I had a unique opportunity to visit Mainz, Germany to visit friends and take in the sights as enjoyed by the locals. As a city, Mainz seems fairly unremarkable and is really not all that populous: According to Wikipedia the city has a head count of just over 200k. Which brings us to the first interesting thing about Mainz:
#1 – Mainz Is Just About 2 Millennia Old
It is interesting to think that Mainz actually started off as a Roman stronghold around 12 B.C.E., and has a number of Roman ruins to tell the tale. That’s over 2000 years of history. In fact, one may swing by the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre right there in town at a train station – Mainz South. There are also ruins of Roman aqueducts and other wonderful bits and bobs for those historically inclined.
#2 – It Was Completely Wrecked
Now, for a city that’s been continuously inhabited for over 2000 years, one might expect it to have its fair share of charmingly old structures. Unfortunately, the rather efficient air raids back in the Second World War took down over 80% of the structures, even as General Patton gladly marched through the historic (and very strategic) path through Germania Superior into the heart of the German war machine of that time. One may still find plaques inlaid into the streets, marking the approximate previous residences of those who perished in the air raids.
#3 – Home Of The Gutenberg Printing Press
Not all is gloom and doom, however. The home of the venerable Gutenberg press (you who are reading this have those guys to thank, that we are literate to this day) was celebrated by residents by the establishment of a museum back in 1900. For those interested, amongst its recent acquisitions was a Gutenberg bible, which is quite a piece of printed literary history.
#4 – There Are Many Castles (And Ruins)
Mainz has a long history, and consequently a fine lineage of castles lining the Rhine, which runs through the city. Apparently so numerous are these structures that the Germans have a word for people who feel as I do – Ruinenlust (The excitement of enjoying ruins). One may take the boat down the river from Cologne down to Mainz aboard the KD Rhine-Cologne service, and enjoy the sights of the castles at leisure.
#5 – The Festive Markets
For such a small city, one may be inclined to think that Mainz would be somewhat sleepy. And it is, inasmuch as one would see it if one were used to a big capital city in any developed country. One way that Mainz hits well above its weight is in its festive markets, which start sometime in Spring and show up in force in its rather nice Christmas markets. Well worth a visit!
Bonus Area -Rüdesheim am Rhein
Most who come to Mainz will have heard of the Old Town, and it is indeed a charming neighbourhood with the standard Bavarian half timbering that is oh so iconic of German architecture.
What many probably do not mention is that little town along the Rhine known as Rüdesheim am Rhein, with its quaint narrow streets and being somewhat less commercial. One should not miss visiting the Benedictine Abbey of St Hildegard or take the cable car up to the iconic Niederwald Monument to the foundation of the German Empire.
That said, I hope you guys enjoy the photos from the trip, and special thanks to Elaine for having me over and bringing me around!