Exploring the culture of Mainz, Germany
The city of Mainz along the Rhine River in West Germany features the Johannes Gutenberg Museum and University, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, and Schillerplatz.
I studied abroad at the Johannes Gutenberg University in their political science department. Although the city is packed with history, the best part of the city is walking from the cafe to a riverbank. The city hosts many large events throughout the year, all of which I was not able to experience due to limited time.
The friends who visited said their favorite parts included the Mainzer Dom, the Irish pubs, and the Weinmarkt (Wine Market).
The Mainzer Dom is a grand cathedral built during the time of Johannes Gutenberg. In the photo attached, the outside of the Mainzer Dom can be seen from the river Rhine. The inside has been restored to the intended greatness of the original builders.
The Dom is built using red clay bricks from the region. This building technique can be found all over the Altstadt (old town) area of Mainz. The architecture of the Altstadt is my favorite area of the city. My favorite German-themed restaurant is located here. The couple who owned this restaurant became my close friends. They even gave me my last meal free.
On the weekends, local farmers and vineyards sell their recent harvest. During this time, my friends and I visited to purchase local wines and produce for our weekly meals.
You can buy fresh fish from the river for lunch from the fisherman himself, along with a glass of the region’s famous Reisling. The Reisling from this region is so popular, a nice bottle costs less than 3 euros, or less than 4 U.S. dollars from the grocery store.
The fresh produce at the market costs less than the equivalent here in Mississippi due to the lack of investment on behalf of the farmer to travel into the city. The picture included is of my friends and me from the U.S. and Turkey at the first wine market of the summer.
Although the access to produce and good wine was a perk, my favorite part was brunch at a local cafe followed by a walk down at the river. My best memories from the whole semester involved spending time at the river Rhine with my friends, new and old.
The street signs are painted red or blue to indicate which direction the Rhine lies. These signs date from Roman times when the fire brigade needed to get to the river quickly for water.
The signs make it easy to navigate the direction you are walking even if you are unfamiliar with the area. The ability to walk everywhere was incredible. It is not like anywhere in the South where you need a car to get everywhere. Most of the cities are accessible with public transportation making travel a breeze.
The landscape surrounding Mainz includes rolling hills, flatlands around the city, and river views in most places. These views can even be seen from the Opel Arena where the local professional Fußball team plays.
I watched the men’s German National Team play the men’s Estonian National Team. The German national team scored five goals. It was a great experience to be a part of a winning crowd.
After the game, there were bands and organized chants under the stands to celebrate the victory. Although it is rare for the Germans to show excessive national pride, sporting events generate it.
Before I left Mainz, I returned to all of my favorite places. I visited the oldest ice cream shop in the city. I went to Johannisnacht (a festival/ large party to celebrate Mainz’s history), had drinks at my favorite Irish pub, and saw one last performance at the Staatstheater.
These unique experiences can only be found in smaller cities in Germany. German operas and plays are performed in addition to English language productions.
The region offers many opportunities for day trips if the city becomes boring. One can easily visit Bonn, Heidelberg, or Wiesbaden after a short journey by train.
But the weekend culture, the active university life, and the relaxed nature of the people make Mainz the ideal place to visit, study or live. I would recommend the city to anyone who wishes to spend a weekend, or even a semester, seeing one of the most beautiful areas in Germany.