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"Magnificent interior of the Imperial Cathedral" Top 5 Page for this destination Cathedral - Kaiserdom Tip by Trekki

Cathedral - Kaiserdom, Speyer: 43 reviews and 144 photos

by Trekki
  • - Speyer
  • (the old organ, before 2011) - Speyer
      (the old organ, before 2011)
    by Trekki
  • - Speyer
  • - Speyer

Even if you saw photos of the cathedral or saw it in documentaries – nothing will prepare you for the magnificent captivating interior. Every time I enter the cathedral through the main portalI feel very tiny, and am awestruck. For me it is definitely the grandest and one of the most spiritual of the churches. Even compared to St. Peter in Rome. Maybe because the interior is so simple and almost without decoration which means that visitors and believers alike are not distracted from the purpose of a church, this church: a place for prayer, which leads to god, which is the house of god. Very certainly this was the idea behind the original cathedral building by the Salians in 11th century: that the faithful come to god, god who has implemented the emperors. Faith and impression.

Why do I love the interior so much? It is the symmetry, this incredible symmetry everywhere. Maybe also influenced by an impressive number “code” the builders have implied: 12 – for the Twelve Apostles and the tribes of Israel, 6 – for the days of creation, 8 – for the eight holy days. A length of 4 x 111 feet, 4 representing the length of human life on earth. For the pillars, 50 was implied: 50 feet from the ground to the middle capitals and then to the windows high above: Pentecost as the 50th day after Resurrection of Christ. I like the cathedral also because there is a clear east-west orientation. The entrance in the west, the choir and altar in the east – the path to god is clear. This is different in the other two Romanesque cathedrals build during a similar time: the one in Worms and the one in Mainz: they have choirs/quires to both east and west.

When you enter the cathedral, remember that what you see inside is partly the result of an extensive restoration in 20th century. A major part behind this was the idea to recreate the original structure as close as possible – the magnificent and mighty Romanesque cathedral. Following the rebuilding under the Bavarian Kings in 19th century the cathedral was painted all over inside. This work was done by Johann Baptist Schraudolph, a Bavarian artist. All frescoes except the 24 of Old and New Testament and Life of Mother Mary were removed mid of 20th century. But not all are lost but are on display in the Emperor’s Hall above the Great Paradise since 2012.

Have a look at the so-called “Volksaltar”, the congregation altar or people’s altar, which is the one used for daily mass service. Next to it is the beautiful statue of St. Mary, a replica of the original one which was burnt by the French troops in 1794. Above it is an oversized replica of Konrad II’s burial crown, which can be seen in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate.

Walk around. Take in the splendid holy atmosphere. Walk around and look at the almost magic symmetry inside the cathedral. I find this especially prominent in the side naves’ western walls (last photo). Look at the magnificent double chapels on the southern side, dedicated to St. Emeram and St. Catherine. These were already part of the original cathedral built by the Salians in 11th century.

Another interesting detail for those who have visited St. Peter in Rome: on the floor of St. Peter’s are -> markers for the largest churches, and yes, there is one, number 9, marking the size of -> the Imperial Cathedral of Speyer.

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday: April to October from 09:00 - 19:00, November to March from 09:00 - 17:00,
Sundays: 12:00 – 18:00.

For visitors who would like to know more about the cathedral, the diocese offers -> guided tours in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish. But please book in advance to make sure that the respective guides are available.

No entrance fee applies for the visit of the cathedral. However, there is an entrance fee for the the crypt, Emperor’s Hall and climbing the towers.

Dress appropriately when visiting the Cathedral. Please refrain from screaming and shouting, also make sure that children remain at low level. After all, this is a place of worship.

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: Speyer, Cathedral Plaza
Phone: +49 - 6232 - 102-397

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 26, 2015
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Comments (3)

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2016 at 5:02 AM

    That east-west orientation and 'code' is present in so many churches: I mentioned biblical numerology in a review about Jeruzalemkapel in Brugge!

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Oct 23, 2016 at 5:10 AM

      Oh, did I read this already? I was hesitating because I saw that you were still working on Brugge.

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Oct 23, 2016 at 5:15 AM

      *sigh* Ingrid, I'm forever working on EVERYTHING. Slowpoke, me.

  • wabat's Profile Photo
    Sep 29, 2016 at 4:56 AM

    Most impressive.. I was surprised to see how large (massive) it was when I saw your fourth picture here.

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Sep 29, 2016 at 7:57 AM

      Yes, it is massive and impressive. I think no photo (not even the one from above) can show how large it is.

  • Aug 26, 2015 at 12:50 PM

    wow! impressive for sure! although I find more spiritual the small humble chapels, cathedrals like this remind me of kings so I take a step back... by instinct :)

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Aug 26, 2015 at 11:02 PM

      I like the smaller chapels too, like your suggestion. But this is where I grew up and I love it because it is not overdone and sparsely decorated and also so symmetric.

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