Thursday, January 18, 2018

Slow day in Mainz

Day 49

When we visited Mainz in 2012/3 Dagmar put together a wonderful walking tour that ticked off the big name sites in town.  Today we had a return visit to the Dom of St Martin and a bit more of a wander round town. 

Mainz is a really lovely city – and I’m really surprised it doesn’t feature more heavily on tourists itineraries.  Its got everything you’d want – beautiful street-scapes, quirky fountains, grand churches, fantastic restaurants & cafes, so much history you could drown, world-class museums and great shopping.

The 1000-year-old Dom never ceases to amaze us – its HUGE, although much more austere than the baroque churches we’ve seen throughout the rest of Europe.  We checked out the small museum underneath before heading out to my favourite part of the whole cathedral – the stunningly beautiful covered cloister around a courtyard attached to the side.  The outside of the Dom is actually quite hard to photograph, and certainly a ‘whole’ cathedral photo is impossible because there are so many other buildings built up close to it.  The bronze model gives you an idea of the size of the complex.

Right round the windows a pictorial list of all the Bishops of Mainz - from 976 to  now.

My favourite part of the Mainz Dom 

The gothic colonnade around the Cloister

Dom Museum

Six of the 12 Apostles dating from 1270

Altar table from 1310

No photos in this part of the museum so I lifted this from the internet - this painting was incredible

After the Dom we headed down past the Gutenberg Museum towards the Rhine.  On the way I found one of only 2 new Mianzer Man crossing lights.  I hope they roll these guys out over the coming months/years because he’s really cool.
Gutenberg Museum - I visited here in 2013 and saw one of  the original Guttenberg Bibles printed about 1455

Then it was through the Altstadt past the oldest half-timbered house in Mainz – still standing proudly having been built in 1450.  See I told you it was a gorgeous city!

Back for a coffee & cake before some more meandering round town and a bit of shopping. I’m being very restrained.  It's Karnival time in Mainz, all the shops are decorated - these are cake toppers I saw in a bakery window - amazing.

Tomorrow we’ll check out the Landesmuseum (State Museum) and the Karnival Museum.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A visit to Frankfurt

Day 48

After a lovely dinner with Dagmar, Matthias & Alissa last night at a microbrewery (you probably saw the photo of Tony and his baked pork knuckle) we set off this morning to explore Frankfurt with them.  Just before we left it started to snow.  It didn’t last long and much of it began melting pretty much as soon as it hit the ground but we walked to the Romisches Theatre station to meet our guides and snapped off a few.

I love this statue of three little girls under their umbrellas

Romisches Theatre is the new name of the Mainz Sud (South) railway station, named for the Roman Theatre which is right next door to platform 4 … so right next door that half the stage area was gobbled up when the station was built in the 1880’s and the historical value of the theatre was ignored, a retaining wall was built and the area filled.  Renovations, excavations took place in the early 2000’s and Alissa remembers spending time when she was at school being an archaeological labourer, shifting dirt from the Theatre site.

The train from Mainz to Frankfurt crosses the Rhine River and travels past the airport and the huge Opel Factory complex (where Matthias was an engineer for many years) that’s so big it has its own named station.  Opel occupies a site on both sides of the rail line – every facet of car design & consruction happens here.

Part of the massive Opel complex

Once in Frankfurt itself, we came up from the station and our first view was of the Hauptwache – dwarfed by the buildings around it, this 1730’s guardhouse is now a cafĂ©.  Just down the street is the thoroughly modern Myzeil shopping centre with a hole right through the building.

Then to the Small Market – here again are a few thousand words – because pictures say it better than I ever could.

German Rib-eye steak @ 46euro/kg (that's $70 Aussie)

We spent ages looking through the stalls, tasting samples and talking to stallholders about their produce before heading towards the Frankfurt Dom – also known as St Bartholomew’s Cathedral, stopping on the way for a coffee.
the centre one is Matcha cheesecake ... I passed even if it did look really pretty

The Dom with scaffolding - maintenance is an ongoing issue with buildings this old

Medieval Travelling Altar

The Dom stands on a site occupied by churches since about 680AD.  Charlemagne was in the area in the 790’s and the current church was used as the venue for the crowning of the electors of Mainz and German Kings since the 12th century.  It got an overhaul and extension in the 1560’s before burning down  in 1867. It quickly rebuilt in the Neo Gothic style.  As you can see from the photo below, cathedral was severely damaged during WW2 .
The Dom and the surrounding area - damaged after WW2

It was sleeting when we came out of the Dom so we scurried to have a quick look at the “New Old Town’ where the re-development is a deliberate mix of buildings which appear to be traditional styled half-timbered buildings (but not actually made of timber), and 19th & 19th century buildings mixed together.  Dagmar joked that in a few years the Japanese tourists will be completely ‘taken with the mix’
Modern build - made to look old

A quick detour to see the Main River and the next stop was the historical Romer – the iconic Town Hall dating from 1405  and the other lovely buildings round the Romerburg.

The Romer - aka City Hall

There are lots of churches in Frankfurt, but the one with the most fascinating story is St Pauls.  In around 1270 a monastery was built by Franciscan monks on the site, and in 1548 another church is built, known as the Barfusserkirche, the main Lutheran church in the city run by the 'Barefoot Monks.' This one is demolished in the 1780’s and a new round church is built in the 1830’s and consecrated as a Lutheran Church.  In 1848 it becomes the venue for the German National Assembly before reverting back to a church in 1852.

Smashed in air-raids in 1944 it is rebuilt in 1948 but not as a church – it keeps its original round design but today it is used as a political memorial and conference venue.  It is also the venue for the presentation of the annual The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade – won in 2017 by Margaret Atwood.  According to its statute, “the foundation is committed to peace, humanity and understanding among all peoples and nations of the world. The Peace Prize promotes international tolerance by acknowledging individuals who have contributed to these ideals through their exceptional activities, especially in the fields of literature, science and art. Prize winners are chosen without any reference to their national, racial or religious background."

The flags of all German States hang inside St Pauls

Our last stop on a fascinating and fabulous visit to Frankfurt was the Terrace atop the Galeria Kaufhof department store for some incredible views of the Frankfurt skyline … including watching the planes approach the airport .. two at a time on a 90 second separation.  That is one busy airport.

Back on the train to Mainz and plans for dinner on Friday night.