MAINZ - THE CITY WITH A LONG HISTORY (10/27/12)
Mainz is a city that has a long history going back to the times of the Romans and before - and then after that with influences by the French, the Swedes and there were more pertinent influences - but that is for one to read and know from history books.
The Catholic Church thrived in Mainz which had a long run for thousands of years and still thrives; surviving all the many revolutions, the hundred year wars, the plagues, participating in the crusades; World War I and II - what else can one add to the long list that history brought its way; and to the very doors of Mainz; its growing population - and through it all - it survived and what is more prospers.
The Romans fortified themselves on the Rhine and it is from one of these ancient fortifications that Mainz blossomed; first a small town, then a City and then more than a City a center of importance. Liturgy, choirs, monks, chants, vineyard, landmark buildings, sculptures, paintings, music, dance, and fine cuisine and more.
Bishops and Cardinals and Popes visited Mainz and one brief look at its landmark cathedrals which are both breathtaking and awe inspiring. The Apostle of the Germans and first Archbishop of Mainz, Boniface (747-754) received his maître from the Pope in 747.
Charlemagne reinstated the Metropolitan Constitution thereby bestowing a singular privilege bringing several Bishops to acknowledge Mainz and its sitting Archbishop. That is Charlemagne the Great - the one I read about so much in my early childhood days. Never imagined I would walk on the soil he walked and rode on.
The surrounding area attracted the monks who practiced silence but also adhered to cultivating vineyards that produced the best of wines. To this day the region is famous for its wine. I was told that the reigning Queen of England - Elizabeth; favors wine from this region. She must have good taste buds.
The Eberbach Monastery famous for the Cistercian Order established their colony in 1136. We all remember Bernard of Clairvaux who established hundreds of settlements - the entire Western world responded to the piety of the Benedictine monastic reform which began around 1098.
Prayer, singing, hard work the monastic rules were rigorous with only a few hours of sleep. At the Eberback Monastery the simplicity of the Monastery and the austerity practiced is visible even to this day. The many upheavals, the Peasants' War, the Thirty Years War - never fazed the monks the monastic discipline never, ever - deteriorated.
The surrounding churches and cathedrals to this day have been maintained and as one glances at the architecture, the monuments and statutes, the pictures some so old that it invokes the spirits of hundreds if not thousands of years.
Famous among them Saint Martin's Cathedral - the present cathedral a Romanesque rebuilding erected between 1100 and 1239. As you enter the cathedral you witness the simplicity and at the same time feel the majesty of the six-tower silhouette and the bipolarity arising from two octagonal centre towers, with four smaller staircase towers.
Wall monuments to Johann von Nassau, Archbishop Peter von Aspeit, Archbishop Siegfried III von Eppstein, Albrecht von Brandenburg, Mary mourning supported by the disciple John - take you through thousands of years - the early years of Christianity to the Reformation and beyond.
There are books written about Mainz and the surrounding area and it is not my place to get into detailed history but to give some brief comments as a tourist passing through. I toured this region, more because; two good friends Olavo de Souza and Regine de Souza; who live close by - were kind enough to spend a day with me - touring Saint Martin's Cathedral and the surrounding area.
Frankfurt is the City nearby is well know maybe for its airport. Mainz and the surrounding area reveal thousands of years of civilization; the print press, the first printed Bible, other machines to press grapes; and make wine - the early first inventions that even today most engineers and others - marvel at.
I took some photographs of the area but it does little justice to the natural beauty of the Rhine - seen through the naked eye - it is magnificent. Rich in history; one can imagine the many attempts to defeat the Romans for example; and encountering the embankments created surrounding the Rhine to keep the enemy at a distance. Even today you see the forts and wonder.
The highlight of the tour of this region, were the high vintage points from where one got a panoramic view of the entire area - below you. Here for thousands of years; nations vied for power. The Romans came and conquered - and if you joined the Romans; you were part of them and bestowed citizenship; if you did not; you and all you had was destroyed and vanished.
In later years the French and the Swedes got haughty and Mainz and the surrounding area dealt with them and survived. The culture of the area is unique - music, dance, cuisine, spirituality, the homes, the vineyards and tourists come - see and many stay on and speak why they stayed on.
The party that accompanied me chose to have dinner at the Restaurant Rosenberger situated on Rheinstr 11; the gourmet dishes prepared by the Chef were excellent. I made it a point to invite the Chef to San Francisco and assured him; as and when he comes he will be treated, well.
I chose to buy my bottle of Eau de Cologne at one of the stores. A little further down; I spotted a store that sold the original Swiss knifes; I have a collection of them; and bought a few pieces for my collection.
The little town nearer to Mainz brings the tourists in the hundreds. The cobble stone narrow streets with stores on either side - make for some first class window shopping, possible. Little souvenir stores offer authentic German wood carvings, porcelain figurines unique to Germany; and as one would expect an invasion of cheap souvenirs from China to boost and confuse.
I met a few tourists mostly from Europe; one came from Spain to visit his family and had been to the United States. Another came from a neighboring village with her relatives from Austria; they were in town for a family reunion. The host lived in California and we spoke about America and things in and around Mainz.
The woman who once lived in California in the Napa Valley; agreed to allow us to take a photograph of the group; shared her email with me - and will see this article and the photograph and more. That is what life is all about.
Enjoy the photographs of Mainz and the surrounding area:
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