"Kaiserdom - Emperor's Hall and magic views" Top 5 Page for this destination Cathedral - Kaiserdom Tip by Trekki

Cathedral - Kaiserdom, Speyer: 43 reviews and 144 photos

In October 2012, after years of restoration, a very fascinating and exciting part of the Imperial Cathedral was opened to the public: frescoes by Schraudolph, displayed in the Emperor?s Hall.

Remember that during the cathedral?s rebuilding in 19th century the interior was all over painted with frescoes by Schraudolph and Schwarzmann in Nazarene style. Mid 20th century however, this style was disliked by art historians, so when the chapter planned to bring back as much as possible of the original Romanesque interior, it was decided to remove most of them, except the ones of Mother Mary?s life cycle. However, clever conservator Otto Schultz decided that some frescoes shouldn?t be destroyed but removed with a ? for mid 20th century ? fairly new technique: the painting layer was treated with casein and calcium hydroxide, then bone glue was applied and immediately fixed with pieces of linen cloth. After one day they could remove the linen layer and the reverse image of the frescoes was adhered at the inner side. Nine of the frescoes were rescued with this method. Over the last 30 years, Bavarian conservator Vitus Wurmdobler worked on these frescoes and brought them back to life. Now they are mounted on textile and on display in the Emperor?s Hall.

But it isn?t the ?display? alone. The LED illumination technique is very clever, done in a way that either the whole fresco or only parts and figures can be shown separately. The guide does this via tablet. I have read that the illumination was specifically designed to imitate the light conditions inside the cathedral in mid 19th century: candle light. This all to transport the visitor back into the times after Schraudolph painted the frescoes. The scenes really come to life now!! They show two saints, who have a specific meaning for Speyer?s Imperial Cathedral: Pope Stephen I, bishop of Rome, who is, together with Mother Mary, the cathedral?s patron saint since 11th century and whose skull was brought to Speyer by Salian Henry III and is part of the relic collection in the chapel dedicated to St. Catherine. The other frescoes show the scenes when Bernard de Clairvaux was in Speyer during Christmas 1146 and handed over the flag for the second crusade.
The heart of the frescoes though is the coronation of Mother Mary in heaven. This fresco was once in the upper main apse, hence painted on a vaulting. Now it is brought onto a special structure with exactly the same curvature as the apse has. You can see parts of it, by the way, when standing in the ?Paradise?: look up, there is a hole in the ceiling!

In addition to admiring the frescoes, visitors can also climb the south-western tower to the viewing platform. When the weather is good, the views are absolutely stunning, often as far as 60 kms/40 miles.

Some remarks:
If the views are something you really want to see, check the weather. In general, the weather is sunny, also in winter times, but due to the river it can be foggy in mornings, but clears up quite quickly. Bring a sweater because also in summer it can be chilly up there.
The whole experience involves stairs: 90 stairs up to the King?s Hall and further 214 stairs up to the viewing platform. Due to the architectural conditions there are no elevators, so it is not wheelchair accessible.

Opening hours:
April to October: weekdays 9:00 ? 19:00, Sundays: 12:00 ? 17:00,
November: weekdays 9:00 ? 17:00, Sundays: 12:00 ? 17:00.
Closed from December to March.

Entry fees:
3,50 Euro for adults, 15 Euro for families, reduced for kids, school classes and handicapped people.

The website of Speyer?s Cathedral also has an 11 pages brochure for download:
Guide to the Emperor?s Hall and Viewing Platform

Location of the Imperial Cathedral on Bing Maps.

© Ingrid D., September 2006 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.), January 2016: completely revised text and exchange of photos.

Address: Domplatz, 67346 Speyer
Phone: +49 - 6232 - 102-397
Website: http://www.dom-zu-speyer.de/1/planning-your-visit/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 1, 2016
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Comments (2)

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2016 at 5:28 AM

    Wonderful. You know, what I find so interesting about frescoes is not necessarily the different artistic styles but that when they portray people of the period in which they were painted - especially patrons who commissioned the pieces - those people are wearing the clothing of that era. That in itself is a bit of a history lesson!

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Oct 23, 2016 at 5:25 AM

      I've been learning as I go as well. As far as costuming, the same goes for portraits and other artistic pieces in museums, and even tomb sculptures. Paintings of domestic life: you can see what furnishings and decoration of the eras looked like. I find that stuff just fascinating.

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Oct 23, 2016 at 5:44 AM

      Oh yes :-))

  • german_eagle's Profile Photo
    Sep 6, 2015 at 9:31 AM

    Great views. Really good news that King's Hall is now open to visitors. Noted :-)

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Sep 6, 2015 at 9:43 AM

      :-)) The new views (southwestern tower) are even better, because you can see Maximilianstrasse and the gate tower :-))

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