"The jewel ? Speyer?s Imperial Cathedral" Top 5 Page for this destination Cathedral - Kaiserdom Tip by Trekki
Cathedral - Kaiserdom, Speyer: 43 reviews and 144 photos
This beautiful imperial cathedral. This harmonic comprehensive work of art. It is my most favourite church. Although I know it since my childhood, I still discover new details whenever I am inside or walk around it.
So why do I love this cathedral so much? First of all for its location. The medieval street layout of the city more or less still exists, like the path from the city’s gate tower towards the cathedral. The cathedral is built in a western-eastern orientation, so imagine how it must have been in medieval times when visitors arrived through the gate tower and at the end of this straight long street the cathedral rises before their eyes. I found a description from historian Prof. Weinfurter, one of the best experts for this period in time, where he says that people were almost pulled by this invisible thread through the street into the cathedral and via the choir or quire directly into heaven and to god. This is what I want to show in my main photo. Almost 1000 years have passed since the first stone was laid in 1030, but still, I have a similar feeling when I walk through the town gate towards the cathedral. The street does not end in front of the cathedral but leads to the large plaza between town and church. Of all the grand cathedrals I know only St. Peter in Rome has a comparable conception of a street and spacious square directing into the church and then to heaven.
So this is another specific feature making Speyer’s cathedral so special for me. You can stand there and admire the magnificent western portal with all the details and still can see it as a whole because you don’t stand just in front of it and have to crick your neck. For me this moment when I stand at the end of the street it always has a kind of meditation moment. A long meditation moment. A very intense feeling of spirituality. I feel very tiny and this all fills me with awe. And I can almost feel that this is exactly the emotion the emperors who have constructed the cathedral once intended. 1000 years ago.
When Konrad II was crowned king of Germany in 1024, later of the Holy Roman Empire, he was the first of Salian dynasty in this position. Hence he wanted to set his mark and build a cathedral for God and the King. He decided to have it built in Speyer which, at that time, was only a small settlement. He planned to build the grandest of the churches in the world of his times, built for god and meant to be the centre of his (and his dynasty’s) world. His grandson, Henry IV, enlarged the original cathedral and by early 12th century it was finished and consecrated. By that time it was larger in length than Old St. Peter’s Basilica. From the beginning it was meant to be burial ground for the Salian kings, who rest in the beautiful crypt. Over the following years Speyer and the cathedral were badly destroyed during the War of Palatinate Succession in 1689 and later during French Revolution. Restoration took place after each of these tragedies, and anytime the cathedral’s appearance was adapted to the respective times. However, when Speyer and Palatinate belonged to the Kingdom Bavaria, decision was made to restore the cathedral in Neo Romanesque style. This resulted in an appearance very similar to the original shape, if you compare the shapes it had in 1106 and 1858 in the building stages.
This is fascinating and for me this makes the cathedral even more captivating because I love walking around it finding structures from 19th century resembling the ones of 12th century. Take the blind arches for example: the original ones are at the apse but the ones on the western portal are almost the same. The dwarf gallery, once leading around the whole structure, was rebuilt during the 19th century restoration work and it looks so similar to the original above the apse. Still many Romanesque details are visible, especially at the apse and on the southern side. The whole building looks homogeneous, although only part of it is its original structure.
I also like the fact that the area around the cathedral, which was full with other buildings during the past times, is now free of buildings which makes the whole cathedral free standing and not surrounded by buildings. Like an eternal ship which is meant to sail to heaven. Have a look at the -> aerial photo to see what I mean.
The cathedral is UNESCO heritage since 1981. For many reasons. This and because I find the individual parts of it so captivating, I am covering each separately.
Starting with the -> Western Portal.
Location of the Imperial Cathedral on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., September 2006 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), August 2015: completely revised text and exchange of photos.
Address: Domplatz, 67346 Speyer
Phone: +49 - 6232 - 102-397
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