Sitting at the confluence of the Rhine and Main rivers, Mainz is an attractive and pleasant German city with a history dating all the way back to Roman times. It was this key location that led to the Roman settlement in the 1st century with a Roman fort built. It was one of the most northern parts of the Empire at the time, and it is a city with plenty of historical importance in the fields of both religion and industry. For this reason, Mainz is often included on many Rhine river cruise itineraries, along with longer sailings which explore both the Rhine and the Danube via the Main River.
Mainz offers a number of landmarks and informative museums, along with plenty of places where you can enjoy a relaxed stroll at your leisure. Probably the most famous attraction in the city of Mainz itself is the Gutenberg Museum, which is dedicated to the work of Johannes Gutenberg, the man who invented the first moveable type printing press and who lived and worked in the city. The museum is home to replicas of the original printing press along with the print shops where Gutenberg worked, spawning successful printers across Europe. It also looks at the works of the Far East at the time in printing, and there are exhibitions on the future of print and electronic books. Another unique museum is the Museum fur Antike Schifffahrt, or Museum of Ancient Sea Travel, which is home to replicas of Roman warships from the fifth century, the construction of which have been based on actual salvaged wrecks.
It’s not just museums in Mainz of course. There are a number of churches offering interesting architecture, such as the Dom, otherwise known as St Martin Cathedral which has over 1,000 years of history and is home to a number of tombs of the city’s past archbishops. Though smaller, St Stephan’s Church is arguably more beautiful inside, thanks in part to its beautiful stained glass windows, while St Augustine’s Church is a hidden gem offering both a beautiful façade and baroque interior.
Also, be sure to take a look at the Theodor Heuss Rhine Bridge, an impressive structure built in the 1950s after the original was destroyed during the Second World War. Dating much further back in time, the Roman Aqueduct is but a ruin now but offers a fascinating look at the city’s Roman heritage and dates all the way back to the first century. A little outside the city itself lies another popular historic structure, Burg Sooneck. Once belonging to the Prussian Royal Family, this atmospheric castle is an informative place to explore and also offers some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
If you want to sample a local delicacy while in port, then try a little Spundekase; a cream cheese which is whipped with cream and served with a favourite German snack, the pretzel.