Wednesday, December 2, 2015

2014 Germany Trip - Speyer

Location: Speyer, Germany

Itinerary and full experience of my visit to Germany can be accessed through the link below:

The purpose of my arrival in Speyer was singular – to visit the UNESCO World Heritage that shared the town’s name, the Speyer Cathedral. In fact I spent less than half a day touring the town area from the train station to the river Rhine which bordered the town.

Interested readers be warned though, this series of my visit to Speyer visits only churches and cathedrals. If you are not into religious architectures and UNESCO heritage buildings, then Speyer may not be a suitable destination for you.

A view down Maximilianstrasse, the famous main street which leads unobstructed to Speyer Cathedral.

To the interested readers, here is my 1 day itinerary in Speyer - in fact it took less than 6 hours in total if I wanted to but I spent some time for a stroll to get to know the town better. Click into each link to visit the dedicated post to the place of interest.

  • arrive in Speyer train station around 11 a.m.
  • took a selfie with its Altpörtel, the old gate of Speyer and Alte Münze, the Old Mint (<0.5 hour)

  • visit Speyer Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1 - 1.5 hours)
  • visit Dreifaltigkeitskirche, an unassuming building hiding a beautiful fresco (1 hour)
  • visit Gedächtniskirche and marvel at its beautiful stained glass windows (1 hour)
  • take a stroll around the old town all the way to the river (1 – 2 hours) 
  • day ends and head back to my point of origin

The town of Speyer has a long history, extending back to the Roman times. It was once a border town of the Roman Empire after the conquest of Gaul, their base for further invasion into the east of the Rhine. There were few points along the Rhine where it could be close enough to the river to use it yet far enough to avoid being flooded, and Speyer is one of those points, thus making it an important town throughout the history of the region.

Rathaus (town hall)

Stadthaus (city hall)

Stadthaus closer look

Alte Münze (Old Mint)

Its most famous landmark and the usual reason tourists dropped by is the Speyer Cathedral, a building which was built in 1030 and survived centuries albeit not unscathed. The grandness of the cathedral was enhanced by the almost pencil straight street of Maximilianstraße, providing an unobstructed view and path towards the monument for everyone entering from Altpörtel, the old gate of Speyer. UNESCO inscribed the cathedral into its list of world heritages in 1981 for being a major Romanesque monument in the German Empire.

Speyer gave me an impression of it being a town of churches and cathedrals. Its UNESCO heritage listed Speyer Cathedral aside, there were quite a number of churches in the town. Every few blocks would bring me to one of them, beautifully intimidating in their own unique way. The famous cathedral may have immortalized itself with a place in UNESCO’s list but it was Gedächtniskirche which won a place in my heart with its kaleidoscopic stained glass interior and Dreifaltigkeitskirche with its breath taking fresco hidden within an unassuming exterior.

A shot of Speyer Cathdral from Maximilianstrasse

Speyer Cathedral and Stadthaus


The significance of this statue, which marks the Palatine Way of St James, is famously known among religious pilgrims undertaking the pilgrimage. The Way of St James has numerous starting points and routes throughout Europe, and this statue marks the beginning of the Palatine Way.

Another shot of Speyer Cathedral

St George slayed the dragon, a striking golden statue on the top of a fountain along Maximilianstrasse. The site of the fountain is originally occupied by a church dedicated to St George, and the fountain itself is a memorial to the fallen armed forced of World War 1.

Bravely facing the moon

Speyer taught me one thing about traveling – not to focus your visit on just the landmarks and on ticking off checklists. The short 15 minute walk from Speyer train station to its old town brought me past residential areas, including some beautiful architecture adorning public and private buildings, which I could have missed out on if were I to rush through my schedule. Sometimes I would stop in front of one and try to understand its purpose with my limited German knowledge.

I had some time to kill before I needed to head to the train station so I strolled to the back of the cathedral all the way to the Rhine. It was a wander without any purpose but it brought me to a spatter of apartments facing an offshoot of the river equipped for yachts. Where the river was churning this branch was serene, the yachts barely waving. Needless to say I was immediately envious to the occupants of those apartment for waking up to such a nice scene everyday.


Apartments facing the river offshoot

A serene branch with yachts

Going back to Speyer Cathedral

A pair of carved statues near Dreifaltigkeitskirche.

Residential playground

Back alley

Sunrise to sunset

Even a bank can be architecturally appealing

A corner near Altpörtel

Municipal Library, housed in Villa Ecarius, a red brick German Renaissance building built in the end of the 19th century according to plans of a Heinrich Jester for a double villa.

Another view of the municipal library. Damn, I wish our libraries are like this...


The yellow house at the end of the road

Religious locales aside, there existed a transportation museum displaying various large scale exhibits, including planes and submarines. It was with great regret in hindsight that I chose to skip this in my original itinerary as I only realized what I missed when I read about this place later. Any nerd worth his salt should pay the museum a visit.

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