Mainz' St. Martin Cathedral dominates the skyline and has been the centre of the city for many centuries. The roots of the present building can be traced back to the year 975. However there has been a Cathedral in Mainz since at least the 6th century, probably even since the 4th century A.D.
After substantial fire damage in 1009 and 1081, the Cathedral was reconstructed in the 12th and 13th century giving it today's size and shape. Henrich IV. had an influence on the Cathedral's design as well as he did in Speyer. This explains the similarity in style of these two Cathedrals.
Romanesque is the dominating style, though Gothic/Neogothic (and even some Baroque) elements were added during later renovations and expansions. Though hit by a bomb in 1942, the Cathedral survived WWII pretty well and was quickly restored.
No entry fee - but of course, touristical visit is not permitted during religious services. Guided tours in German are available on Saturdays for 7,00 EUR (2014 check their site for concessions and additional days in the summer season). Other languages on request, details on the Cathedrals website. If you like architecture, plan an hour for the crypt alone where you can see the remains of the 10th century building. An overall visit can take up to two hours, but can be shortened if you are only interested in the most important features. Mainz Cathedral has a large collection of religious art. The baptismal font from 1328 (probably the largest item ever cast of tin worldwide) and the 16th century altar should be mentioned here. Many items are displayed in the church, but the largest part can be seen in the neighbouring Bishopric Museum.
St. Christoph was Gutenberg's parish church and dates back to 1292 when the chruch replaced a wooden 9th century building. It was one of many Gothic churches in Mainz until its destruction during WWII. After the war, it was decided to leave the church as it was. Only a chapel under the belltower was refurbished for religious use. The rest remains as a memorial against the war. To stabilise the damaged structure, concrete elements were installed. These show different scenes from the history of Mainz, including the war.
St. Christoph is only opened for special events and for mass (around six times per month by different Catholic communities). However, you can see a lot from outside by looking through the fence. A 15th century baptismal font can be seen. Many other items from the church however were transferred to other churches. Don't forget to have a look at the Gutenberg sculpture which is placed in front of the church.
St. Stephan is one of the oldest churches in Mainz – dating back to the year 990 - and has an interesting history. It is the oldest Gothic church in the region and generally seen as the second most important church of the city – after the Cathedral. In the middle ages, it was expanded several times. The cloister was added in 1462 and is surely worth a visit. It includes a couple exhibits, including one of the former bells which was destroyed when the church was damaged in WWII. A bell called “Beatrix” replaced the bells and was the only bell in the church for many years. Beatrix dates from 1493 and was salvaged intact from the completely destroyed St. Emmeran Church in Mainz. St. Stephan is known for its stained glass windows, designed by Marc Chagall.
Marc Chagall was already in his 90s when he completed his first stained-glass window at Mainz' St. Stephen's Church. Chagall, a French-Russian Jew who fled to the USA during WWII, wanted to present the windows as a token of friendship between Germany and the Jewish community. Between 1978 and 1985, he completed nine windows before he died aged 97. Some more windows were later finished by his scholars. The windows depict biblical scenes, are kept in blue tones and are the last stained glass windows Chagall ever designed.
One of the highlights in Mainz if you like Gothic architecture and/or Chagall. No entry fee, information leaflets available in several languages for a small fee.
The Augustinerkirche replaced the 13th century church from the Augustine monastery from 1768 on. Although Baroque style was becoming out of fashion at that time, the Augustinerkirche is probably the best example for Mainz Baroque. The altar is a prime example for late Baroque (Rococo) while some early forms of classicism can be found as well. Augustinerkiche's organ is one of very few preserved from the renown Stumm workshop. When the monastery was dissolved in 1803, the monastery buildings became the Catholic church's seminary of Mainz. The Augustinerkiche survived WWII better than most churches in Mainz – indeed, it was almost undamaged.
The neighbouring building once used to be a monastery, but nowadays houses the Mainz catholic seminary.
With its large dome, Christuskirche is one of the most prominent buildings in Mainz's skyline. Some may it even might take it for some sort of Cathedral – though Christuskirche is a Protestant church in a Catholic city and its size is only a fraction of that of the Dom (Cathedral). Still, the dome was bult very large in order to have a protestant counterpart to the Catholic Cathedral.
Christuskirche was built between 1896 and 1903 and shares many features with Berlin's famous Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedaechtniskirche – though the latter is Neogothic while Christuskirche is a neorenaissance building. Mainz' Christuskirche was destroyed in WWII as well, but rebuilt between 1952 and 1954. The simple interior has less to do with protestant values, but more with the scarcity and positive attitude towards saving resources in post-WWII Germany. The church is also smaller inside than it appears to be.
The twin onion domed spires of St Peter's Church make a distinctive sight at the end of Grosse Bleiche. The rococo style church dates back as far as 944, and contains an extravagantly interior with 18th century frescoes from Joseph Appiani and a 16th century rood altar from the same Hans Backoffen who sculpted the outrageously colourful Marktbrunnen well in the Marketplace.
This Protestant church is only a century old. Catholics have always enjoyed a majority status in Mainz, and previous to the building of this church Protestants were restricted in their religious rights, being only a "tolerated" people, along with Jews. With growing liberalism in the newly founded German state the Protestants of Mainz built this, Christchurch, as a counterpart to the Catholic cathedral in the city centre. On the outside it shares its rival's ostentation - with a marvelous 80 meter high domed roof that has a touch of St Paul's and St Peter's about it. On the inside it is more traditionally Protestant - all plain walls and solemn, uncomfortable pews.
The monastic Karmeliter Church belongs to the Order of the same name and has been in use since the 13th century. There are still monks living in the monastery, in the new buildings, about eight of them. To be honest this isn't really a must see, but it is one of the places in Mainz I will remember most fondly. I came upon it by accident in the last hour before I left the city, as I was rushing around trying to see a few of the places I'd missed earlier. Suddenly a heavy shower halted my progress and I took refuge in the doorway of the church. Sitting there watching the rain fall outside was a wonderfully contemplative experience and reminded me that life doesn't always need to be lived at a breakneck pace.
The ruins of St. Christoph's Church have been left unrestored after its destruction by Allied bombing in World War 2 as a memorial to all those who died. The original church was built between 1292 and 1325 and is said to be the baptismal place of Johannes Gutenberg himself.
Up a slight hill away from Schillerplatz through some wonderful timbered old buildings is the Church of St Stephen. Its location in the green Stephanplatz is an oasis of calm in isolation from the busy streets around the Cathedral below, and there is a nice feeling of calm and contemplation about the building. This is probably part of the reason it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and pilgrims each year. The church was originally built back in 990, but has been constructed, reconstructed and repaired several times since. The latest incarnation dates back to 1857 when a nearby gunpowder store blew up and damaged the church so badly it had to be almost completely rebuilt.
Inside the church are nine stunningly blue stained glass windows created in the 1970s by Russian-Jewish artist Marc Chagall. While never having visited the city, and living most of his life in France, Chagall became an honourary citizen of Mainz for his work on these magnificent windows, which were designed as a symbol of Jewish-Christian unity.
The Baroque and rococo-styled Augustinerkirsche (St. Augustine's Church) is located along the pedestrian-only Augustinerstrasse. Upon stepping into the church, I was wowed by its ceiling frescoes depicting St. Augustine. At the back of the church is an organ built by Stumm.
This fine baroque church is one of the best, good enough to deserve its own separate tip. Nearly undamaged in World War II, it has a red sandstone facade and an incredibly beautiful interior. Dating from the 18th century, it was obviously well-endowed financially, since this was the capital city of the Elector.
This is a small church tucked away on a hill in the Old Town not to be confused with the Dom, the main cathedral. While most tourists are flocking to its more popular sister, you can have this gem all to yourself. This church has exited for about ten centuries and has been nearly demolished during Word War II. During its reconstruction Marc Chagall has been invited to do its stained windows. While still conforming to classic expectations, they bright color and edginess of compositions, offer a rewarding break from traditional church art.
This impressive Roccoco building get a beautifully reddish golden color when the late evening sun strikes the walls. It was founded by archbishop Friedrich von Lothringen in 944. In 1748 the chruch was rebuilt in the current style by the architect Johann Valentin Thoman.
While I was here the chruch was closed to public. According to my guide book the interior with fresco paintings of Joseph Appiani is a highlight of Mainz.
This Protestant church was built in the style of High Renaissance in 1895 by Eduard Kreyßig as a counterweight to the Cathedral. With its 80 m high copper dome the church dominates the skyline of Mainz. The carillon from the 1950s can be heard three times a day.
The chruch is open to visitors except during worships. Admission is free.