The way we structure our itinerary, we make it to Mainz at the end of the course, and discuss Johannes Gutenberg and the printing press long after seeing more modern technology. The press is a theme all the way through Gutenberg to the Web, but maybe next year we’ll think about going to cities in a more chronological order.
We had some snow in Mainz today, wet but pretty, and we saw a demonstration of the press in German with an English translation just for us. See the pics below for details…
We took our last trains today on a round trip from Frankfurt to Mainz, a journey of about 40 minutes one way. The students have creative ways of avoiding boredom on train rides. The professors will miss their card games, Harry Potter guessing games, and a cappella concerts that take place during these sojourns. The station pictured here is in Frankfurt. We wish the U.S. had stations like this with food, reading material, food, travel bureaus, food, and frequent trains to everywhere.
St. Stephan Church in Mainz began with a building in 990. The current church dates from 1340, although WWII damage required the cloister and much of the nave to be completely rebuilt. Russian Jewish artist Marc Chagall befriended Monsignor Klaus Mayer of St. Stephan, and created a series of nine windows for the church. The windows depict scenes from the Old Testament and were intended as a gesture of Jewish-German reconciliation. Chagall, who started the project in 1978 and died in 1985, had fled France under Nazi occupation. Chagall’s students and other artists have since added more windows.
Chagall window at St. Stephan.
It’s Carnival season in Mainz, which is a bit like Mardi Gras. As a Mainz website put it, “Parties, parades, costumes, brass bands, scathing political and social commentary, scanty outfits, normal citizens are kings and princes, knights and generals, while the pompous and pretentious are ridiculed by ‘fools’ and Court jesters.” We listened to the music a bit, and at least one student grabbed some food on our cold tour of this city on the Rhine.
These 550-year-old half timber houses, which survived the War intact, were dressed up for Carnival.
The Dom, or large cathedral, was finished around 995. It suffered WWII damage, and is in a constant state of repair.
Street vendors selling prepared foods and produce covered the old square during our visit.
This small, poignant detail etched in brass is attached to a pillar in the town square. It memorializes Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, when Nazis raided Jewish businesses in November 1938.
It began to snow about halfway through our walking tour. Our guide Annalliese was unfazed.
This shot of the snowy market was taken from a warm perch in a French cafe where the professors took refuge for a half hour lunch.
This is the recreated press in the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz. We watched a demonstration of 500-year-old printing techniques.
We also saw three original Gutenberg bibles, the first printed book in the Western world, which was completed in the 1450s. We saw another Gutenberg bible in the British Library in London, bringing our viewing total to four seen out of the 49 that exist on the planet.
Gutenbergers made up most of the audience for the press demonstration.
The docent who gave the demonstration spoke almost no English. She recruited this kind, if unfortunate, young German visitor from the audience to translate for the Americans. He struggled a bit, but was great and personable.
For his troubles, he received this freshly printed page from the bible. He deserved it.
We thanked him and the docent, and she printed a second copy on the press just for us. The profs will use it as a demonstration for future classes.
Gutenberg to the Web students pose with the namesake of our course. These guys are fun, intellectually curious and always have each other’s backs.
Behind them is the shrine to fast food, the Mainz McDonald’s.