In 1024 a Salian from the Speyer district became King of Germany making Speyer the center of imperial politics as well as the spiritual center of the Salian Kingdom. The Salian dynasty was a dynasty in the high middle ages, also known as the Frankish dynasty because their family's origins were in Franconia. All of the Salian Kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor (1027-1125). The Salians decided to construct an important cathedral, which happened to mark the beginning of Speyer's further development. The cathedral was consecrated in 1061. It was the largest church of its time and for many centuries it was the largest building in Europe. The Speyer Cathedral remains the largest Romanesque church to this very day and it is the burial place of eight German kings and emperors. R.I.P.
Regardless if you're religious or not, the cathedral is a really impressive place to visit, and just walking around Maximilian Street without taking a closer look at that famous cathedral would mean missing one of Speyer's (and Europe's) most important and historic sights.
The cathedral is surrounded by a large and beautiful park called Cathedral Park (Domgarten) full of large and old trees, a park where you can stroll, sit down, have a picnic, play soccer or hide-and-seek (the latter two usually although not exclusively confined to kids).
In front of the cathedral (on Maximilianstrasse) there is the Cathedral Square with the cathedral bowl (a stone bowl filled with wine for the whole population whenever a new bishop is elected) in the center. The cathedral bowl (Domnapf in German) can hold 1580 liters of wine!! Cheers!
When you're facing the cathedral and the genuine "Domnapf", you'll notice a restaurant to your left (on Cathedral Square) that is called "Domnapf" as well, so in case the real cathedral bowl happens to be empty you can get a refill at the restaurant. Cheers!
Fondest memory: The vibes player in Cathedral Park. I have yet to witness the cathedral bowl full of wine!!
As I said before, to see the Kelly boat and bus kept in the Technikmuseum was the main reason for our trip to Speyer. It was a remarkable experience. The members of the Kelly Family had been my childhood and teenage idols, and there was (and still is) a strong connection to them. Their music has helped me get along difficult times throughout my life, especially when I was a teenager, and just to be "acquainted" with them for such a long time and throughout such different stages of life creates a strong and very special bond.
To see the Double Decker Bus and see and even walk around the legendary boat of the family was like meeting a legend!
I had become a fan of the band in 1995, when I was only eight years old. This was the most successful time of the band, when they had No 1 hits, did sold out tours through big stadiums, and were on TV every week. However, the band had already existed since 1974. The father, Daniel Kelly, was a descendant of Irish immigrants and lived in Massachussetts. In 1966, he decided to leave the USA and move to Europe because he did not want his children to grow up in a world that to his mind had become too much influenced by consumption and pure capitalism.
The family - parents and four young children - went to a small village in Spain and earned a living by farming and trading antiques. When the children grew older, they started singing and learning instruments, and at first, they only performed at birthday parties, later also in bars and restaurants in Madrid. 1974 is the official year of founding the band, then called "The Kelly Kids" - by then, the family (Daniel had married a new wife) had eight children, and five were performing in the band. They mostly sang Irish and Spanish folk songs.
In 1976 the family did a trip to Rome and their bus was robbed - they lost everything except for the instruments. They decided to play on a square to earn some money and they earned so much on that single day that it was decided to continue playing on the streets and squares. They bought the Double Decker Bus shortly after and from then on travelled through Europe.
So, these were the beginnings! It would of course be too much to explain more of the band's history in detail here... After big successes in TV in the beginning of the 1980s, they stopped to pursue that path because to be free of any imposition was more important to them. In 1982, the mother died, leaving behind twelve children (eight of them her own biological children).
The family continued to sing and play in many European countries, having more and more fans and admirers. The commercial breakthrough in Germany and other countries came in 1994 and the band was very successful until around 1999 when they announced a break. Since then, there have still been many tours and concerts, sometimes of several members together, but also many solo tours because now several family members follow their own paths and own musical ideas.
What has fascinated their audience for so many years is their naturalness. Their music is and was handmade, they know their stuff, and they touch your heart because it is real. If as children and teenagers in the 1980s, as young people in the 1990s, or now as grown-up adults who have children on their own and have their own lives and careers: What they do is authentic, and you can trust that they are real musicians, friendly people, and very down to earth.
I must admit that nowadays, I don't agree with everything the members of the family do, and I think that some of them don't live up to the ideals they once stood for. Some have become very much commercial - but it is their own decision, and they are of course free to do what they want. Of course I also personally see some things of the past more critically now, I am not a teenage fan girl anymore. But it is true that the Kelly Family has had a big influence on me and has shaped some of my ideals.
To live your life as you imagine it, not only influenced by total consumption of everything the market offers you, but by freedom of mind, by arts and poetry, by simple needs and compassion. Not to run for every trend and fashion, but to stay true to yourself, and to follow your path. That is what their music was and is to me.
Ok, and now for some music... If after reading this long text you are interested in listening to some music of the band, I have selected three videos. With more than 35 years of band history, and several hundred songs, this was not easy ;-) But I try to give a kind of overview.
The first one is a song from 1981, the first big hit of the family, when they had their first TV performances after having played on the streets for some years already. Unfortunately, it was not possible to find any live clip on YouTube. The record is an album recording.
Who'll Come With Me (David's Song)
The second one is a song from the 1990s, and a video clip composed of many different live clips at the peak of the band's career, when they were playing in big halls and stadiums.
Key To My Heart
Now into the new millenium - the third one is a song from 2006, a basque song sung by John Kelly and his wife Maite Itoiz live in a German talkshow. The two have had their own band for some years.
Maybe I gave you reasons enough to visit this fascinating town, but there are even more to come ! If you like typical festivals, and if you are flexible in your time, you should try and come during one of these wonderful festivals, Speyer is helding throughout the year.
(I have not seen any, as I only re-discovered the town in September 2006, but 2007 will see me on almost every of these :-))
Frühjahrsmesse (spring fair), 2nd and 3rd weekend of April (April 9-19, 2009):
This is a mixture between fun fair (with several rides for kids) and exhibition of local products.
Frühlingsfest (spring fair), May 2 - 3, 2009:
Shops are open on Sunday, delicious food is served on streets and in restaurants.
Brezelfest (pretzel festival), July 10 - 14, 2009:
This one is.. what else… dedicated to the famous pretzel. It is also a mixture of fun fair and pretzel sampling, together with all the delicious food, Speyer provides.
Siedlerfest (settlers' festival), July 31 - August 2, 2009:
Festival at Heinrich-Lang Platz.
Kaisertafel (Emperor’s Table), August 7 - 9, 2009:
This is a festival, held by Speyer’s restaurants and hotels community. A long table is set on Maximilianstraße, yes, from the Cathedral down to the Altpörtel and you can sample all the delicious food served by the various restaurants.
Spectaculum (Medieval festival), August 29 - 30, 2009:
This is one of the many Medieval festivals, held throughout Germany since some time.
Altstadtfest (old town festival), September 11-12, 2009:
This is a mixture of sampling delicious food and walking through Speyer’s old districts (north of Maximilianstraße). All the atmosphere has a historical touch to it, and it is said to be the best festival, Speyer offers.
Fondest memory: Bauernmarkt (farmers’ market), September 19 - 20, 2009:
Well, this should also be one of Speyer’s best – a market where local farmers offer their goods. Believe me, I grew up in the region, and potatos, berries, apples and other fruit and vegetables is the best !! I've been there with my colleague from India in 2007 and he couldn't stop buying goods - me neither. The photos show some impressions of this market, and on my Rheinland-Pfalzpage, I have written about all the shops I loved at this market.
Christmas Market, November 23, 2009 – Januar 6, 2010:
Well, more than a typical Christmas Market, as it also has all kinds of local traditional artwork, a lot of attractions for kids (including kids’ Christmas baking).
Speyer's website lists all upcoming festivals and markets, but in German only:
Speyer festivals 2009
As is the case in so many cities, what went before is what has shaped today. Due the War of the Great Alliance, the place where the coins were minted was destroyed in 1689 and the edifice of today, the "New Store by the Market", a classic Palatine structure, was built in 1748.
It's interesting that, in those days, the right to mint and hold markets was given to cities.
Where the splendid fountain and statue of St. George slaying yet another dragon lie was the market place of yesterday and these days it still remains a focus of attention located, as it is, in the middle of the Maxmiliantstrasse.
This fountain has been subject to many discussions due to its inscriptions, which later became synonym for Germany’s dark history. Its original purpose was to be a memoriam for the lost soldiers of WWI.
Fondest memory: Phone: +49 - 62 32 - 14 23 92
Address: Speyer, Maximilianstrasse
Directions: Walk westward on Maximilianstrasse, it's on your right, some 400 m west of Cathedral Plaza.
Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
49°19’02,91’’ N; 08°26’16,22’’ E
Other Contact: touristinformation@stadt-speyer.
At Sonnenbrucke there is a sculpture that you can't miss because it sits right on the bridge.
Fondest memory: It is of Saint Nikolaus (you may have heard of him) and is dedicated to the patron saint of the fishermen and day labourers, who lived in the Hasenpfuhl, and is a reminder of the historical significance of the mediaevel "Nikolausviertel" quarter.
It also marks the daily route taken by the philosopher and Carmelite, Edith Stein, who was blessed by the Pope, John Paul II, in 1987. She used this route over this very bridge for nine years on her way to the cloister of St. Magdalen.
Ths sculpture is by Wolf Spitzer.
I was quite surprised when I checked that I had actually taken 5 shots of the statue, though they're from such different angles that you might find it hard to believe.
The other place I won't forget in a hurry is Sonnenbrucke. It is here that the old road to the Kaiserdom passes; not only that but it passes over the oldest bridge.
Fondest memory: As it does there is a wealth of half timbered treasures in the form of architecture, none better than Zum Halbmond Inn that sits just on the cathedral side of the bridge. However, there are many other splendid examples (pics 4 & 5) of the rich legacy of this area and looking at all the possibilities (pic 3) brings a smile to the photographer.
You know how you visit a town and some things stick in your mind, others you forget. Some that stick are nice memories and that is what I have of the Fischmarkt.
The only sad thing is that I didn't spend more time here. I would have loved to have sat down at one of the cafes and watched the world go by, but, sadly, time did not allow.
Fondest memory: The Fischmarkt was the focal point of the Hasenpfuhl (don't try to say that fast three times or you might choke). The fishermen and shipworkers, the town's poor folk, used to live in this tranquil old town quarter.
Its unmistakeable symbol is Stefan Forler's "Fish on Stilts" that seems to be looking at you wherever you are on the square.
The old houses have been carefully restored and the square slightly rearranged to a more open plan that allow the sculpture to be viewed.
Medieval Pilgrims walked thousands of miles on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
The wonderful bronze sculpture of JAKOB SPILGER located on Maximilianstrasse, is to remember the pilgrims who passed through Speyer in Medieval times.
This lovely church holds a special place in Ingrid's heart. She is so passionate about this special place. She arranged for a minister (Priestess Golzer ) in the Church to give us a special guided tour and she explained most of what the church was all about.
Built in Baroque style, from 1701 to 1717 TRINITY CHURCH or Dreivaldigkeitskirche, is a Lutheran Church.
The entire interior has been preserved from that time. Two features are particularly interesting - the wood carvings on the altar and pulpit and the vaulted wooden ceilings, richly painted with scenes from the Old and New Testament by Johann Christian Gutbier.
Located beside the River Rhine in Rhineland-Palatinate SPEYER lies 25 km south of Mannheim and north of Karlsruhe. Speyer has a compact centre which is dominated by the Kaiserdom Imperial Cathedral and the Altportel ( Old Town Gate).
A large VT group, led by Ingrid (Trekki), made a day trip to this lovely town. We visited Trinity Church, the Imperial Cathedral of Speyer and we all had lunch together at a local restaurant.