Poor Johannes Gutenberg, who actually came from a prosperous family, while living in Strasbourg, France, could find no investors to help develop his radical idea for a new kind of printing press. He moved back to a more business friendly Mainz, where around 1439 he built and used the first moveable type press in the Western world. This allowed the printing of books and printed material at an unheard of low cost and vast quantity.

We couldn’t wait to visit the famous Gutenberg Museum, right in the heart of Mainz.

Mainz cathedral

Mainz cathedral

But we were staying in the quiet part of the city across the Rhine River. So, instead of driving in and finding parking, we walked the mile or so across the bridge.

View of Mainz from near our hotel.

View of Mainz from near our hotel.

A beautiful bridge is our route into the old city

A beautiful bridge is our route into the old city.

The city limit is at the center of the river.

The city limit is at the center of the river.

River traffic is heavy.

River traffic is heavy.

Following great signage, we arrive at the museum.

The Gutenberg Museum

The Gutenberg Museum

Inside we are give a demonstration of the press.

Inside we are give a demonstration of the press.

On display are a few extremely valuable and rare copies of the Bible. They are on display under heavy safety glass in a vault located in the very center of the museum, far from external walls. Lighting is dim. We are in awe as these manuscripts on vellum are exquisite examples of printing and illumination.

The museum also contained printed works that preceded the movable type as well as other later types of printing and typography. Our time was well spent.

Additionally, we spent hours in the great Roman-German Museum trying to get our heads around all that the Romans did in the region long before the rise of cities. The maps of Europe would likely be very different today if the Romans had stayed in Rome and not settled and founded lasting towns and industries throughout southern and middle Europe.

The city was vibrant with activity, residents and tourists alike. After a full day in Mainz we left the others to their devices and moved on a few miles downriver to the Reingau, the pinnacle of the German wine country.

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