Last week we showed you the Cathedral in Speyer. It is impressive, and easily the most popular attraction in Speyer. After leaving the Cathedral, we walked around the rest of the town. Since it was Sunday, nothing else was open, and the Christmas markets were not yet open. However, we were surprised to see how busy the city was!
I had been to Speyer a couple of weeks prior with coworkers, and we did a guided tour. I showed Aaron a couple of the spots that we went to on the tour. One of them was the Driefeltigkeitkirche (Trinity Church). It is a Lutheran church built in the early 1700s and was one of the first buildings to be erected after the city was badly damaged by a fire. Unfortunately, years of use and burning candles have darkened the paintings, making it difficult to photograph. Fortunately, it will be undergoing a restoration starting next year and continuing until 2017. One of the interesting tidbits about the church is that the first 10 - 12 rows have two benches in them, facing each other. At first, I thought these were just really high kneelers, but the tour guide a few weeks ago informed of us their real use. The minister stands off to the side in a pulpit to preach so these doubled benches allow those in the front of the church to turn around to watch the minister without craning their necks.
We then walked through the Altstadt, but, being Sunday, everything was closed. There were some restaurants and bakeries open, and the Christmas markets were being set up, but other than that, everything was dark. At the opposite end of the street from the Cathedral stands the old city gate. It is was nearly destroyed during in the fire (the French wanted to demolish it!), but thankfully it was saved by a group of Carmelite nuns. Construction of the tower began in 1230 and it was the western entrance to the city (it used to be walled). The tower also houses the Speyer standard foot, which is an iron bar of a standard (for the time) length that the citizens could use to, obviously, measure things. What I wish I would have known when we were there is that you can climb the tower. I'm always up for a good tower hike, so I'm a little disappointed to learn of this after the fact.
Our stroll through Speyer continued because we noticed another church spire. As we got closer to it, an even more impressive spire in the Gothic style caught our eye. I mean, how can a Gothic spire not catch your eye? With all the intricate stone work, the buttresses, the foreboding gargoyles, it's hard to miss. I was slightly dissappointed to learn that this cathedral, formerly Gedächtniskirch der Protestation, the Memorial Church of the Protestation, was built not multiple hundreds of years ago as it's design suggests, but at the turn of the 20th century. It was built as a memorial to the protestation that took place in Speyer (and hence started the Protestant movement in Europe) in 1529. We walked around inside, hoping we could climb the bell tower, but no such luck. It was dark inside and had a much different feel than a Roman Catholic cathedral. We've been in a number of Cathedrals over the years and we are getting pretty good at determining which ones are Catholic and which aren't.
Speyer is also home to an aquarium and a Technoseum. We didn't have time to visit them on this trip, but you can bet that the Technoseum is on our list of things to do. I mean, they have a Lufthansa 747 that you can tour, and walk out on the wing! Not to mention that Aaron and I are total nerds when it comes to that stuff.
Anyone else wandering around 2000 year old cities recently? Or staying close to home and discovering something new?
- Meghan -