Cities & Culture

Mainz: City of Gutenberg and Germany's wine capital

Mainz: Overlooking Mainz Cathedral ©DZT (Christof Herdt)

Mainz is famous for its university, its Roman heritage, its status as a media hub and state capital, and its three most defining features: the Romanesque cathedral, the Gutenberg printing press and the Rhineland carnival.

For more than 1,000 years, the city's skyline has been dominated by one building, Mainz Cathedral, one of the most important religious buildings in Germany, for which the foundation stone was laid in around 975 AD. In its shadows lie the Medieval and early modern districts of Mainz. The hustle and bustle centres around the twisting, narrow alleyways and the small shops, boutiques and cafés surrounding the pretty Kirschgarten square with its timber-framed buildings and Marienbrunnen fountain. Rheinhessen is the country's largest wine-growing region and the Weinmarkt is one of the city's three biggest festivals alongside carnival and St. John's Night, celebrated in remembrance of Johannes Gutenberg.

In contrast to the lively Old Town, the view of Mainz from the banks of the Rhine is somewhat austere. The Renaissance and Baroque periods are reflected in the New Arsenal, the Commandry of the Teutonic Knights and the Electoral Palace. The Gutenberg Museum on the printing press, the Romano-Germanic Central Museum and the Kunsthalle art gallery stand out as the best museums in Mainz. The latter features a sloped exhibition floor on a seven-degree incline. If you happen to notice this kind of imbalance in your own footing, it may well be down to the exquisite wines that the city serves. But that's not a bad thing, as you're sure to be in good company in Mainz.

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