Mayen and its five village boroughs, in the Mayen-Koblenz District of the Rhineland-Palatinate state, sits on an ancient volcanic area, known as the Vulkaneifel — a pre-region of the inscrutable Eifel.
Some 13,000 years ago this area was shaped by volcanic activity but the town itself isn’t quite that old, having only been recognized officially as Mayen in 1041.
The Romans weren’t the only ones to understand the economic significance of the town and the area flourished from the 3rd century up until the time of the Middle Ages with the establishment of local potteries and quarries.
And as the town thrived through the centuries, the townspeople built the obligatory castle and church. The Genovevaburg, the 13th century castle, now houses the Mining Museum and Eifel Museum giving insight into the life of a mining town. You’ll be handsomely rewarded with a great view of the town from the top of the castle’s tower.
The original St. Clemens Parish Church had to be rebuilt in 1945 with legend telling that the devil himself twisted the church’s spire, but no matter if there’s truth to the legend or not, the twirl just adds just enough of a whimsical touch.
In a mix of ancient meets modern, Mayen and its Grubenfeld is part of the German Volcanoes Route. For not a lot of Euro the whole family can take one of the guided hiking tours for a real educational experience of living with volcanoes and the history of the area.
If hiking isn’t for you, don’t worry… there are tours of archeological digs, quarry and mining tours. A visit to the Vulkanmuseum will really give you an understanding of how volcanoes shaped the landscape creating lakes and the terrain.
The town isn’t all volcanoes and no play, hosting a few festivals throughout the year. The Burgfestspiele, the Castle Festival Show, lasts for a few weeks in the late spring. The Stein-und Burgfest (Stone and Castle Festival) in September will give you the chance to purchase items from the local guilds and craftsmen. It’ll be fun for the whole family, especially the kids, at the Lukasmarkt where there are rides and amusements that last for an entire week in October.
Mayen, despite its long history, was completely rebuilt when 90% of the town was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944 and 1945. In fact, it took a special referendum to decide if the town should be rebuilt. With all the history, both natural and man-made, the town has much to offer, so it’s a great thing they did, isn’t it!