
If you want to see more about the viniculture of the region where wine has been produced since Roman times, you can visit the tourist center The Haus des Deutschen Weines (English: House of German Wine) that is located near the theater. The building is the seat of the German Wine Academy, the German Wine Institute and the German Wine Fund. Wine lovers are aware that the Mainzer Winemarkt is one of the greatest wine fires that take place in Germany. This happens in the last weekend of August and the first weekend in September.
French influences on Mainz
Since Mainz was a political battleground throughout the ages, it bears traces of many conquerors, including the French. During the World War II the city was completely destroyed by bombing, which caused a massive construction boom in the years following the war. Rebuilding the city, however, happened at slow rates compared to the nearby Frankfurt, because the city was in the French influence zone after the war and the French wanted it to become a model city. In fact, the reviving of Mainz was in the hands of a French architect and town planner Marcel Lods who advocated a Le-Corbusier- style plan of an ideal architecture tending towards immateriality.
Main tourist-attractions of Mainz
The places worthy of seeing in Mainz are enough to keep you busy for several days. The cultural periods that have marked the city begin with the Roman relics that date 2000 years back, pass through the splendid Baroque buildings and have an open end with modernity. In the city center there is the Old Town where charming timbered houses and Baroque churches could be seen. Christian architecture is actually prolific and intriguing in Mainz and there are specimens of gothic, baroque and neo-renaissance churches and cathedrals.
If you want a customized individual or a group city tour, you can go to one of the many offices of Mainz Tourism.
The city offers recreation activities – you can jog in one of its many parks, treat yourself to a spa procedure or go to a nice fitness club. Mainz has also a brimming nightlife – there are cabarets, clubs and nightclubs for any taste. If you are interested in the culture of the city, you can find the opera, ballet and theater all at one place – the Mainz Staatstheater on Gutenberg-Platz. You can find other art performing venues in the Mainz Kammerspiele, Frankfurter Hof (cabaret-comedy), Alte Patrone, Unterhaus, Kulturzentrum Mainz and the Phoenix-Halle Mainz.
All in all, Mainz offers plenty of attractive things to do and if this beautiful city lying on the banks of the Rhine river is part of your cruise or is a preferred destination for a city break, you can definitely find all that you are looking for there, topped with some surprises.