Mainz, Germany: Book printing and Rhenish Carnival
Mainz is the state capital and, with 206,991 inhabitants, it is also the largest city in Rhineland-Palatinate. It is characterized above all by being the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese, the Johannes Gutenberg University and numerous television and radio stations – such as the ZDF and SWR. Mainz is also the center of the Rhenish Carnival. The name of the city goes back to the Roman name “Mogontiacum”, which refers to the Celtic deity Mogon. The city coat of arms shows two silver wheels against a red background; the colors of the city are white and red.
Location and structure
Mainz is located on the west bank of the Rhine, opposite the mouth of the Main. It is surrounded by numerous important cities such as Frankfurt am Main, Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Darmstadt and Mannheim. Neighboring communities are the Hessian capital Wiesbaden, Wackernheim, Bodenheim and Heidesheim am Rhein. Mainz itself is divided into 15 districts, which include Old Town, Neustadt, Hartenberg-Münchfeld and Oberstadt.
The history of Mainz
It has been proven that Mainz was a resting place for hunters as early as the last Ice Age. The first permanent settlements are of Celtic origin and go back to the second half of the first millennium BC. At that time the Celts were omnipresent on the Rhine. The Romans later used Mainz as a legionary camp. After the so-called Great Migration, the city gained more and more importance. Around 480 it came under Frankish rule, after which it was mainly used as a transshipment point for commercial goods. The development of the city resulted in its unique importance on a political, cultural and religious level. From here the Christianization of the East was carried out by Archbishop Bonifatius. During the time as the “Free City”, which lasted until 1462, the influence of the urban citizenry reached its peak. Trade and commerce flourished, so that Mainz became an economically important location. During the Thirty Years War, the city was captured by the Swedish army. Nevertheless, Mainz was able to recover quickly from the ravages of the war. In the emerging baroque era, magnificent buildings were built that still characterize the cityscape today. The Mainz Carnival, which developed from 1837 onwards, is also of immense importance. The city was spared from the Second World War until 1942. On February 27, 1945, Mainz was almost completely destroyed by incendiary bombs from British bombers. Today Mainz is a media city – an expansion that began in 1976. In the emerging baroque era, magnificent buildings were built that still characterize the cityscape today. The Mainz Carnival, which developed from 1837 onwards, is also of immense importance. The city was spared from the Second World War until 1942. On February 27, 1945, Mainz was almost completely destroyed by incendiary bombs from British bombers. Today Mainz is a media city – an expansion that began in 1976.
The cityscape of Mainz
The state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate is primarily characterized by a big city. However, some elements have also been preserved that are reminiscent of the medieval or early modern cityscape. The old town impresses with its half-timbered houses and winding streets that run around Augustinerstraße.
The town hall complex with the Rheingoldhalle and the Hilton Hotel as well as the ensemble of the New Armory, the Electoral Palace and the Deutschhaus are of particular importance for the cityscape. The Schillerplatz impresses with numerous baroque aristocratic palaces. Other significant buildings are the main train station, the Protestant Christ Church, the State Theater, the Rhine Bridge and the fortifications. The Mainz Cathedral should also be mentioned, which is the most important Romanesque building. Marvel at Marc Chagall’s blue windows there. Churches such as the St. Johannis Church and the Collegiate Church of St. Stephan bear witness to the city’s religious significance. The Electoral Palace, like the House of the Roman Emperor, which today houses the Gutenberg Museum, belongs to the “German Renaissance”.
In addition to the buildings already mentioned, Mainz impresses with its wealth of important museums such as the Gutenberg Museum or the Mainz State Museum, which houses a wide collection from the Stone Age to the modern age. There is also a large selection of libraries such as the Mainz City Library. Due to the special connection between the city and the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg, it has dedicated itself to both literature and the art of printing. Once a year, the Mainz Book Fair attracts numerous visitors who find a place to stay in one of the many hotels.
Events such as the Rose Monday parade in Mainz or the Open-Ear Festival in the citadel also attract numerous visitors to the city. Finally, the importance of the city for viticulture should be mentioned. Regional specialties are often served with the exquisite Rheinhessen wines.