Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

We found Mainz to be the perfect getaway spot for a few days in between family visits in the UK – a sort of extended mini city break. We like towns that, whilst having plenty of amenities and connections, are not overwhelmingly large and Mainz with approximately 200,000 residents fitted the bill perfectly.

 

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A university town, Mainz is pleasantly situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Main rivers (on the opposite bank from their precise meeting point). If you come by train, as we did from Frankfurt am Main, you suddenly realise that you have rivers on both sides of you as the smaller Main opens up to merge with the wide expanse of the Rhine River.  Mainz is the capital of the Rhineland-Palatinate Region close to its border with Hesse (another one of the sixteen German federal states or Bundeslaender). Wiesbaden, which lies on the opposite side of the river to Mainz is the state capital of Hesse whilst Frankfurt am Main is its largest city.

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Not surprisingly Mainz has been a strategically important town for centuries. Named Mogontiacum by the Romans it served as a military fortress on their northern borders and was the provincial capital of Germania Superior. Coming into Mainz by train you pass through Mainz Römisches Theater station, which runs adjacent to the remains of what was once the largest Roman theatre north of the Alps. The ruins were excavated during construction of the railway station in the late 19th century and one of the guidebooks I bought said that the trains now run through part of the original stage! 

Later Mainz became the seat of the powerful Archbishops of Mainz (the archbishopric was established in 747 AD) who were both secular and political leaders as well as religious ones. By the Middle ages the Archbishops of Mainz were Electors of the Holy Roman Empire – their status and wealth was considerable and you can see their legacy in the imposing presence of St Martin’s Cathedral , which towers over the main market square (currently like so many old buildings undergoing restoration work). I’ll cover our visit to the cathedral and its treasury in another post to follow.  I don’t know any of the people in the photo below though!

 

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We were staying in the AC Mainz Hotel near the Hauptbahnhof (see here for my last post) and it was about a twenty minute leisurely walk into the Altstadt or Old Town, which is the main hub of any old European town or city.  Along the way to the town centre we had passed by the memorial statue to one of the town’s most famous sons, Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the typesetting press and printer of the Gutenberg Bibles (more about him in another post – as you can see Mainz is a treasure trove of history). The photo below contains the curious juxtaposition of the statue against a background in the bottom corner of the McDonald’s golden arches – not sure what Gutenberg would have made of that!

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Our first full day in Mainz was a Saturday and the town was bustling with locals doing their shopping at the thrice weekly markets held in the picturesque main square (see here for more details).

The town square is surrounded by colourful historic buildings, most of them beautifully restored following the Allied bombing raids in World War Two when about 80% of the town centre was destroyed. I read that after the war different areas chose alternative paths for building restoration with some going for a more modern appearance (such as Frankfurt am Main) but Mainz preferred to restore the buildings to their traditional historical look. They would have been the homes of wealthy merchants back in the day.

 

 

With spring officially in the air (despite the bitter cold on that particular Saturday) the stalls were overflowing with an abundance of beautiful white asparagus (Weisser Spargel) and juicy strawberries (Erdbeeren). It wasn’t all just asparagus and strawberries though – there was an enormous selection of other fruits, vegetables, fresh flowers, wines, preserves and pestos, produce such as eggs including painted ones. One stall wishing to assure their customers of the freshness of their eggs had their wares being “advertised” by a slightly bemused looking hen. The inscription as far as I can tell reads, “Keine Angst vor Salmonellen im Ei” – literally “have no fears about Salmonella in the egg”.

 

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We actually visited the market a couple of times on both the Saturday and Tuesday (the other market day is Friday) so the following photos are a selection of our two visits.

 

 

It did warm up a bit by the following Tuesday but on that Saturday it was about five degrees maximum with a biting wind so after a quick stroll along the river in the rain, we hightailed into the nearby Messe (Conference Centre) and ate a hearty lunch to warm ourselves up along with sampling a couple of the local drinks too!

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

14 thoughts on “Mainz – Exploring the Altstadt and Markets

  1. restlessjo says:

    It does look cold, but you’ve got some great shots of the market stalls. I can never do that! 🙂 🙂 Happy weekend to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jo – I went a bit crazy with the market stall photos! I could have wandered round there for hours and I can’t even capture the beautiful scents especially from the flower stalls. Of course you can try out the produce too 🙂 It must be lovely at Christmas market time – on the wish list! Enjoy your weekend X 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Last I was in Mainz, it was for a Christmas market. Lovely place! This brings back great memories for me, and looks like it was a lovely trip for you all. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome and glad to bring back happy memories. We loved Mainz and the whole Rhineland area. Would love to go to the Christmas markets there it would be magical! 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gilda Baxter says:

    Very interesting place and wonderful market. Did you get to practice your language skills?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I did a lot of language practice Gilda – spoke German whenever I could ! It was strange when we came back to London after 6 days as I kept wanting to talk in German but obviously that wouldn’t have worked! Mainz is a fascinating place with such an interesting history and I always love visiting markets wherever I am in the world! I visited your blog and read all your recent posts yesterday then tried to put some comments up but it said there was a technical issue 😦 I tried again so not sure if my comments got through or not – will take another look but if my comments won’t post again I wanted to say how spectacular the scenery is in Norway. I’m amazed by all your adventures and enjoying your posts very much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gilda Baxter says:

    Thanks for letting me know about the technical issues messages. I did get your comments and will respond soon. We are arriving back in England tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem at all Gilda – it’s just when you leave a comment it sends it but then says “the site is experiencing technical difficulties”. Later when you check the comments are there! No rush to reply – it must be strange coming home after so long on the road!

      Like

  5. margaret21 says:

    What a lovely place. You’ve certainly whetted my appetite.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Margaret – the whole area is beautiful and not always a place people think of for a holiday. Mainz had a relaxed easy feel to it even though it is a reasonably sized town. There are some riding and walking trails too round the river and the history is fascinating 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. margaret21 says:

        We weren’t so very far away from there last year, in Würzburg and area. Wonderful scenery, trails, history …. and hardly any tourists!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sounds like our sort of place! I have heard of the Würzburg area and believe it is very pretty – I will check it out! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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