Worms once had a thriving and ancient Jewish community, dating back as far as the last millennia, and numbering as many as one thousand even as late as 1933. Today the community is gone. The final straw was the Nazis, but there had been many other persecutions, including the destruction of the Jewish Quarter by crusaders in 1096, and then being attacked during the Great Plague by locals who believed that they had poisoned the wells. Today the well preserved Jewish Quarter is a poignant and touching reminder of a once proud and important part of German society.
The streets through the Jewish quarter are wonderful, and probably my favourite part of the city. It's peaceful, beautiful and very evocative. I could feel my heart strings being pulled. The quarter contains both a museum, detailing the history of Jewish people of Worms, and also a synagogue, although it is only used by American army personnel. The synagogue was rebuilt after being burned down during Kristalnacht, and damaged by Allied bombers.
The Dominican order established a monastery at the site of St Paulus church in 1226, but due to the secularisation of the city it became first a hay store, then a city museum, before being finally returned to the people as a place of worship after the war. The church is built of rough sandstone in the Romanesque style, and looks quite obviously a miniature version of the cathedral itself.
Just outside the city centre is one of the most famous churches in Germany, the Liebfrauenkirche. It is so big it could pass for a cathedral itself, and can be seen clearly from the Rhein around the Nibelungenbrücke. The immense stone structure, with its extravagant towers, is set back from the city in some large vineyards. If you know anything about German wine you'll maybe make a connection, and you'd be right: this is the very home of that disgusting sweet wine: Liebfraumilch. Although I personally hate it, I've have it on good authority that the true local stuff is of a very high quality, and not the muck that gets sold in Britain. I am dubious, however, and have yet to be talked into trying a glass.
The Torturm (Gate tower) sits atop the Nibelungenbrücke that you drive across to enter the city from the east. It is an extravagant piece of work, and very impressive, and surprisingly only built as recently as 1900. I saw people in the tower and thought I could walk up, gaining access from the left side (approaching from the town), but even though the door was open it seemed to be some kind of residential block, looking like some kind of backpackers. The bridge itself crosses the Rhien, and there are some nice walks to be had around and about, but they are somewhat spoiled by lack of development, and some unsightly heavy industry.
The old Romanesque Andreas church now hosts one of the best museums in Worms, the Museum der Stadt Worms. The church itself contains articles of medieval sacred art, and the buildings around the back have works of Roman and Frankish antiquities. There is also a special Luther room that explains the events of the 1521 Diet of Worms, along with some of Luther's original writings. Adjoining the museums back buildings is part of the town's old wall, the Stadtmauer. While this is quite impressive, there are more spectacular sections elsewhere.
This is the oldest Evangelical Church in South West Germany, but more importantly this was one of the first churches in the region to turn to Protestantism during the Reformation. It is a Carolingian church with Romanesque and Gothic extensions, but despite its age it has been restored several times, most recently in 1953.
The Cathedral of Worms is outstanding, and probably the main draw of the town. You can see the cathedral's roof and towers for miles around, and it makes an impressive part of the town's skyline. It is very distinctive, and looks particularly spectacular from the front, and has a few Gothic additions mixed in with its basic Romanesque construction. Historically the cathedral is of great importance: built in the 12th century it became the center of the Holy Roman Empire and here were made decisions of such importance they affected a huge swathe of humanity. It remains one of the greatest monuments of German medieval architecture, and should impress as much today as it did when it was first built.
Built in the 4th century A.D. the "Römische Mauer" is one of Worm's oldest and most striking reminders of its Roman history. Its dilapidated arches contain a history of the town depicted in Romanesque mosaics. Like many of the Roman remnants, the locals built over them with their own form of the same: you'll see that the medieval town wall follows along the same path.
This doesn't seem to be marked down as a particularly worthwhile tourist attraction, perhaps because Worms has so many other sights, but I was really impressed by this immense grandiose town hall. It's not like any other I've seen in Germany, and I loved the way it curved protectively around Hagenstrasse, a wonderful street in itself to walk along, its far end framing the best view of the cathedral by far.
Nibelungen Museum – solve the mystery :-)
If you expect a museum with exhibits on display – be warned, there is nothing here like that. Eventually, the Nibelungen saga is a legend.
This museum was realized in 2001, integrated into parts of the old city wall and two remaining fortification towers. It is a completely new concept according to their website. So, there is no real gold here, but the legend and the treasure forms in your imagination, once you walk around and listen to the stories told by the unknown author of Nibelungenlied.
In the first tower, called Sehturm (optical tower), the author tells you about the legend, which is visualized by a very interesting array of screens with scenes, partly in slow-motion, of old Fritz Lang movies (“Siegfried” and “Kriemhild’s revenge”, 1924; photo 2). In this tower, you walk up the stairs, around an illuminated mandrel (see photo 1) which symbolizes Rütelin, a lucky charm of Nibelungen treasure.
Once you finish listening to the legend, you walk inside the city wall (see photo 3) to the Hörturm (audio tower), which is meant to be the author’s creative centre. Parts of the Nibelungenlied are narrated in their original ancient language, and side information is given to the culture of the legend’s days of formation. You are guided through the stories with an interesting sensor-controlled device (photo 4).
I liked the optical tower very much, as it not only tells the Nibelungen legend, but very much critically points out how the myths of the tall blonde germans (Siegfried and Kriemhild) and the Siegfrieds magic power have been idealized and badly misused by Germany’s black and sick past.
For me, the final words of the narration were very much thought-provoking, as in a way I feel their meaning being reality again today – quote:
”I only told you now the legend of the Nibelungen, and it makes me sick to see the perversion, how figures of historic legends are still bended, twisted and abused for modern ideologies. Mankind has nothing learned from history. (end quote).
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Entrance fee: adults: 5,50 €, kids 3,50, families (2 adults with kids under 18): 13 €
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Nibelungenmuseum and the legend (Worms, Germany)
In the August of 2001 the city of Worms opened their historic Nibelungenmuseum, depicting and audio-journeying the tales about the Nibelungenlied right at the town wall where some of the legends may have taken place. They boast of "state-of-the-art" didactic aids that are led by story tellers representing the great renowned tales of the unknown 12th-century poet. However, from our experience with the equiptment, signals got lost, units malfunctioned for half of us. But in "brand new format" of 2001, I'm sure they were "state-of-the-art" at the time. As you climb the towers of the old city wall, you approach various stations where the headphone aid starts telling the story, and you can push the button to learn more. Aids are in German as well as English. It is a guided story, nothing more. There is very little to look at, no artifacts, and without the aids, it would be a climb up two towers and across the town wall. The site states that the exhibit will change from year to year as new aspects of the myth are improved and deepened. According to the museum, there will be theme-years and networks with other organizers to present different materials. The towers and walls are part of the original town wall where you can see architectural history unfold between the old city wall and the annexes. The scenes of the legend take place at this spot and within the area of the city, so there is lots of history lessons about "Worms" itself at the museum's presentations.
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Worms Dom (Cathedral) - Worms, Germany
The Worms Dom, or "Wormser Dom" is also known as the "Cathedral of St Peter". This is the principal church and chief building of the city of Worms, Germany. It represents one of the finest Romanesque churches on the Rhine, next to Speyer and Mainz. It consists of a impressive basilica, two large domes with a choir on each end, four round towers, and an imposing exterior of the red sandstone from which it is build and is 110 m long, 27 m wide (36 m including the transepts), and with the nave is 26 meters high, and 40 meters high with the dome. The Catholic diocese that resided here ended in 1800. The only original structure of the church remaining from its original construction in 1110 is the ground plan and lower part of the western towers. The rest was finished by 1181, with the west choir and vaulting completed in the 13th century, south portal in 14th century, and central dome was rebuilt. Ornamentation of the older church was simple with unique sculptures showing salvation stories. The baptismal font contain 5 remarkable reliefs from the late 15th century. The Dom contains the burials of Conrad I (Duke of Carinthia), Conrad II (Duke of Carinthia), Conrad (Duke of Lorraine), Heny of Speyer, and Queen Matilda (d. 1034), consort of Henry I of France and daughter of Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor.
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The church St.Paulus belongs to the Dominican cloister of Worms, still a working cloister. We had seen the church from the top of the Nibelungenmuseum and wanted to go there. There are two spires looking more like oriental towers than the usual church spires here.
It's not as well-known as the cathedral, but I though it was more beautiful. Inside there was less than in the cathedral and so there was more.( This sounds crazy, but that's how I felt.)
I liked the stucko at the ceiling and the colourful carvings. But the most impressive part of the church is the door.This is a huge door which has been renovated recently. It illustrates in reliefs stories from both the old and the new testament. I was reminded of the famous door to the baptistry in Florence.
We couldn't use this door to enter the church and were ready to give up, thinking the church was locked, when some other tourists discovered a small side entrance and told us.We were lucky, as otherwise we would have missed the beautiful inside of St Paulus.
Dom - the Cathedral
While this is certainly a very impressive building, I didn't really like the cathedral. This is of course strictly a layperson's opinion, but for me it was too much of everything.
An interesting building, very plain in some parts, but the baroque altar didn't seem to fit. It looked out of place, at least for me.I later learned that it had been added after a fire in 17th century had destroyed parts of the cathedral.The original church was from 12th century, a medieval building.
I did like the mosaic above a door to what used to be the bishop's yard. This is a beautiful mosaic, and it seems to be hidden in a dark corner.
Close to it there are sculptures on the wall, among them a beautifully carved Jesse tree and a nativity scene.
You can go down to the crypt where some members of the Salier family are buried. Entrance fee here is the cheapest I have seen for a long,long time: 10 cents! I first thought they had made a mistake and forgot a zero or put the komma at the wrong place, but no, it's really just 10 cents.
Inside the cathedral there is a little shop, selling booklets and folding cards, some with very nice Christmas scenes. I don't remember exactly how much they were, 1,50 or 2 Euro at the most.
Add to this several tour groups and you can imagine the atmosphere in the cathedral, more like a busy market place with lots of different stalls than a cathedral.
My absolute favourite part was the dachshound.
This probably shows you how much my opinion about this famous cathedral is worth, so by all means, if you are in Worms go there and see for yourself.
The dachshound is said to have saved the builder's life, by biting him just seconds before a large stone came crashing down. Since he had jumped aside, he wasn't hit. The dachshound is watching at the outside, close the the waterpipe at the main entrance. My picture is not good, if you want to see the dog properly, look at :Ingrid's (Trekki) page:
Reformation Monument - Luther Denkmal
In 1521 emperor Charles V was coming to Worms to hold a diet there.He had only been crowned as emperor the year before and many of his subjects didn't know him. So this diet was to be a very important one, with lots of things on the agenda. Among them there was the summoning of a stubborn monk from Wittenberg who had spoken out against several parts of the church. He was supposed to abjure and the dukes and bishops could then pass on to the next point of the agenda. Only it didn't happen this way. The monk, Martin Luther, did not abjure, some of the dukes secretly helped him and the christian church became split. The reformation process was continuing.
Today, almost 500 years later, only very serious historicans know any of the other points of the agenda of this diet, while the impacts of Martin Luther's reform work can still be felt throughout the world.
Worms boasts of having the largest reformation memorial in the world. I don't know if this is true, but it certainly is a very large monument. It shows not only Luther himself, but many of the others who helped him, people from several European countries. Three female sculptures are symbolizing cities, protesting Speyer, (the city where the Protestant church got its name), peaceloving Augsburg (where Catholic and Protestant churches reached a truce) and mourning Magdeburg (which was completely destroyed by Catholic troups in the 30 years war).
This is a very impressive monument and needs some time. Walk around and have a look at the details of the sculptures.
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