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The Zitadelle (citadel) is a 17th century military fortress overlooking the old town.Though the Drususstein, a monument dedicated to the military commander Drusus, the Zitadelle does not stand on the grounds of the Roman fortress. The Zitadelle first included some buildings from a former monastery, but during later alterations these were pulled down and replaced by larger buildings. After the end of WWI, the military usage ended and local authorities moved in. Only during WWII, the Zitadelle served as a shelter for thousands of Mainz' inhabitants. Today, some institutions from the state of Rheinland-Pfalz as well as a city museum are housed here. Sometimes, the grounds of the Zitadelle are used for open air events, including a music festival in May.
You are free to walk around the grounds of the Zitadelle during daytime, there is no entry fee except for the city museum.
The Drususstein, a monument dedicated to the Roman commander, stands on the grounds of the Zitadelle and is described in a separate tip. Some one-man bunkers from WWII can be seen here as well.
- Castles and Palaces
As a Roman city, it is no surprise that Mainz once had a Roman amphitheatre. It is a surprise that excavations only started in 1998 and that it turned out to be the largest Roman amphitheatre north of the alps.
The Roman theatre was probably used until the 4th century and last mentioned in the 11th century. When the citadel was built in the 17th century, the area was covered with earth to created a stable base for it. When the railway was built in 1884, a part of the stage house was discovered but destroyed after being measured and documented. First archaeological excavations in search for the rest of the theatre were scheduled in 1914, but after the outbreak of WWI all efforts in this direction were stopped. It took until 1998 when excavations restarted. The theatre discovered was located in an earth hill next to the southernmost platform of the Mainz/Südbahnhof train station. That train station was renamed after the theatre in 2006 and is now known as Mainz/Roemisches Theater.
Excavations and preservation are still going on so that you can not access the theatre itself. However, you can have a view from the train station as well as from the hill above. For that, use the southern exit of the Roemisches Theater train station at platform 4. A visit to the Roman theatre can easily be connected to a visit of the Drususstein (a Roman monument) and the 17th century citadel.
The first tower on this spot was built in the 4th century when Mainz' city wall was redesigned. Only the base of that tower is left. This was used when the medieval Alexanderturm was built in the 15th century. From the 18th century on, it was used for several functions, including as a gunpowder storage, and a water tower. In the early 20th century, it was acquired by the Kupferberg champagne house together with the surrounding area and restored. It is one of only three towers from the medieval defence system to stand in Mainz. among those three, Alexanderturm is the only round one, the only one with a Roman history and the only on the southern side pof the old town. The other two, Holzturm and Eisenturm are squared buildings and located close to the Rhine.
Alexanderturm stands on the grounds of the Kupferberg champagne house and is usually not accessible. However, it is visible from Augustusstrasse. You can also ask the Kupferberg guys if you can see their park and then get closer to the tower. The tower itself however is only opened on special occasions.
Kupferbergterrasse is a terrace from which you have a good view onto the old town. Especially in spring and summer, its small park invites you to spend a couple of minutes on one of Mainz' top addresses. Kupferbergterrasse has its name from the famous Champagne Producer Kupferberg who has his parent house and an own restaurant next to the terrace.
The City Center
The old historic center of Mainz was severely damaged in World War II, but has been beautifully restored. It's very walkable, and has a number of historic buildings and city squares.
The Marktplatz, or Market Square, is the real center of activity in Mainz. Surrounded by half-timbered houses, it has a gorgeous fountain in the middle.
Perhaps the most important building is the Electoral Palace, once the residence of the Archbishop of Mainz who was also the Prince-Elector. Completed in 1678, this is one of the finest examples of German Renaissance architecture.
Another outstanding building is St Peter's Church, built in 1748, a fine example of German Baroque architecture.
The largest Protestant church here is the Christ Church, with its elaborate Renaissance-style dome.
Kirschgarten, or the Cherry Orchard, is another quaint medieval town square. The orchard is gone, but the pleasant ambiance remains.
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
Pondering at the City Monuments
There are enough monuments to ponder at in the Old Town:
starting with Johannes Gutenberg monument in Gutenberg Square
and Friedrich Schiller monument in Schiller Square
to a queer stone monument not far from Market Square (picture 5)...
These are some interesting monuments I have seen:
* Johannes Gutenberg, a great inventor;
* Friedrich Schiller, a great German poet;
* the Carnival monument;
* Little Bronze Soldier (I called it so);
* Queer Stone (a modern surrealistic monument, to make you think, too…).
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Mainz Travel Guide
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