Traveling to Mainz, state capital of Rhineland Palatinate, located in the southwest of Germany? It has long been the civilized capital of the region, with Romans choosing this location at the confluence of the Rhine and the Main rivers to build a cathedral around 38 BC. Since that time, the city has continued to develop and offers everything from wine festivals and river cruises, to cathedrals and museums. Here are the best things to see and do in Mainz.
Looking for a place to stay? Hotels in Mainz
Mainz’s most famous resident was Johannes Gutenberg, the most important individual in the last millennium (according to Time magazine). Gutenberg revolutionized communication by inventing the moveable type printing press in the 15th century – it was the beginning of the Information Age as we know it.
The Gutenberg Museum in Mainz is dedicated to the world of printing and its highlight is an original Gutenberg bible. You can also see reconstructions of print shops and Gutenberg's hand press, as well as precious medieval manuscripts and book art from all over the world.
Address: Liebfrauenplatz 5, 55116 Mainz
Over the roofs of the Old Town rises the six-towered Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mainz, one of the most important Romanesque structures along the Rhine. The 1000-year old cathedral was originally built in the Romanesque style, but over the last centuries, many other architectural elements have been added to the building, like Gothic windows and Baroque stone design.
The cathedral, located in the heart of the city, is a great starting point for a walk through the Old town, where you can still find some timber-framed buildings. Look out for the Marktbrunnen, one of the largest Renaissance fountains in Germany.
If you visit on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday there is an open-air farmers’ market.
Address: Markt 12, 55116 Mainz
Dating back to the 14th century, the Meenzer Fassenacht carnival takes place every year in early spring (40 days before Easter). Mainz puts up many colorful costume balls, and the highlight of the festivities is the traditional Rose Monday Parade. Tens of thousands of locals and visitors flank the sidewalks to watch marching bands, dancers, and elaborately decorated floats, which often display caricatured figures mocking politicians and other personalities.
Another church worth visiting is St. Stephan zu Mainz, the Gothic St. Stephan’s Church. It is famous for its ethereal stained glass windows which were created by the Russian Jewish artist Marc Chagall between 1978 and 1985. The luminous glass windows in different hues of blue depict scenes from the Old and New Testament. Besides being a masterpiece of glass art, the soaring windows carry a political message as well: Chagall wanted them as a monument of reconciliation between Jews and Christians.
Address: Kleine Weißgasse 12, 55116 Mainz
Head down the Rhine river banks and enjoy the relaxed pace of the city. You can take a walk along the promenade, sunbathe in one of the parks along the water, or enjoy a glass of wine in a restaurant by the river. Or take a cruise ship and explore the Rhine region. There are many tours to Bonn, Koblenz, or Cologne departing from Mainz.
Mainz celebrates the wine season with its annual Weinmarkt ("wine market"), which takes place in the city’s picturesque parks and rose gardens. Wash down your local fare with light white wines and rosés, then wander the parks and enjoy arts and crafts stands, music, and rides.
The Mainz State Museum is one of the oldest museums in Germany. It is dedicated to the rich culture and history of the city and its region; the collection includes exhibits from the prehistoric period, the Roman period, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, prints and drawings from the 16th - 20th century, Dutch painting, 18th century porcelain, 19th century painting, city history, Art Nouveau glass and 20th century art.
Address: Große Bleiche 49 - 51, 55116 Mainz