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Herzlich Willkommen: A Tour of Mainz

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Founded around 12 BC as a Roman military post, Mainz is a gem of a city sitting on the Rhine River with a rich history and vibrant present.  As with any city, it’s character is determined by its inhabitants.  And Mainz has had a lot of interesting ones.  Fist the Romans, of course, then the Franks, the Germans, and, perhaps most famously, the inventor of moveable type, Johannes Gutenberg, whose name now graces the gates of the city’s university. From 1919 to 1930, following WWI, the city was occupied by French military forces.  This French occupation was the fuel for much of the city’s Carnivale (or Fasching) traditions mocking political figures (and the French military) that continue today and make up the most famous Fasching parade in Germany next to Cologne’s.  During WWII, about eighty percent of this beautiful city was destroyed by air raids. Fortunately for us all, the city’s former charm lives on in the restored buildings of the Altstadt (old town).  After the war, the city was once again occupied by the French from 1945-1949.  Today, it’s home to the Fußball-Bundesliga team, FSV Mainz 05 – that’s soccer for all the Americans out there.  More importantly, in my opinion, it’s home to several excellent winemakers and host to a multitude of wine festivals.  S and I plan to take full advantage of those this summer!  It also happens to be one of the centers of Germany’s wine trade and home to the Rhineland-Palatinate wine minister.  How does one get that job? Sign me up!

For now, Mainz is also home to me and S.  It’s where we explore German cuisine in the local restaurants and weinstubes, learn about German culture from the incredibly friendly locals, and walk along the Rhine, taking in the magnitude of our luck in having this experience.  Mainz has a slogan that it puts on posters advertising events around town: Ich mag mein Mainz.  I love my Mainz.  And we do.

If you’d like, please join me on a mini tour of this charming city:

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The Dom.

Dominating the skyline and commanding center stag of the Altstadt, is the Mainzer Dom, also known as the Cathedral of St. Martin. The Dom is over 1,000 years old and the episcopal see of the Bishop of Mainz. Much of the cathedral, except for the vault, was destroyed during WWII, but, as you can see, it has been fully restored and now serves as the striking backdrop to the city’s major festivals and the thrice-weekly market.

The Dom, again.  It never gets old.  But seriously, it's over 1,000 years old.

The Dom, again. It never gets old.

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The Dom again.

The Saturday market.

The Saturday market.

 

More of the Saturday market.  I really can't get enough of it.

More of the Saturday market. I really can’t get enough of it.

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These beautiful buildings line the Marktplatz, face the majestic Dom, and are the back of our apartment building.

The front of our apartment building.  Apparently, this design was not popular with the locals when it was first built…but it's very popular with the pigeons….

The front of our apartment building. Apparently, this design was not popular with the locals when it was first built…but it’s very popular with the pigeons….

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The sun shines on Mainz.

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The bridge to Mainz-Kastel.

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Spring sales!

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The mighty Rhine.

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Beautiful old houses line the Rhine.

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Twilight cruise down the Rhine.

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Walking, running, and biking trail along the Rhine.

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Tuesday market.

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A memorial commemorating the post-WWII divided Germany.

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Our picnic on the Rhine: salad, quiche, and Spanish wine.

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A picnic on the Rhine.

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Wiesbaden golf course.  Not Mainz, but S and I played there recently and I love this view.

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Door to St. Quintin’s, where Gutenberg is allegedly buried.

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A fountain paying tribute to Fasching. And my classmate, Taka.

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A former Sekt cellar. Too bad it’s former…

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St. Stephan’s cloistered garden.

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The Zitadelle was constructed in 1660 as a military fortress. It was utilized by the French during both occupations and today houses government offices.

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One of many farm fields in Mainz-Kastel.

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Painting hanging in the Mainz Rathaus. Mainz, August 1942.

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One of many fairs that set up along the Rhine as soon as the weather gets nice.

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The view of Mainz-Kastel from Mainz.

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The view of Mainz from Mainz-Kastel.

 

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Wandering around town on a beautiful day. I loved this shop sign.

 

We took full advantage of the Best of Mainzer Winzer tasting.  Swing by the Saturday market for their tent during warm weather months!

We took full advantage of the Best of Mainzer Winzer tasting. Swing by the Saturday market for their tent during warm weather months!

 

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Standing guard on the Rhine

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St. Peter’s

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Madonna and Child

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Bombed during the war, now a tribute to peace.

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The Dom

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Prayer candles, Augustian Church

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Augustinian Church

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Augustinian Church

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Augustinerstraße – the pedestrian walkway through the Altstadt.

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Cellar door

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Ivy

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I love a well placed Madonna and child, and this building.

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That is so cool.

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Beautiful old buildings abound in Mainz. Even above a little brew pub.

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Never too far from the Dom.

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Gutenberg’s influence lives on with this book binder.

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Windows by March Chagall, St. Stephan’s Church

St. Stephan’s Church was built in 990, in honor of the widow of the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto II. Largely destroyed during WWII, it was restored and now is host to nine stained glass windows created by famous Russian-French artist Marc Chagall between 1978 and 1985. The windows depict scenes from the Old Testament, including common traditions in the Christian and Jewish faiths. Chagall himself was Jewish and fled France during the Nazis invasion. He intended these windows to be a symbol of reconciliation between Germany and the Jewish people.

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A Chagall window from the outside. It’s amazing what a change of perspective can do. Seeing it from the inside is a must.

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St. Stephan’s

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Mainz remains a heavily Catholic town.

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View from up high. It’s amazing how far you can see when the winter fog clears!

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The door to the city! The ruins of a 4th century Roman wall.

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Part of the old city wall.

 

I hope you enjoyed the tour!  What’s your favorite German city?

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Posted by

I'm an American living in Mainz, Germany and, after a a one-year sabbatical from office life, working as a corporate lawyer in Frankfurt. While living in Europe with my fiancé, my goals are to see as much art, taste as much food, and experience as much life as possible.

5 Comments Join the Conversation

    • Thanks, Erica! It is such a beautiful city and I’m only just beginning to explore outside of the Altstadt. Thank goodness for warm and sunny weather! It’s going to be a great summer!

      Reply

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