Photos from Speyer

 

Speyer is a small town of some 50,000 inhabitants on the banks of the River Rhine in the eastern part of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. One of the oldest towns in Germany, archeological evidence suggests that Speyer was a celtic settlement around 500 B.C.. Later, in 10 B.C., it became the site of a Roman military base. The name "Spira" was first mentioned in documents dating back to around the beginning of the 6th century A.D. In the year 346 A.D. mention was made of Speyer's bishop.

In medieval times, Speyer was a very important administrative centre in the German Empire. Some 50 Reichstage (Imperial Diets) were held here and in 1294 the town became one of the few "free cities" of the This is the image of a wooden cut of an Imperial Diet in Speyer. The woodcut was made in 1570. Holy Roman Empire. With Mainz and Worms, Speyer emerged as one of the most important centers for Jews in Germany and central Europe by the 13th century. The Cathedral in Speyer was one of the largest churches in its day. At the Imperial Diet of 1526, interim toleration of Lutheran teaching and worship was decreed, but at the subsequent Diet in 1529, the way for paved in Speyer for the final split of the Roman church (into catholicism and protestantism) as six German Lutheran Princes and fourteen towns "protested" against the decision of Emperor Charles V and his catholic allies to revoke the Wormser tolerance edict of 1521. In 1527 the German Imperial Supreme Court was established in Speyer where it remained until the town's near complete destruction at the hands of the French army on the orders of King Louis XIV in 1689. Fortunately, Speyer suffered hardly any collateral damage during World War II. 

Today Speyer is but a shadow of its former self. The town has little industry and a large proportion of its income is based on tourism but its landmarks remain and few other German towns its size can offer such elegance as the this quaint little town in the Palatinate. It boasts, among other attractions, the famous medieval Kaiserdom (see photos below), several splendid churches, the jewish ritual bath, the Altpoertl, the historical museum of the Palatinate and the technical museum. It has some really nice restaurants too :=) And, last but not least, since 1947 Speyer is home to the German University of Administrative Sciences, Germany's leading institution for higher education in public administration. My six years (1998 - 2005) in Speyer were spent studying at this university where I earned a master's degree in public administration in 2000 and a doctoral degree in 2004.    

I took many photos in Speyer during the years I resided there. Some of these photos are shown below. The town's official website is here.

 

  The Speyer Kaiserdom - the great Cathedral of Speyer - is one of Germany's major architectural landmarks. In 1981 it was placed by the United Nations Scientific, Education and Cultural Organization UNESCO on the world heritage list. The foundation stone was laid around 1030 during the reign of Emperor Konrad II and it was consecrated in 1061. For years it was reportedly the largest stone structure north of the Alps. Though it's face has changed significantly over the years, the cathedral is one of the largest churches in Europe and dominates the Speyer skyline. Several German Emperors chose the cathedral as their final resting place and their graves can be visited in the crypt. No visit to Speyer can be called complete without visiting the Kaiserdom.
 
  A view of the nave and alter inside the Kaiserdom. One really has to be there to appreciate the vastness of the place. The whole cathedral is 133 metres long. The towering pillars flanking the passage exude power and greatness and suspended over the alter is a huge replica of the crown of the German Emperors. 

By the way, all photos of the Kaiserdom on this webpage were taken on September 12th, 2004. This was the "Day of Open Monuments" in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and this part of the Kaiserdom, which is normally off-limits for tourists, was opened on that day.

   
 
  The photo on the left shows a number of paintings in the Dom. These are actually a "recent" addition, having been made when Speyer was under Bavarian rule in the 19th century. Not everybody appreciates these paintings though.

The photo on the right shows the "Kaisersaal" situated above the Dom's entrance portal. It is occasionally used for concerts. What a beautiful statue of the virgin Mary and her child I found there.

   
 
  After having seen the Kaisersaal our gropup pushed on to explore the interior and upper areas of the cathedral. There were a number of steps to climb and it got quite narrow at times as can be seen from the two photos in this set. The whole atmosphere was one of an old, little frequented place and I wonder how it must have felt in medieval times.  
 
    The powerful big bell of the Dom and some smaller bells. The big bell, which weighs tonnes, was really something to look at and while standing next to it I had to wonder what would happen to my eardums were it to start clanging!    
 
  Our group being led down a walkway deep inside the Dom. There were a number of these and they were narrow. On top of it, I had to stoop at places to keep my head from hitting some object. The walkway, like all the others I saw, was made of wooden beams. I wonder what would happen to the Dom if a fire were to break out here and how difficult it would be to contain.
 
  What a view from the Dom! It's really only a day like this - the "day of open monuments" - that one has the priviledge of seeing such a pretty sight. These views look towards the Maximilianstrasse and the surrounding streets. If you look at the enlarged version of the photo on the left, you can see the upper part of the Altpoertel between the right tower and the dome.    
 
  Another spectacular view. The photo on the right shows the "Heydentuermchen", with its cute towers dating back to about 1280. It used to be a part of the wall surrounding Speyer in ancient times.  
 
  More view of Speyer from the Dom. In the enlargement of the first photo on the right note the Lufthansa airplane suspended on a pole. This is at the famous technical museum of Speyer where you will find not only commercial and military planes, but also a rusted submarine and all types of vehicles dating back almost a century. Do visit this museum if you're in Speyer! Attached to the museum is an IMAX cinema. while I lived in Speyer there were just a few of these in Germany.    
 
  It seems I couldn't get enough of the lovely views which the Dom offered. Here are some more snapshots.     
 
    Yet more views. Several Speyer landmarks are visible in the photo on the left. Note the river Rhine in the photo on the right. It played a major role in Speyer's history and today passes by quite close to the Dom.    
 
  This photo was taken in a street which I often walked through to get to the town center. The two tall spires in the back are from St. Joseph's Church. This catholic church was constructed at the beginning of the twentieth century. The building in the middle belongs to a primary school and nursery. A lot of kiddies were always hanging around in the day. 
 
  One of my favourite houses in Speyer. I loved walking past this one and just appreciating the simple cottage-like structure set amidst these beautiful trees. In the back of the photo on the left, the upper section of the Altpoertel is visible.      

 

  A photo of the Speyerer Dom taken in February 2005. The photo on the right shows the interior of the lutheran church "Dreifaltigkeitskirche" which was built between 1701 and 1707. The interior furnishings are wooden baroque architecture and very colourful. The church has hardly changed over these past three centuries. Though small, it's really a very nice place to visit and a treat to the eye to look at.    
 
  This photo (like the two above and the four directly below) was taken in February 2005 by my friend Linda Heintz when she came to visit me. In the background is the famous Altpoertel, one of Speyer's major landmarks. Standing 55 metres high, the Altpoertl is one of the few of the numerous gates of the wall around Speyer from medieval times which has remained intact over time. The lower section was constructed between 1230 and 1250, the midsection between 1512-1514 and the upper section with the slanting roof and pavillion in 1708. From the upper section, tourists can have a magnificent view of Speyer.  
 
    This photo set was taken at the "Judenbad" (Jewish Bath or Mikwe) in the former jewish quarter of Speyer. The town was a very important center for German jewry in the middle ages and the bath has survived the centuries  almost completely intact. It was used by Speyers jewish community for the purpose of ritual cleansing.     

 

 

 

    These photos were taken in February 2005 from my appartment on the fifth floor at Blaulstrasse 1A where I resided from October 2004 to March 2005. The view of Speyer is splendid but that was really the only positive thing about this place.
 
  Two photos taken by Linda Heintz in February 2005 on the banks of the river Rhein in Speyer. A very scenic spot and a great place to take an extended walk. I liked kidding around with that sculpture. It was frightfully cold though as you can guess from the way I'm all padded up.    
 
  The two photos on the left and right, and the five ones below were taken when Markus Hoffmann visited me in October 2004. Markus is a professional photographer and resides in Darmstadt. After walking around the center of Speyer we wandered in to the Sealife Aquarium. It was an interesting place to see but I was a bit disappointed to see a motley collection of small fish and no big nasty ones.

All photos taken in this series were taken by Markus.

 
 
       
 
  These two older photos from 2000 or 2001 show me in the company of my friend Egbert Eimers (standing to my left), and his friend Hans (guy in the suit on my right). They visited me in Speyer one day and we had a nice walk around town. In the photo on the right, which was taken at the enchanting protestant church and famous Speyer landmark "Gedaechtniskirche" close to my appartment, Egbert and I are standing in front of the statue of the great German reformer Martin Luther, which towers over the path leading to the main entrance of the church. Built between 1893 and 1904, the Church's steeple stands 100 metres high.    
 
  The photo on the left was taken in my basement appartment at the Paul-Egell-Strasse 15, where I resided from 1998-99. My friends are (from left to right): Christian Sissao from Burkina Faso, Klaus Gruetjen from Germany, Christian Sissao's wife Ami, and Dagmar Vankova from the Czech Republic. The photo on the right was taken in front of my appartment in the Mittelkaemmererstrasse 14 where I resided from 1999-2004. To my side are Klaus Gruetjen and his girl friend Aji from Senegal. The silver Opel Corsa behind us was mine and I drove it 48,000 kilometers on German roads. I sold it in summer 2004.    

 

 

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