The history of Ladenburg (Lopodunum) begins in the 5th century B.C. with a celtic settlement. The Romans turned it into the largest camp of equestrian military units, which was built and fortified between 75 and 98 A.D. After the castellum was destroyed a civilian settlement developed into a town twice the size of today's old town.
The church of St Gallus is standing on the foundations of the Roman basilica in the ancient forum. As huge as the church seems, it covers only one third of the ground of the basilica, which must have been enormous.
In the churchyard of St Gallus, two "archeological windows" have been left open where you can see foundations and walls of the Roman building. The ground plan is shown and explained on a board next to the excavations.
In the pavement of Kirchenstraße the extension of the Basilica is marked with lines of stones in different colours.
The Chapel of St Sebastian belongs to the Bishop's palace. Its origins date back to the 7th or 8th century. The oldest visible parts are the Romanesque walls of the northern transept and the steeple. The gothic vaulted choir and the plain rectangular nave have seen several changes and redecorations in the run of the centuries. After being catholic, then calvinist, and catholic again, the chapel was given to the old catholic parish in 1874 who is still using it.
The inner walls are covered with frescoes of the 15th to 17th century, depicting saints and apostles. These were rediscovered and restored in the 1970s.
However, the interior cannot be visited. The chapel is currently closed to visitors because it is in urgent need of repairs.
The catholic church, the old parish church of the town, was first mentioned in 787. Around 1000 a second church was built which uses the remnants of the ancient Roman basilica as foundations.
The oldest part of the church is the Romanesque crypt underneath the choir. The Roman foundation walls are visible from inside.
In the 13th century the choir and the northern steeple were built, a bit later the nave. The second steeple was added in the 15th century.
In 1859 - 1867 the church was renovated and enlarged to the west and the neogothic facade with the main portal was added.
The church is open in the daytime. Access from Kirchenstraße through the western portal.
Traces of Ladenburg's history are present underground and sometimes people find strange things when digging in their garden.
Maybe the most remarkable ancient Roman piece that was found in Ladenburg is the Jupiter Column and Four Gods Stone. The sculpture was made in the 2nd century A.D. and ended up in a well not much later when the germanic Alemannen took power and abandoned the Roman gods. There it survived the centuries in excellent state of conservation. The original is inside the Lobdengau-Museum in the Bishop's palace. A copy has been put up outside the palace.
A statue of Jupiter the giant rider, ready to throw a thunderbolt, can be admired on top of the column. The piedestal, the Four-Gods-Stone, depicts Juno, Minerva, Mercury and Hercules.
The Cathedral Chapter of Worms already owned real estate in Ladenburg around 1300. In the following centuries they acquired more ground.
Originally the whole town belonged to the Bishop of Worms. Since 1395, however, most of the town was in the hands of the Elector of Palatinate (Pfalz). So the town had two rulers and two governments to deal with. The property of Worms is located in the southwestern corner of the old town.
The triangular Domhof square at the western end of Hauptstraße was property of the cathedral chapter (not the Bishop) of Worms. The buildings have been substituted by the only modern architectural sin in the old town, the new town hall and parking garage.
Hint: public toilets, not very clean but at least free, can be found downstairs at the southern side of the parking garage.
The sculptures in the square represent the permanent conflict between the two rulers, Elector and Bishop. What their discussion is about is left to your own interpretation. Mine can be found in the travelogue.
The palace of the Bishops of Worms has a medieval core. In times of the renaissance it was enlarged to its present size and shape, except some changes in the mid-18th century when the building was turned into offices for the Palatinate administration and the half-timbered upper floor of the northern wing taken down.
The painted architecture of the facades is a reconstruction. In 1960 remains of the original paintings were found underneath younger plaster and paint and the renaissance decoration repainted according to the finds.
Excavations next to the palace have unearthed the foundations of the first medieval fortification of the town.
The palace contains the Lobdengaumuseum, a museum which presents the history of the town and the ancient Roman history of the region. Unfortunately it was already closed when I arrived, but this is one entry on my 'things to see next time' list.
The Bishop of Worms ruled Ladenburg since the 7th century. In 1395 a large part of the town became property of the Pfalz (Palatinate). So the town had two rulers and two governments to deal with until the Bishops left Ladenburg in 1705.
The property of the Bishop is located in the southwestern corner of the old town along the town wall. Together with the adjacent Domhof, the property of the cathedral chapter, it forms kind of an enclave inside the town.
The Bishofshof includes the palace of the Bishop and the Chapel of St Sebastian (see separate tips). A wall surrounds the grounds, which have been turned into a little park with colourful flower beds.
The hospital was founded by the citizens of the town probably around 1300. Hospital and chapel were dedicated to St Antonius Eremita (not to mix up with Antonius of Padua, the companion of St Francis).
The chapel was destroyed both in the 30 Years War and in 1689 and in both cases rebuilt afterwards. Not much is known about the first, medieval building. The present building dates from 1739.
In the early 19th century the hospital moved away. In 1810 the buildings were sold for profane use and have served as a normal house since then. The octogonal choir of the chapel has received smaller windos in two storeys but the shape still indicates that this was a church.
The former chapel still has a statue of Saint Antonius standing in a niche of the facade. Antonius was the patron saint not only of the hospital but of the whole town.
The convent that used to be here is long gone and the house is not as old as it looks. In the inscription on the facade it tells us: "Hans Chowanetz, carpenter and cook, has built me on the remains of the old nunnery in the year 1972." So this house is a reconstruction, probably the timberwork has been taken down, repaired and rebuilt just like it is happening right now in the Jesuitenhof.
A medieval relief of the Madonna and an inscription in gothic letters, both hardly recognizable due to weathering, are attached to the facade above big portal.
Unfortunately the soap and honey shop inside was closed when I visited, so I cannot tell you much about it - check out the tip on christine.j's Ladenburg page for details.
The house named "Sackpfeife" ("bagpipe") is dated 1598 above the entrance door. The wooden balconies in two storeys are preserved, as are the original windows with their little round glass panes. Maybe the most romantic house in town...
The house is the seat of the restaurant "Sackpfeife". I have not been in (I was alone) but this looks like the perfect place for a romantic candlelight dinner for two...