"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad



This past weekend we took a day trip to the city of Speyer, which is situated on the Rhine River and only 25 km from Heidelberg. Speyer is a fairly quiet town these days, but during the Middle Ages it was a key player in the Holy Roman Empire.

Here is Maximilianstrasse, an unusually broad and straight road originally built with parades of Roman troops in mind. Most of the older buildings were destroyed in 1689 during the Thirty Year's War, so now it is lined with pastel Baroque buildings. No cars are allowed on this road, so it feels quite wide and open when you walk down it. The old gate to the city is at the end of it in the distance.

Turning around, the Kaiserdom (Imperial Cathedral) is at the other end of Maximilianstrasse.

The Dom is the reason most people come to visit Speyer. It is known as the world's best preserved Romanesque church, and it is HUGE!

The crazy thing is that construction was started in 1030, and it wasn't until 1858 that it was finished.

This side view of the Dom illustrates the patchwork-quilt of building styles and materials that were pieced together over the centuries.

One well known visitor to the Speyer Dom is French Abbot Bernard de Clairvaux. This is not Bernard below, but rather the other half of my family.

Here is a view of the other side of the Dom, where the choir and apse sections of the church are located. You can also get a glimpse of the huge octagonal cupola behind the two towers, under which sits the high altar.

The inside feels large and open, but there isn't much by way of stained glass or furnishings, except for these huge portraits protraying the events from the life of the Virgin Mary.

The Speyer Dom is also well known for its ancient Crypt. Here is a (terrible) picture of Penelope and I contemplating our baptism next to the oldest baptismal font north of the Alps.

It was cut from one stone.

In the other part of the crypt are the tombs of emperors from the 11th-14th centuries. This one is of Henry V, the last Salian Emperor.

In another part of the Dom is a room displaying several Christian relics. One of them is a part of St. Elizabeth of Hungary's shroud (celebrated saint of Marburg, where we were before Heidelberg). Another interesting one is this decorated bone from (?) "Seliger Paul Josef Nardin." No idea who that is, but must have been pretty special to get his bone on display.

After the Dom, we went to an exhibit at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz about the rise of witches within early modern Europe. After we were done browsing the "adult" part of the exhibit, we took Penelope to the "children's" part. Here is Penelope trying on her own witch costume. She looked at herself in the mirror for a few seconds, and then became scared and started wimpering.

In fact, she spent much of the time in the children's museum holding on to us and wimpering.

She did enjoy exploring the room with slanted floors and walls. She was quite perplexed.

And so ends our visit to the town of Speyer.

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