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Trier: The Unesco World Heritage Site Porta Nigra (about 180 A.D.) © Bjoern Rudek

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1 City 5 Ways: Mainz

Another installment of my mini series called “1 City 5 Ways,” showcasing the surprising number of ways you can experience some of Historic Highlight of Germany’s magnificent cities.

Today's post focuses on Mainz, Historic Highlights of Germany's most wine-inspired city.


Mainz happens to be in the heart of the Rheinhessen region, Germany’s largest wine growing region. As such, it is Germany’s Wine Capital as well as one of the world’s recognized Wine Cities. So, not so surprisingly, the German Wine Institute is headquartered there. However, you may have also heard of Mainz as being a neighboring city to Frankfurt. Mainz has become one of Germany’s most popular stopover stay cities when flying in and out of Frankfurt because of its quick and easy DB connection to the airport. From Mainz, you can be at Frankfurt International airport within around 15 minutes. It has become a booming conference town for the same reasons. 

However, no matter what it is that brings you to Mainz, there’s truly no shortage of activities there for every traveler’s interest!


The Cyclist

Cycling a city really is a fun way to get around while also getting off of the main pedestrian paths to see even more of what makes a city tick. 
Mainz is a rather cycle-friendly city and recently introduced share bikes -- like the ones found in Paris and many other European cities -- that can be rented at bike stations throughout the city. If you drop the bike off at another bike station within 30 minutes, the ride is free. The rate is only about one Euro per half hour though if you go over the 30 minutes. So, it's a fun and affordable way to see the city. And it is great to combine walking portions of the day with biking portions, if you discover you are near one of the city's many bike stations. 

The Museum Hopper

There’s certainly no shortage of museums in Mainz.

A starting point for any museum tour should most certainly be the Gutenberg Museum.  The “Man of the Millennium,” Johannes Gutenberg, lived in Mainz and created movable type (individual letters) for the printing press there, leading in large part to the industrialization of book printing. While you can learn all about printing history at this museum, a highlight of the museum is the display of the priceless Gutenberg Bibles. Less than 50 of these bibles remain in the world, and this museum is one of the few places in the world where these books – the first books printed with modern, movable type and considered to be among the most valuable books in the world -- are on public display.

As you tour around Mainz, you’ll discover various other museums and historic buildings (or historic ruins)
, many in the unlikeliest places. The area of Mainz was once another Roman stronghold. Another museum highlight is the Museum of Ancient Shipping where an Roman warship is on display after being discovered in the area.

The Treasure Hunter

Mainz has so many historical gems scattered throughout the city. For instance, inside a non-descript mall in the city center, you’ll find a Roman museum, as the foundations for Roman buildings were found and preserved right there. As you walk around the city, you might find mini monuments. For most of these small historical items around the city, there aren’t any signs pointing the way. In most cases, you just stumble upon them as you are walking around the city, as you notice a small plaque on the site, explaining its significance. It really is a bit like a treasure hunt going around the city. One of my favourite sites in Mainz is an
 ancient Roman theatre that was unearthed during the planning for a train station. Now, the modern train station exists alongside the excavated ruins, and the train station stop is aptly named "Roman Theater." 

The Wine Connoisseur

Rheinhessen region is known as "The land of 1000 hills. " Endless hours can be spent touring the region’s impressive wineries.

While there are too many choices to count, it’s worth checking out some of the area’s innovative wineries to really get to know what’s happening on the German wine scene.  This region has really been central to Germany’s rise in young vitners, known as “Generation Riesling.” Along those lines,
Raddeck winery is a multi-generational winery on the famous “red slopes” that has recently expanded as it has begun being managed by the youngest generation.  This is happening to many area vineyards as they get passed down to the younger generations, and these young owners are infusing great ideas and innovations into the wine growing traditions.  

At the end of the day touring vineyards, back in Mainz you can enjoy wine, food and friendly ambiance at a local-style “weinstuben” (wine house). Tradition is what these places are all about. They are often wood panelled, the room cast in low light. Some of these wine pubs have also been family run for generations. Weinhaus WilhelmiWeinhaus zum Spiegel and Weinhaus Michel are all great choices to end a day in Mainz.  At Weinhaus Michel, you can enjoy wine from its very own vineyard.

The Party Animal

Ah yes, Germans do enjoy themselves a good party…and the party of the year is Carnival.

…and Mainz is one of Germany’s “Carnival Capitals.” While Carnival takes place throughout Germany, the Carnival experience in Mainz is a highlight in all of Germany.

This is an all-ages, all-out party as Mainzers of all ages take to the streets, restaurants and pubs for six full days to “chase away the winter woes”…

On Rose Monday, Mainz hosts the region’s longest Carnival parade, stretching some 6.5 kilometres. There’s also Europe's biggest children's masked parade on Carnival Saturday. While partly political and satirical in nature, it’s basically just a fun six days in February when Germans have great fun dressing up in crazy costumes, being a little bit crazier and quirkier than their everyday selves and treating life like an ongoing party for a few days. In 2015, Carnival took place 14 - 17 February 2015.

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