The state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate is best known for being the home town of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the modern printing press. The history of Mainz dates back to Roman times, when it was founded as a military outpost in late first century BC. It was 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 specialities of the region.
Things to see and do
Construction of the Roman Catholic cathedral began 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 damaged by fire six more times. Today, the intricate interior of the cathedral, the numerous tombs and picturesque central courtyard attract thousands of visitors every year.
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 on Ash Wednesday and Shrove Tuesday when the city turns into one colourful party, awash 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.
Johannisnight and Gutenberg
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. Various events are held throughout the fair that act as a reminder of the printer’s art, such as the ‘baptism’ of the printers or the book market offering second-hand literature. The event concludes on Monday night with a big firework display.
Named ‘Man of the Millennium’ by the Sunday Times, Gutenberg’s legacy is honoured throughout Mainz.
The Gutenberg Museum founded in 1900 is home to two original 15th century Gutenberg Bibles as well as a reconstruction of Gutenberg’s workplace and demonstrations of how printing presses were operated during the 15th century.
Visitors wanting to discover more about Gutenberg can go on a city walk ‘in Gutenberg’s footsteps through Mainz.
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.
Farmer’s market and market breakfast
Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday the farmer’s market takes place on Liebfrauenplatz, offering local and regional produce. Seasonal vegetables, fresh fruit, dairy products, spices or meat — whatever your heart desires, you’ll probably find everything you need for a delicious 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.
British-German Town Twinnings
Town twinnings between British and German cities play an important role in promoting cultural exchange. Mainz has been twinned with Watford in Hertfordshire since 1956.