Renowned for its boisterous pre-Lenten carnival, Roman heritage, and as the place where Gutenberg invented the printing press, Mainz occupies a strategic position at the confluence of the Rhine and Main rivers. The Old Town is compact and easily walkable and the city is also home to a prestigious university. Outside the limits lies an exciting wine scene.
What We Love
FSV Mainz 05: Founded in 1905, the city's professional soccer club is one of the nation's oldest and most celebrated. The team, which features many national squad members, plays in the 34,000-seat Coface Arena, one of the best places in Germany to catch a Bundesliga (pro league) game.
Gutenberg Museum: Two original Gutenberg Bibles — printed in this very city — are among the many treasures housed in this homage to the man who essentially invented mass communication.
Best Known For
Altstadt: Arrayed around the large square called the Markt, the Old City is filled with meticulously rebuilt and restored medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and rococo buildings.
Mainzer Dom: This thousand-year-old cathedral is one of the largest and most elaborate in Germany. It's so old that it is actually more Romanesque in style than Gothic. And the church is so large that it's dedicated to more than one saint — St. Martin and St. Stephen.
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Who It's Best For
Oenophiles: Surrounded by renowned grape-growing regions, Mainz is one of the hubs of the German wine industry. It is also a "Great Wine Capital."
Geography Buffs: Not only is Mainz at the junction of two great rivers, but it also lies at 50 degrees north latitude, the exact path delineated by a granite-and-brass strip across Gutenbergplatz (the square named for the inventor).
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Brrr: The fabulous balls and famous parade of the Mainz Carnival take place in the depth of winter rather than the city's sultry summer season.
Far Afield: It takes some effort and time to reach the region's celebrated vineyards and wineries, which are located well beyond city limits.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.