How Worms got its name – Joan was right
Haha, now this has a bit of VT history. The name of this city is Worms, and of course, Worms always meant Worms city for me, the city I grew up close to. When I was starting to write about Worms, Joan (scottishvisitor) dropped me a comment saying something about wiggling. It took me some time to realize what she meant and then I just could not stop laughing…. I never ever connected the name of the city to these little animals - one worm, more worms. And then, while reading in a little book about the city, I nearly fell of the chair from laughing and now I know, Joan was right in the beginning – Worms and worm(s) is not that far away from the meaning – lol.
So let me tell you the story I just learnt (and thanks to Fritz Reuter for writing about it in the little fascinating book about Worms’ gems):
Originally, the city was called Borbetomagus, a Celtic word meaning village in water-rich region (photo 1, from the Cathedral’s picture window). This adapted to Wormatia in Latin and became Worms later. Well, but for every official explanation there is always another one in form of a legend, which of course does sound way more interesting.
For Worms it is this one:
A beautiful young girl was captured by a dragon and everyone trying to rescue her ended up as yummie dragon lunch (or dinner, depending on the dragon’s sleeping habit). Finally a young and of course also beautiful blacksmith decided to put an end to all that dragon food. He made himself a steel jacket covered with sharp knives and went to say hello to the dragon. As expected, the hungry dragon ate him at once – but….. choked of course from all these knives – and sadly puffed out his last breath, erm… fire cloud. The brave blacksmith married the girl and they lived happily after at a place they named after the gruesome dragon, or worm (German name Wurm). Now Worms’ locals dialect transformed this into Worms, as Wurm is pronounced Worm in Worms’ dialect.
And voila :-)
Since then, the dragon is part of Worms’ coat of arms, at least on the one at the city’s town hall (see photo 2). And more worms = dragons, as the one sitting on top of the winegrowers' fountain, happily eating grapes (and not princesses).
... and the queens dispute
So far, the only additional pictures I took connecting Worms and Nibelungenlied are ones about the dispute of the queens.
After Siegfried married Kriemhild and Gunther married Brünhild, the girls were in constant quarrels. It finally leadt to the dispute whose husband had more class, thus who of the queens would be the one to enter the Cathedral first. Kriemhild, in her jealousy of Brünhild, told her about Siegfrieds deeds (that he and not Gunther conquered her in Iceland). This dispute took place at the entrance to the Cathedral; that’s why the northern portal is called Kaiserportal (emperor portal).
The other picture is of a very much modern little sculpture just 100 m off the eastern part of the Cathedral, obviously also showing the two queens in their quarrel. But unfortunately, no sign tells about this, so I can only assume that Brünhild is the one on the left and Kriemhild on the right.
If you want to learn more about the beginnings of Siegfried, check what Simone wrote about the northern version of Sigurd on her Sundby page (starting from tip 5 on).
Bergkirche inside – plain but beautiful
Inside, Bergkirche is very simple, but has a lot of serene atmosphere when the sun shines through the windows and paints shadows on the floor. The windows still have the old ornaments painted around them (photo 3). On the gallery, I found a beautiful old organ, but learnt that only the outer shell is still from 1781, made by the famous local organ builder Johann Georg Linck. The gallery itself is made of wood and beautifully painted (sorry, no photo, as I am limited to 5, lol).
I already mentioned the crypt, which is amazing to visit. It is very tiny, maybe only 3 x 3 m, but has been restored and is simple as well – plain white walls and pink sandstone pillars (photo 5). On Worms website I also found a fascinating story of how the crypt was rediscovered: 3 kids were playing hide and seek in 1930 and found a hole, which was almost covered with grass. Curious as kids are, they inspected it more closely as (as almost every kids of that age), they were dreaming of a treasure behind it, below the church. So they went inside, or more fell inside and discovered the crypt room.
Inside the church again, the baptistery is also an interesting piece of work. It is quite new, of 1985, made by Verena Schubert-Andres, a sculptor of Frankenthal. The upper part has originally been from an oil mill, but the pedestal was carved by her. It is a very serene sight, when the light paints shadows around it (photo 4).
(Thanks to Detlev Johannes for telling about the crypt discovery on Worms website).
Heading from the train station this is likely to be one of the first sights of the town that you will see. It is dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther, a man that the Diet of Worms outlawed because of his attempts to reform the church. In 1521 Luther marched on Worms, when Emperor Charles V called on him to retract his writings. Luther refused, he was a fugitive, but his popularity meant that by 1527 the Reformation was introduced in the very city where Luther had been condemned for preaching it. The monument itself was built in 1868.
The Nibelungen Museum
I would highly recommend the visit of this museum before seeing the town. Worms is often called the Nibelungentown. Before coming to Worms get acquainted with the Nibelungen myth. You will meet a lot of places connected with the Nibelungen. If you don't know anything about the Nibelungen myth you won't understand the history of the town and the meanings of some places.
The museum is very interesting but don't expect too much from the multimedia show.
Nice views from the museum tower.
For a detailed sightseeing you need more than two hours.