If you are planning a trip to Germany, then you should put Mainz on your wishlist. It is an old city located on the Rhine River in central West Germany with a population of about 200,000.
The architecture in Mainz is stunning, especially in the old town. The city is surrounded by colorful buildings and side streets laden with medieval market squares. You can wander around the beautiful town shopping for fresh flowers and local crafts. And if you are a fan of artifacts you can visit the historical Gutenberg Museum. Or you could even attend a mass inside the 1000-year old Mainz Cathedral.
If you like medieval architecture, German wine, and old printed works, Mainz is the place to visit. Furthermore, there are many other attractive spots for you to consider, and just on the other side of the Rhine, you’ll have even more things to do in the nearby city of Wiesbaden.
So, let’s check out the 12 best things to do when you are in Mainz.
12. The Museum of Ancient Ship Building
If you have questions regarding the art of ancient Roman seafaring, this is the place to go to. This boat-themed museum was opened in 1994 in a former covered market site in Neutorstrasse. The ships displayed inside the museum were discovered during construction works on the Rhine river.
You will get to see six full-scale replicas of the ships used by the Romans. From small boats to mighty cargo vessels, the exhibit will not disappoint you. And if you want to pick up a few tips on ancient shipbuilding, you can always visit the workshop.
The Mainz State Museum or Landesmuseum is another place you can visit during your trip. If you are a fan of art and history, you will find this place intriguing. It is located at the center of the city at Grosse Bleiche. It is famous for the art collections donated by Napoleon Bonaparte and Jean-Antoine Chaptal. Founded around 1803, it contains artifacts ranging from prehistoric to the present day.
Inside this museum, you can find exhibits displaying collections from the Medieval to the Renaissance era. Several stone-age and Egyptian relics can also be found here. It also hosts teaching events for visitors.
10. Mainz Marktplatz and Marktbrunnen
If you wander just outside the Mainz Cathedral, you will find yourself at the heart of Marktplatz. It is at this square where you will find the Mainz Cathedral and Gutenberg Museum. This market square was founded in the 10th century. And it served as the place for early trading activities in Mainz.
The Market Place is a must-visit if you are in Mainz, especially on Saturdays. Here, you can buy fresh farm products to beautifully crafted local ornaments. And located right across the Cathedral is the Marktbrunnen, a red sandstone Renaissance fountain. It was donated by elector Albert of Mainz. The square also hosts the famous annual Mainz Christmas Market. So, the festive season would be an excellent time for you to visit Mainz.
9. Temple of Isis and Mater Magna
If you are looking for archaeological sites in Mainz, pay a visit to the Temple of Isis and Mater Magna. You will find it in the Tanberna archaeological at the basement of Römerpassage. This temple dates back to the 1st until the 3rd century. It was discovered by chance during the construction of the Römerpassage shopping mall in 1999.
Inside the exhibit, you will find artifacts that provide insight into the Romans’ religious cults. Among the collections are Roman tablets, statues, oil lamps, and more. The discovery of chicken bones and dried fruits also hints at animal sacrifices and offerings.
8. St. Augustine’s Church
The church of St. Augustine is one place you would not want to miss out on your trip. If you are walking along Alstadt, Mainz’s old city center, you will stumble upon it. It was built from 1768 to 1771 at the site of a Gothic church. The church is one of the structures that survived the World War II bombings.
The church was designed in a Baroque style on the outside and Rococo on the interior. Once you are inside, the first thing that will catch your eye is the magnificent church ceiling. The pictures on the dome depict scenes from the Bible. The hall is surrounded by large windows and walls covered in rich ornamentation. You also get to see the famous Baroque organ from 1773, along with several murals and frescoes.
7. The Electoral Palace
Are you looking for more Renaissance architecture in Mainz? The Electoral Palace is one of the last examples of German Renaissance buildings of its kind. Built during the 16th century, it was the former residence of the Archbishop of Mainz. The palace was damaged during the World War II Bombings but was restored around 1948 to 1949.
Inside, you will find various items dating from the early Middle Ages and the Roman Empire. And if you go down the north wing, you will find the famous Function hall. This is where the annual Mainz carnival show “Mainz bleibt Mainz, wie es singt und lacht” was broadcast.
If you want to learn about the spirit of Carnival in Mainz, head down over to Schillerplatz square. Here, you will find the famous Carnival Fountain or Fastnatchsbrunnen. This nine-meter high bronze tower was designed and built by Blasius Spreng and Helmut Gräf in 1967. The fountain symbolizes the “Foolish season” or “Fifth season” in Mainz.
If you spend time observing the monument, you will see many grotesque figures from mythology and carnival. It contains over 200 figures such as Father Rhine, Till Eulenspiegel, and more. The infamous “Weck, Worscht un Woi” meaning “Rolls, Sausages and Wine” meal, is also represented in the fountain’s statues.
5. Natural History Museum Mainz
The Mainz Natural History Museum is the largest of its kind in Rhineland-Palatinate. It was founded in 1910, and its collections are dedicated to the natural history of Rhineland-Palatinate. Its collections date back to 1834 from the “Rheinische Naturforschende Gesellschaft,” a society founded to preserve the Natural history of Mainz.
The museum is home to exhibits of flora and fauna from various periods. Among the collections include specimens of the now-extinct plain zebras, java rhinoceros, and up to 700,000 insect specimens. It also boasts a vast array of animals and fossils from the Ice Age.
4. Mainz Citadel
The Mainz Citadel, or Mainzer Zitadelle in German, is located at the fringe of Old Town, near the Mainz Römisches Station. Built in 1660 atop the Jakobsberg hill, it is one of the few remaining modern-era citadels in Germany. The citadel provided shelter for the people of Mainz during World War I and World War II. The monument, as we see today, was developed around 1655 by prince-elector Johann Philipp von Schönborn.
In the present day, the citadel houses different municipal offices and cultural institutions. And along the southwest corner of the structure, you will stumble upon the Drusus monument. You can attend the annual Open Ohr Festival or enjoy an evening of music inside this fortress.
3. St. Stephan’s Church
At the top of the highest hill in the city, you will find the beautiful St. Stephan’s Church. You will admire its stained-glass windows, which is the work of late artist Marc Chagall. The church was built in 990 in a Baroque style, with gothic structures added later on. Like the Cathedral, it was heavily damaged during the World War II bombing and rebuilt between 1968 and 1971. The nine unique Chagall windows, inspired by the Old Testament, were added only recently between 1978 and 1985.
Besides the beautiful choir windows, you can also see a 13th-century altar table and a vast 16th-century tabernacle. It features a gothic hall and a large octagonal bell rising above the western choir.
2. Gutenberg Museum
If you are a fan of old printed works and printing techniques, be sure to visit the Gutenberg Museum. This grand structure lies opposite the Mainz Cathedral. It was founded in 1900 by a group of people in honor of Johannes Gutenberg. The museum was moved into the “Zum Römischen Kaiser” building in 1927.
Once you are inside, you will see galleries containing old printed materials, including two Gutenberg bibles. You can also see examples of old woodblock printing and learn about early printing techniques. The museum’s collection boasts bookplates, flyers, art books, and several printed graphics.
1. Mainz Cathedral
The most popular thing to do in Mainz is however this 1000-year old Roman Catholic cathedral, which is located in the Old Town.
It was built around 975 A.D and has had many renovations in the past. Although it is primarily Romanesque in style, we can see Gothic and Baroque designs as well. The building suffered some damages during the World War II bombing in 1942. But it has since been restored and remains stunning as it has always been.
Inside the Cathedral, you will find funeral tombs, gothic chapels, and various carved statues and religious art pieces. It is a must-visit as it looks stunning on the outside as well as on the inside.