Mainz and the Rhine River

Here we are looking north, that is downstream, from the walkway up on the railroad bridge.

The city of Mainz is spread out along the left bank of the river, and off in the distance on the right bank you might just be able to make out the city of Wiesbaden, or at least the beginning of it.

The hills in the background are the beginnings of the Taunus, behind Wiesbaden.

From here the Rhine — which in German is spelled Rhein — flows in a generally northwesterly direction through Germany and the Netherlands for a distance of 535 ½ kilometers (that’s the figure given in my cycling guidebook) before reaching Rotterdam.

Mainspitze from the railroad bridge

That little point of land with the blue sign on it is the Mainspitze, where the Main River (pronounced more or less like the English word mine, not like the English word main) empties into the Rhine. (So Rhine and Main rhyme in German.)

Again, I took this photo from the railroad bridge that crosses the Rhine from Mainz, the capital of Rhineland-Pfalz, over into Hessen. There is a very narrow walking, cycling and jogging path at the edge of the bridge, with a sign asking cyclists to dismount if they encounter other users.

On a nice day you definitely will encounter other users. Some people seem to jog back and forth several times a day because the view and the fresh air are so great. The path is fenced in, so you can’t really fall off, but it is still quite high up and not the place for someone with illyngophobic tendencies.

Confluence of the Main and Rhine Rivers at the Mainspitze

The Mainspitze itself can only be reached on foot or by bicycle. There’s a parking lot a few hundred meters away, but you’ll have to hoof it from there. The Main River comes in from the right, having flowed through cities such as Würzburg and Frankfurt, and a lot of smaller towns.

The word Spitze means ‘point’ in German, so the Mainspitze is the point where the Main River ends (kilometer 0, where they start counting the kilometers going upstream).

Looking up the Main River from Mainspitze

Here we are looking east up the Main River from the Mainspitze. Further upstream on the Main, 156 ½ km upstream to be exact, there is another place called Mainspitze, where the Tauber River flows into the Main. For that one, see my post Cycling in the Tauber Valley and scroll down to “Mainspitze in Wertheim”.

Mainz from the Mainspitze

Here we are looking west towards the city of Mainz, across the Rhine River from Mainspitze.

My bicycle by the Rhine River in Mainz

The Rhine, like the Meuse, is one of those confusing rivers that flow more or less from south to north, so that upstream is at the bottom end of the map and downstream is at the top. This means that if you are in Mainz and want to go to Basel, you don’t know whether to say you are going up to Basel because it’s upstream or down to Basel because it’s lower on the map.

This confusion of course has more to do with our map-making conventions than with the river, since the river was here before we were.

My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2020.

See more posts on Mainz, Germany.
See more posts on the Rhine River.

2 thoughts on “Mainz and the Rhine River”

  1. Yes, I too agree about the confusion of rivers running south to north. I first saw the Rhine when I was about ten, on a visit to relatives in Germany, when we did a boat ride from Cologne to Koenigswinter, and it was years before I realised that we’d been travelling upstream! The views from Mainspitze look great – I’ll definitely check it out if ever we are in Mainz again 🙂

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