Next stop is the city of Mainz. This city has a 2000 year old history that is intertwined with the Roman Catholic Empire. It was initially a city controlled by the Romans but after the fall of the Roman Empire, France took over during the French Revolution. At one point in time Mainz almost became a republic by itself but Germany did not want a democratic free state on their soil and Mainz reverted and remain a part of Germany till this day.
Mainzer Dom is located at historical center and market place of Mainz. It is a more than 1000 year old Roman Catholic Church of the bishop of Mainz. Having such a long history adds many interesting angles to its architecture. While it’s mainly a Romanesque cathedral, it also has elements of gothic and baroque added to it.
The cathedral has a relatively dark and gloomy feel and good pictures were pretty hard to take in that lighting given that I only had with me my point and shoot auto camera. Still, I try to convey the grandness and intricacies of this massive sandstone church. Every nook and every corner is filled with statues and carvings and colorful murals with overflowing details. It’s impossible to describe how magnificent it truly is.
It is in this very cathedral that monarchs of the kingdom of Germany during the middle ages were crowned as kings by the Archbishop of Mainz. And it is also in this same place that Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor at that time announced the support of the Third Crusade.
The interior of the cathedral houses tombs and funerary monuments of former powerful Kurfürst-Erzbischöfe (prince-archbishop). I’m may sound morbid but their sarcophagus are quite fascinating to me.
Outside the Mainz Cathedral of St. Martin is the pedestrianized market square of the city of Mainz. Where several interesting sculptures are found.
The whole concept and importance of Mainz history through intertwining relationships of bishops and kings can be seen in the many statues scattered all over the old parts of the city.
A quick lunch stop was in order before we head to the The Gutenberg Museum, dedicated to Johannes Gutenberg. Johannes Gutenberg is the inventor of the mechanical printing press and the museum exhibits an original Gutenberg Bible amongst many other printed books from the 15th century and later. Anyone who like me loves reading books, have him to thank for starting the revolution of the age of the printed books. I cannot imagine how life would be like if we had to rely on hand copy books.
St. Stephan zu Mainz (Church of St Stephan), is another amazing church and the 2nd most important in Mainz.
The church is in full gothic style and the most compelling thing for me in this church is the gorgeous stain-glass windows. The Chagall choir windows in St. Stephan are unique in Germany and the 9 stained-glass windows of scriptural figures in luminous blue depict scenes from the Old Testament, demonstrating to the commonalities across Christian and Jewish traditions. This is a very prominent statement considering the tensions of the jews in Germany’s WWII history.
I dedicated a little prayer offering to my family and love ones who I missed a lot on this trip. Especially since I only decided and notified them of my departure to Germany 6 hours prior to going to the airport. I guess most of my family and friends were a little shock by my sudden absence. I also missed out on celebrations on New Year Eve at Sushi’s place!
Another important theme and festival in Mainz is the carnival, the Mainzer Fassenacht.
Every year since the early 19th century, during the carnival months of Febuary and March, the people of Mainz celebrate with wine and costumes! And there are huge parades with street performances, many using the chance to ridicule the political figures of Europe.
This fountain which is turned off during the winter season, is placed in front of the headquarters of the Bundeswehr’s Wehrbereichskommando II ( German Armed Forces). It shows the carnival scene and at the bottom there is a man who’s washing his wallet after spending all his money at the carnival and a tom cat. A local told me that there’s a german expression which loosely translates into” the tom cat got you” meaning that you’ve got a hangover.
The River Rhine flows through Mainz as well and the river scene still takes my breath away.
If I had more time to spare… summer would be a good time to return to Germany and take a few days on the Rhine River. I could hop on and off different towns and village to discover new places rather than target all the bigger cities like how I’m doing it this trip.
he coat of arms of Mainz is derived from the coat of arms of the Archbishops of Mainz and features two six-spoked silver wheels connected by a silver cross on a red background.
Evening time was reserved for shopping and hiding out from the cold in cozy little restaurants. So I’ll leave you once again with a video instead.