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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

THE ROVING REPORTER IN MAINZ

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This was my last day in Mainz before flying off to Athens.  So with Patrick as my tour guide we set off to see as much of the city as possible including some important churches and the famous Gutenberg Museum..  Mainz is the largest city and capital of Rhineland-Palatinate, with a population of about 200,000. It's located 40 kms NE of Frankfurt.  It was once the main ecclesiastical centre north of the Alps so there is a huge influence of old churches in the area.
Roman Temple of Isis
Originally the Romans had built at fort here and there are still Roman ruins in the city including the Temple of Isis located under one of the new shopping malls.  The city has beautiful architecture although much of the city was destroyed in WWII during bombing raids.

We went first to see the Church of St. Stephan which has magnificent windows by artist Marc Chagal.  We passed by the Gautor Gate in the upper city, a baroque gate from 1670 that was once part of the city wall. Then walked down to Schiller Square and the Carnival Square. (Frederick von Schiller was a writer and poet from the 19th century and there is a statue of him at the square.  The Carnival area is where the annual carnivals are held during the Rose Monday before Ash Wednesday.  The Mainz Carnivale is famous and began as a criticism of social and political injustice 

Church windows by Marc Chagal

From the Square you can see the area of Copper Mountain Terrace, a posh district where grapes are grown and made into sparkling wine.  Near here we stopped to visit the ruins of the Church of St. Christoph, a Gothic style church dating to the 9 century where Johannes Gutenbrg was probably baptized in the original 15th century baptismal font.

Early printing press, Gutenburg Museum


Then we went to the Gutenburg Museum, a history of the printed word, so an interesting place for me to visit.  I recalled my days as a copy-runner at the Sun when I used to run errands to the composing room and watch the printers setting the type for that day's newspapers.  Here you see the very earliest type setting machines and books that were published centuries ago including Gutenburg's first printed Bible.   It was in Mainz that  the first European books were printed using moveable type, from the early 1450's.

The immense Cathedral of Saint Martin is nearby (1000 years old)  built in Romanesque style.  It has six individual pipe organs inside all accessed from 1 large console. 

I had a wonderful visit in Mainz with Patrick as my knowledgeable tour guide.  There was lots more to see and do there but my time had come to an end and that afternoon we took the train to Frankfurt for my onward flight to Athens. 

NEXT;  "Home" again. Arriving in Athens.

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