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Mainz Cathedral

Mainz Cathedral or St. Martin’s Cathedral (in German Mainzer Dom, Martinsdom or – officially – Der Hohe Dom zu Mainz) is located near the historical center and pedestrianized market square of the city of Mainz, Germany. This 1000 year-oldRoman Catholic cathedral is the site of the episcopal see of the Bishop of Mainz. Mainz Cathedral is predominantly Romanesque in style, but later exterior additions over many centuries have resulted in the appearance of various architectural influences seen today. It comprises three naves and stands under the patronage of Saint Martin of Tours. The eastern quire is dedicated to Saint Stephen. The interior of the cathedral houses tombs and funerary monuments of former powerful Electoral-prince-archbishops, or Kurfürst-Erzbischöfe, of the diocese and contains religious works of art spanning a millennium. The cathedral also has a central courtyard and statues of Saint Boniface and The Madonna on its grounds.

20th century restorations

Conservation efforts began in the 1900s to save the cathedral from further damage. The correction of the Rhine river resulted in a lowering of the groundwater, the wooden substructures became rotten and the fundaments started to fail and needed to be replaced. Beginning in 1909 the old foundations were underpinned. Works stopped in 1916 due to World War I. Between 1924 and 1928 the fundaments were completely reinforced by a new fundament made of concrete. Concrete and steel were used to anchor the towers and main vault. A new floor, made of red marble, was constructed in this period. Architect Paul Meyer-Speer engineered a system to modify the inner walls with colorful sandstone, removing most of the paintings by Veit and restoring a look similar to the original Willigis-Bardo construction. Unfortunately this system did not withstand continuing restoration efforts, and by 1959 most of the color was gone. In World War II, Mainz was a target of Allied bombing multiple times.

The cathedral was hit several times in August 1942. Most of the roofs burned, and the top level of the cloister was destroyed. The vault, however, withstood the attacks and remained intact. The damaged elements were restored as authentically as possible, a process which continued well into the 1970s. In addition, much of the glass in the cathedral was replaced. The outside of the cathedral was colored red to match the historical buildings of Mainz. In addition, extensive cleaning and restoration efforts were undertaken, ending in 1975. In that year, the thousandth year since the beginning of the cathedral’s construction was celebrated. In 2001, new efforts were begun to restore the cathedral both inside and outside. They are expected to take from ten to fifteen years.

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