Mainz is a German city on the Rhine River. It’s known for its old town, with half-timbered houses and medieval market squares. In the center, the Marktbrunnen is a Renaissance fountain with red columns. Nearby, a distinctive octagonal tower tops the Romanesque Mainz Cathedral, built of deep red sandstone. The Gutenberg Museum honors the inventor of the printing press with exhibits, including two of his original bibles.
The nice thing about visiting the wine capitals is that you get to enjoy the fine wines in an authentic atmosphere. Mainz has a wonderfully restored Old Town with a large number of traditional wine bars that serve regional delicacies such as the “Spundekäs” (a spicy creamed cheese) with Silvaner, Riesling, Dornfelder & Co.
Relax after a stroll through the city, take a break in a nice atmosphere at any time. Mainz has got more to offer than just wine.
On the outskirts of the Old Town you can find the 1000 year old Mainzer Dom (Mainz Cathedral) that combines different styles of architecture from Romanesque to Baroque. In front of the cathedral lies the picturesque “Marktplatz” (Market Square). The market is very popular with all locals and guests and takes place every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
Only a few steps away from the cathedral lies the Weltmuseum der Druckkunst (World Museum of Printing Art). This is not a coincidence: it is in Mainz where Johannes Gutenberg invented the letterpress. How did the press function? Find out during an interesting demonstration in the originally rebuilt “Gutenberg-Werkstatt” (Gutenberg-Workshop). Also typical for Mainz are: the Romans. Follow their traces by visiting the Isis und Mater Magna Heiligtum (Isis and Mater Magna Shrine), have a peek through the fence at the current excavations of the Amphitheater or visit the Museum für Antike Schifffahrt (Museum of Ancient Shipping).
Mainz is famous for its university, its Roman heritage, its status as a media hub and regional capital, and its three most defining features: the Romanesque cathedral, the Gutenberg printing press and the Rhineland carnival. The people of Mainz have good reason to be proud of their city’s history spanning almost 2,000 years. This rich cultural heritage incorporates a well-established wine-growing tradition, which only adds to Mainz’s appeal.
For over 1,000 years the city’s skyline has been dominated by one building, Mainz Cathedral. Towering majestically in its central location, the cathedral is one of the most important churches in Germany. Its foundation stone was laid in 975 AD under the aegis of Bishop Willigis. In its shadows lie the medieval and early modern quarters of Mainz. The hustle and bustle centers around the twisting, narrow lanes, with names such as Nasengässchen and Heringsbrunnengasse, as well as the many small shops, boutiques and cafés surrounding pretty Kirschgarten square with its romantic timber-framed houses and Marienbrunnen fountain.
In the evenings, one thing is plain to see: Mainz is Germany’s wine capital. Rheinhessen is the country’s largest wine-growing region, and a generation of young vintners are proving that they have what it takes to achieve extraordinary feats year after year. Locals enjoy the fruits of the winegrowers’ labors in cozy bars and taverns with pious names like Collection Box and Confessional. The Weinmarkt is one of Mainz’s three major festivals. It made its first post-war appearance in 1946, with the French occupying forces contributing a remarkable 100,000 litres of wine as a conciliatory and friendly gesture. The city’s other major festivals are carnival (we’re on the Rhine after all) and Midsummer’s Eve, a huge four-day fair that takes place at the end of June. Originally held in memory of Johannes Gutenberg, the fair today comprises a vibrant mix of music, traditional customs, variety entertainment, delicious food and, of course, wine.
It’s easy to while away a few afternoon hours in Mainz’s wine market at the cathedral square. On Saturdays, local farmers bring in an endless stream of regional and seasonal foods and wines.
One particularly wonderful time is August 25-28 and September 1-4, when the Mainz Wine Festival takes place. You can go from stand to stand trying different wines, enjoying music and perusing the crafts for sale.