Speyer’s people are proud of their city and so are the tour guides. Together with tourist office, a lot of very exciting and interesting tours are offered. Besides the regular tours (like Speyer in general, the Cathedral or the Historical Museum) more than 20 different special tours are offered for groups, and of course in several languages (yes, Speyer’s people are well aware that not every foreign traveller understands German).
So far, I didn’t participate in any of them, but plan to do so, as I have a high confidence in the tour guides’ competence and I love this city. Of course I will report afterwards.
Tour through 2000 year old Speyer
The most common one will bring you into the Cathedral, the Trinity Chruch, Altpörtl, Mikwe and through some backstreets.
(each Sat and Sun, starts at 11 a.m. at tourist office; 3,50 €)
Anno Domini (1106, 1462, 1559) - Tours in historical costumes
This must be a very fascinating tour, where guides are dressed in historical costumes and tell about Heinrich IV, riots in town or the days during reformation.
(each 1st Friday of the month, starts at 7 p.m. at tourist office; 5 €)
Night-watcher tour at full moon
According to very old traditions, a night-watcher will lead through town, mostly during full moon days.
(each last Friday of the month, starts at 7 p.m. at tourist office; 5 €)
Fondest memory: Medieval Crime
A dead body is found in medieval Speyer and the group has to solve the crime and find the murderer by finding traces and inquiring with witnesses.
Wine and Crime
Here, the murderer hunt is combined with wine tasting afterwards (*hicks*)
(each 2nd Friday of the month, starts at 7 p.m. at the selected restaurant; 17,50 €)
If you have already read which restaurants I recommend, you have surely found Domhof . You will be guided guide through the brewery’s holy heart and can sample some of the famous golden liquid (haha, yes, I am well aware that this is a typical “for Richie” tip).
Speyer by Bike
This must also be an exciting tour, as it leads through Speyer’s backstreets and the lesser known or famous areas. But gorgeous views of the city and of course the Cathedral are guaranteed. Either you bring your own bike or you can rent one.
The prices (per person) for these tours vary. 3,50 € (2 hrs) for the common tour through town, 5 € (2 hrs) for the more special ones like the night-watchman’s tour, tours at full moon, medieval crime, historical costumes and around 20 – 30 € for the ones which include dinner or wine tasting.
For the tours, check here:
Speyer calendar or contact tourist office: +49 - 6232 – 14 23 92
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!!
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.
Favorite thing: Speyer's wide main street is MAXIMILIANSTRASSE. Here can be found the Altportel, the Rathaus, Speyer Administration Building, the Imperial Cathedral of Speyer and the Cafe' Schlosser where we all had lunch together. It's more like a big square than a street and an absolutley wonderful "People" place, with terraces and fountains.
Considered the greatest Romanesque Church in Germany KAISERDOM - IMPERIAL CATHEDRAL OF SPEYER (circa 1030- 1124 ) is also known as Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Steven.
It was built by Emperors and designated as their last resting place as a symbol of their power.
Beneath the high altar are the tombs of eight German Emperors and Kings.
The Cathedral was added to the UNESCO Worls Heritage list in 1980.
Walking to the town center from the train station, the first thing we come across is the impressive 13th century Old Town Gate - the ALTPORTEL. It is massive at 55 metres high and dominates Maximilianstrasse, Speyer's wide main street. It used to be part of the medieval fortifications of the town.
Climb the tower for a magnificent view of the town.
Admission 1 Euro
The City Hall building or SPEYER RATHAUS is a wonderful Baroque structure built 1712 -1726 and is located on the main street - Maximilianstrasse 12.
Classical concerts and other theatrical events are often held in the hall.
I hesitate to write much of the history of Speyer, as Ingrid has written so much on her excellent page, but it is such a historic city that I feel I must mention just a few of its past glories here:
10 B.C. ~ first Roman military camp is established, alongside Germanic tribe of Nemeter which had settled in the region
250 ~ first evidence of viniculture in the region
969 ~ construction of the first medieval town wall
1030 ~ foundation stone of cathedral laid by Salic emperor Konrad II
1061 ~ cathedral is finished and consecrated
1294 ~ becomes a free city of the Holy Roman Empire
1529 ~ Diet of Speyer: the protest against the imperial ban on Martin Luther and his theses (hence the derivation of “Protestants”)
1689 ~ almost entirely burned and destroyed by French troops in Palatine war of succession
1717 ~ Dreifaltigkeitskirche or Trinity Church consecrated
1792-1814 ~ under French rule after capture by French revolutionary troops
1949 ~ becomes an administrative district in its own right
1990 ~ celebrates its 2000th anniversary
Fondest memory: Lots of famous people have visited Speyer, including Goethe, General Charles de Gaulle, Pope John Paul II, George Bush (the first one), Michael Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and …
… lots of VT-ers!!