Day 4 Friday, May 25th

    Maria Laach to Mainz

    We had another good breakfast in our hotel after which we packed up and checked out.  We carried our suitcases through the train station to Avis Car Rental, which was in the train station.  We had booked a subcompact VW with stick shift - very economical.  When we checked in the representative asked if we would like to have an automatic Mercedes Diesel for the same price.  We said we would have to “seriously think about it!!!!!”  It was a cute little A180 CDI, like a small station wagon. It was black.  We hooked up the TomTom and off we went.  Before we had gone too far we were in the construction near our hotel and made a wrong turn, but the TomTom got us right back on track.   It took us right to Maria Laach without a problem.  We had set it for kilometers so we had to learn the distance in kilometers, which we are not sure we ever did.

    Maria Laach was in a beautiful setting, not far from the river.  There was a large parking lot across the road with a tunnel to the abbey.  It looked just like the model in every way, even to the little fountain.  They were doing some repair work on the courtyard.  It was beautiful inside.  Monks were leaving as we arrived.


    Most of the German churches that we will visit will be very similar to Maria Laach in an architectural style which is different from the French Gothic and even the old Romanesque churches in Cologne and the Gothic Cologne cathedral.  One of the first differences that we noticed, first in Maria Laach, was the rounded front, a structure much like the apse in the rear of French Gothic cathedrals.  There was also a matching apse in the rear of the church.  Most German church that we will visit in the next week will, like Maria Laach, have a pair of towers in the front and a pair in the rear plus one or more domes – one in the front, often one in the middle and sometimes a third on in the rear. There was no ornate west front with door surrounded by statues.  Most of the entrances are either to the right or left of the front apse with rather plain doors.


    Abbey Maria Laach was founded by Heinrich II in 1093. The church was consecrated in 1156. During the 12th century, the west and east sides were completed.  In 1802 the abbey was closed due to secularization.  Again we find fire striking, and in1855 most of the building was consumed.  Almost 40 years later, in 1892, the monks returned.

     The interior was very Romanesque with round arches, a clerestory with clear glass windows. There was a groin vaulted ceiling.  The Apse was almost entirely mosaic with a very large bust of Christ at the top with outreached arms.   There was a baldachin over the altar.  The opposite end of the church was another apse as we will see in other German churches.  This apse was the choir. SEE MY MODEL OF MARIA LAACH

    A few yards from the Abbey was a gift store and a large hotel with several restaurants.  We ate out in the Beirgarten.  We both had Bratworst and brochen  and water for 8€. There was no beer in the beergarden today!!


    Looking at our time, we decided not to go to Koblenz, even though it was very close.  So we headed to Mainz.  We got to Mainz at 3:50 and found our hotel, Ibis.  We had a cute little room with double doors.  We took off walking towards the old town and the Dom, passing passed two Baroque churches –St. Ignatius and St. Augustine - and stopped and took pictures.

      St. Ignatius Church was built between 1763 and 1675 on the site of a previous parish church.  The Cross shaped church, designed by Johann Peter Jager, is consecrated to Ignatius, the martyr and Bishop of Antioch.  A sculpture of St. Ignatius, a Last Supper relief, and four alcove figures adorn the façade. The ceiling mural in the interior of the church was produced in 1773-74, over painted in 1902 and restored in 1953-55.  The freestanding baldachin altar was completed in 1784.

    The Augustinian Church

    The Augustinian Church and Monastery was first built by Augustinians in 1260-87.  This was replaced by the present church.  In 1805 it became the Bishop’s Seminary Church, and in 1851 after a murder was committed in the church, it was reconsecrated.  The church is enclosed by buildings on three sides.  On its façade above the portal is a depiction of the crowning of Mary, flanked by St. Augustine and St. Monica with the Holy Trinity above on a throne.   In 1772, the painter Johann Baptist Enderle portrayed the baptism and glorification of St. Augustine in what is now the only originally preserved ceiling mural in any of Mainz’s Baroque or Rococo churches.

    We walked on further to the cathedral.  It was very large, with a chancel or apse at both ends, like Maria Laach.


    Willigis was appointed Archbishop of Mainz in 975.  He ordered construction of new cathedral.  This cathedral suffered extensive damage in fire on the day of its inauguration in 1009. The main portions were completed in 1037and in 1081 fire struck again.  Henry IV ordered reconstruction in 1100 in old Lombardic style but Henry IV died in 1106 before changed completed and construction was abandoned.

    It was not until the 12th century that the nave had further construction. Gothic additions were made between 1239 -1418. In 1767 the western tower was struck by lightning and its roof destroyed. Other parts were destroyed in 1803.

     Bishop Colma, with support from Napoleon, started restoration of the cathedral.   Finally it was used at as church in 1814, first time in eleven years. The repairs were completed 1831. In August of 1942, during WWII ,the cathedral suffered several hits.  Most of the roof was burned and top level of cloister was destroyed.  Vault was unharmed.

     The church was rather dark inside.  It was Romanesque…rounded arches and square pillars.  Note that the exterior above shows that there are no flying buttresses.  The side aisle are rather tall and the roof extends to right under the clerestory windows.  The photo on the left shows that the wall area between the arches and the clerestory windows contains a series of large paintings  of the life Christ.  In other cathedrals, this area often would contain windows.  

    We walked back to the hotel, stopping at a cute little vine shop for some German wine.  We went back to the hotel and then to the river which was a little over a block away. 

    We ate dinner on the outdoor terrace at the Hilton.  We had a nice view of the river and could see barges going up and down.  Part of the hotel was a section of the old Roman wall and fort.  We didn’t write down what we ate.

     Next Day

    Day 1 - Cologne

    Day 2 - Cologne

    Day 3 -Aachen

    Day 4 - Maria Laach - Mainz

    Day 5 - Mainz to Trier

    Day 6 - Trier

    Day -7- Speyer

    Day 8 - Speyer - Strasbourg - Freiburg

    Day 9 - Basel - Lindau

    Day 10 - Lindau- Meersburg

    Day 11 - Lindau

    Day 12 -   Hohenschwangau

    Day 13 - Zurich

    Day 14 - Zurich -home