Mainz has been grounded by the Roman general Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus as a castrum, a military defensive camp, as early as 13-12 BC. Its Roman name Mogontiacum appears to be Celtic, the name "Mainz" is believed to be a simplification of Mogontiacum. Around this camp arose over time a civilian settlement with town character which from about 80 AD was the capital of the newly created province Germania Superior (Upper Germany). Among the famous buildings in Mogontiacum were the largest theater north of the Alps. Remains of Roman troop ships from the late 4th century may now be viewed in the Museum für Antike Schifffahrt. From the last days of 405 or 406, the Vandals and other Germanic tribes crossed the Rhine, possibly at Mainz. In 451 Atilla destroyed Mainz with its Roman garrison. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the Franks under the rule of Clovis I gained control over western Europe by the year 496. Clovis annexed the kingdom of Cologne in 508. Thereafter, Mainz, in its strategic position, became one of the bases of the Frankish kingdom.
In the early Middle Ages, Mainz was a centre for the Christianisation of the German and Slavic peoples. The Archbishops of Mainz traditionally were primas germaniae, the substitutes of the Pope north of the Alps. On the death of Charlemagne in the year 814, the grounder of the Holy Roman Empire, distinctions between France and Germany began to be made. Mainz was on the border. During the whole its history the city was several times French, which explains its unique cultural character. Remains of the French language and culture can be found in Mainz even today.
Friedrich I. Barbarossa in the year 1184 organised Pentecost festival in Mainz. More than 40,000 Knights moved to Mainz. Practically all the rulers and spiritual elite of the empire was attended by, among others, the Dukes of Bohemia, Austria, Saxony, the Count Palatine of the Rhine and the Landgrave of Thuringia and the Archbishops of Trier, Bremen and Besançon and the bishops of Regensburg, Cambrai, Liege, Metz, Toul, Verdun, Utrecht, Worms, Speyer, Strasbourg, Basel, Constance, Chur, Würzburg, Bamberg, Münster, Hildesheim and Lübeck.
The Archbishop of Mainz Diether von Isenburg established the University of Mainz in 1477, which existed until 1798. The Pope, who had to approve such facilities, endowed the university with the same privileges as Cologne, Paris and Bologna. After the Second World War, the university was established again in 1946 as the Johannes Gutenberg University. Today in the building of the Old University is located the Institute of European History.
Nowadays Mainz is one of the centers for wine trade and the seat of the state's wine minister. The federal state Rhineland-Palatinate is the only state in Germany to have such a department.
Dom zu Mainz (Sankt Martin Cathedral). At the end of the 10th century the city of Mainz flourished economically. The Archbishop of Mainz Willigis became one of the most influential politicians of that time, he even was regent of the empire between 991 and 994. He ordered the construction of a new cathedral, which has been inaugurated in 1009. This new building was part of Willigis's vision of Mainz as the "second Rome". Mainz Cathedral is considered one of the three Kaiserdome ("Emperor's Cathedrals") of the Holy Roman Empire, along with Worms Cathedral and Speyer Cathedral.
Chagall Windows, a magic of blue light. Between 1978 and 1985, Marc Chagall created nine stained-glass windows of scriptural figures in luminous blue in the Sankt Stephan Church. Chagall, who became a honorary citizen of Mainz, but never got to know the city, completed his final window shortly before his death at the age of 97.
The Gutenberg-Museum is one of the oldest museums of printing in the world, located opposite to the Dom zu Mainz. It is named after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing from moveable metal type in Western Europe. The first books has been printed in Mainz in the 1450s. The collections include printing equipment and examples of printed materials from many cultures.
If you like to have a day trip out of Mainz on Sunday, 11th September, here are some suggestions:
Roman Villa in Bad Kreuznach from the 2nd century. Among other objects, the exposition includes two large area mosaic floors, which are counted as one of the most significant finds north of the Alps. You can reach Bad Kreuznach by train from the Mainz Hauptbahnhof in approximately half an hour.
Rüdesheim am Rhein is an old winemaking town on the Rhine's right bank. In the medieval core of the city there are a lot of historic timber-frame houses as well as parts of the fortification such as the Adlerturm. One of the most famous sightseeings in Rüdesheim is the Drosselgasse. The Drosselgasse is a 144-metre-long narrow cobblestone pedestrian street in the heart of Rudesheim's old town full of beautifully decorated restaurants. Live band entertainment, brass instruments and dance music play all day and all night during the summer in the many wine taverns. Built in the 15th century, the Drosselgasse was for boat owners to move items from the river to homes in the town. Since it is Rüdesheim's most famous attraction it is almost always crowded with tourists. There is a ship connection between Mainz from the KD (Köln-Düsseldorfer) Anlegestelle on Adenauerufer and Rüdesheim.