|Mainz’s Market Square has been rebuilt to resemble Old World Germany.|
Mainz, founded by the Romans and today the modern capital of Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate, is a river port that surprises cruisers around every corner. Heavily damaged in World War II, the city rebounded and rebuilt with zest. Today, traditional and modern structures create an eclectic look.
River lines, such as AMA Waterways, Tauck, the Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and Viking River Cruises, to name a few, call at Mainz. Travel Agent was onboard Avalon Waterways’ Panorama for a Mainz call in May.
Tell clients that even if they don’t wish to stroll through town, they may walk along the seawall, taking in river sights and climbing up a slope to Town Hall Plaza, site of the City Hall building. Red flags add a bit of color to the one-of-a-kind gray 1970s structure.
Continuing across the square, visitors will see a six-story cream iron tower with orange trim, Eisenturm, built in 1240. Heading further into town, clients will spot the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, a medieval burghers hospital. Just steps away is the Mainz Tourist Information Centre, which has English-speaking staff and English maps and guides. Walking past it, one soon arrives at an area with brand name stores that sell the latest fashions, jewelry, accessories and household goods.
The highlight, though, is Market Square, a block or so away. The square is bordered by the magnificent cathedral and modern structures rebuilt to resemble Old World Germany. It is the place to stroll, watch people and enjoy a glass of wine or cup of coffee at a sidewalk café. If clients arrive on market day, the square will be teeming with activity. Vendors set up stands and local residents come here for fresh produce and flowers; one local delicacy is white asparagus.
Rising above Market Square, the brownish-red Cathedral of St. Martin is an imposing structure. Willigis, archbishop and archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, laid its foundation stone in 975. Seven kings were crowned there over the centuries.
A must-see site: A few blocks away is the romantic Kirschgarten or The Cherry Orchard, with original half-timbered, 17th-century houses.
Most river cruise tours take clients to the Gutenberg Museum, which boasts an amazing treasure vault with an original Gutenberg Bible. In the 1450s, in Mainz, Johannes Gutenberg printed the first European books via the new “movable type” method. Clients on guided river cruise tours are treated to a demonstration of how the process works; one lucky tour-goer takes home the printed document, a nice souvenir.
Other Mainz options: Art lovers may head for St. Stephen’s with its glowing blue stained-glass windows created by artist Marc Chagall. Museum lovers may wish to check out The Landesmuseum, one of Germany’s oldest museums, or the Museum of Ancient Sea Travel, which displays the remains of six Roman shipwrecks salvaged from the Rhine in the 1980s. But best of all, Mainz is a city to wander. Its Old Town has alleys with such quirky names as Little Nose Way or Corpse Yard. Anywhere you turn, Mainz delights.