The old centre of Mainz with its medieval cathedral, the Electoral Palace, patrician town houses, narrow lanes, cobblestone streets, and beautiful squares, reflects the fascinating history of the city. Modern landmark buildings include the City Hall, designed by the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen and built in 1971, the "Am Brand" shopping centre, the Rheingoldhalle conference centre, and Fort Malakoff.
Walking through Mainz means walking through 2000 years of history and cultural life, Golden Ages, and times of upheaval and utter destruction. The city centre, extending from Kaisertor in the north along Kaiserstrasse and from the main railway station to the citadel in the south, is the oldest part of the city, dating back to Roman times. The settlement was known as Mogontiacum or Aurea Moguntia, and many buildings and features remind us of the time when the city was the capital of the Roman imperial province of Germania Superior.
War and destruction are unfortunately also part of Mainz's history. The worst devastation was caused during the Second World War in the years between 1942 and 1945 when the city was put to ruins. After the war, many of the period buildings were carefully restored. The most vibrant areas in modern Mainz are Augustinerstrasse, the promenade along the bank of the Rhine, and the squares around the Cathedral of St. Martin, especially on market days.
Citadel: Built in 1660 on the hill of Jakobsberg, the citadel was part of the fortification of Mainz. The city's strategic location on the Rhine and in the heartland of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation made sure that it played an important part in the history of Germany. With the formation of Rhine Hesse, the city became part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, and the citadel was extensively fortified. It survived many occupations and even the Second World War bombardments, when the people of Mainz sought shelter there. Today, it is one of Germany's few remaining citadels of the modern era and it houses a number of municipal offices and cultural institutions. The citadel is a popular venue for concerts and festivals, such as the annual Citadel Festival and the Christmas market. The citadel of Mainz is also well known among the young people of Germany for the Open Ohr Festival and similar events.
The old walls and moats of the fortifications are in a partially poor state and are overgrown by plants which causes even further damage. Initiative Zitadelle Mainz e.V. (IZM), an association established in 2004, is working hard to save the citadel. The independent, non-profit organisation wants to ensure that the fortifications are preserved in a manner that does not damage the environment and that the old moat becomes accessible to the public.
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