Chagall and Mainz – Day 3 Castles and Rhine cruise

Today’s theme is about Chagall on the river Rhine.  This blog is the third in the series on AmaWaterways Europe’s Rivers and Castle cruise on AmaDante.  The first post is here and the second post is found here.

Chagall stained glass in St Stephens church, Mainz Germany

Chagall stained glass in St Stephens church, Mainz Germany

As busy as day 2 was, today was as relaxing.  Since we had already been to Heidelberg we chose to skip that all day tour.  Instead after lunch we arrived at Mainz Germany and took a limited edition tour.  These are for people who have already “been there done that”.  We opted for the Chagall windows tour.  This allowed us to sleep in a bit and catch up on some reading, emails and even some business.

Chagall stained glass in St. Stephen's church

Chagall stained glass side panel

Chagall glass

Marc Chagall is a famous Jewish artist born in 1887  who lived in Russia and France.  Towards the end of his life a priest at St. Stephen’s church in Mainz asked him to design the stained glass for the church which needed extensive repairs.  Over 90% of Mainz was destroyed in WWII. In the haste to reconstruct, the church used very plain glass.    Chagall agreed and between 1978 and 2004 (when Chagall was 97)  various windows were designed and installed in the church.  One thing pointed out by the guide was that this represented a sort of reconciliation between Germany and France as well as between Jew and the previous German regime.  So peace and harmony is a theme here as well.

The glass over the alter represents mostly old testament scenes.  The glass which overlooks the seating area shows blue leaf like abstract forms.   Overall, the effect was very calming.  The  figures are simplistically drawn, similar to a child’s drawings.  But all the forms seem to flow gently as if in a stream or flicks of fire.


St Martin's cathedral Mainz Germany.

Tombstone designed for the vertical. The subject is in a walking position.

Tombstones Mainz cathedral

Tombstones Mainz cathedral. Note the pillow and sleeping position.

Mainz walking tour

As we walked down from St Stephen’s we entered the old city of Mainz.  Here we found the medieval quarter, handsomely restored.  The WW2 bombs missed this old quarter of town.  St. Martin’s cathedral dominates the center of town, adjacent to the market square.  This was where the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were crowned and the building is up to the task. The roots of the church are over 1000 years old, though much of it has been reconstructed over time.

At one time the former bishops were buried inside the church as was customary.  Over time the walking area became too crowded and they moved burial to a cemetery outside the church.  The tombstones show human representations of the person buried changed over time.  In the left photo shown here, the figure’s head is resting on  a pillow since he was intended to be laid prone.  The figure to the right is in a walking position since his tombstone was meant to be viewed vertically.

These kinds of fun facts are some of the benefits of going with a tour guide.  It is too easy to miss out on these things when walking around a city without a tour guide – even if you have a book.  In fact, when we were leaving St Stephen’s, our tour guide said that Chagall also had designed the glass for a church in Basel.  This surprised us since we had been to Basel before but didn’t remember seeing any Chagall there.  But we had toured by ourselves and even though we had done research,we must have missed this particular fact.  The tour guides used by the river cruise lines are excellent and these are just two examples.

Remainder of the day

The rest of our day included a small cocktail party for returning AmaWaterways guests, a short briefing by the cruise manager of the next day’s schedule, another wonderful dinner and an after dinner concert by La Strada.  We’ve heard this group before.  In this edition there are three string players that do everything from the classics to gypsy music to contemporary sounds.  They have lots of energy and enthusiasm from the music and it shows.  They received a standing ovation.

Both during the cocktail party, diner and the show we conversed with the same couple we had previously met.  Despite our very different backgrounds, we could easily agree on a very common set of values.  Thinking back we were basically together from 6 pm to 10 pm and there was never a break in conversation.

Third day impressions

Relaxing was the key word for they day.  Going to Mainz in the afternoon was pleasant and certainly seeing some contemporary art in the form of stained glass contrasted nicely with the heavy emphasis on historical times we’ve had.  The evening concert by La Strada’s smooth violins and guitar was relaxing as well as soothing. We are now pretty much adjusted to the time zone and have shaken off the jet lag so we should hit tomorrow raring to go.  We’ll see how that works out.

Susan Wolfson
My goal is to Make Your Next Vacation Your Best Vacation!®

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