One of the oldest cities in Europe, Worms was first settled by the Celts and later by the Romans. The Jewish cemetery in Worms (Heiliger Sand) dates to the 11th century and is generally believed to be the oldest in Europe. During the Middle Ages, Worms prospered as the city achieved imperial status in the Holy Roman Empire and its magnificent cathedral, the Cathedral of St. Peter was constructed between 1130 and 1181. Worms was the scene of numerous historical events, such as Martin Luther's refusal to recant his religious beliefs in 1521 which eventually touched off the Reformation. And many of the events in the ancient Germanic Nibelungen poem took place in Worms. Today, Worms is a pleasant city with a population of about 84,000.
Nestled in the Southern Wine Route, Landau is one of the largest wine growing regions in Germany. The city of 45,000 is surrounded by vineyards and wine villages. Many of the vineyards are family owned and sell their wine directly, or through one of the local cooperatives. Landau also borders on the Palatinate Forest, which together with the adjacent Vosges Mountains in France, is the largest contiguous forest in Europe.
Founded by the Romans, Speyer is one of Germany's oldest cities. The city is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral, which has been listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1981. The Romanesque cathedral is visible for miles around and is considered one of the most important Romanesque buildings in Germany. Indeed, eight Holy Roman Emperors and German kings are buried below the high altar. One cultural highlight of the year is the International Music Festival that is held in the Speyer Cathedral from August to October, which features choral, orchestral and organ works.
Nestled among ancient castles and steep vineyards, Mosbach is located in the heart of the Neckar River valley near the Odenwald. With a population of about 23,000, Mosbach is also the regional center of the surrounding towns and villages. During the summer months, the city hosts a wide range of cultural events at the historical market square or in the restored malthouse (Alte Mälzerei). The Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University also has a campus in Mosbach with more than 3,800 students.
Situated at the heart of the Palatinate wine region and close to the Alsace border of France, Neustadt is the hub of the German Wine Route. A town with a population of about 56,000, Neustadt is surrounded by nine neighboring wine villages. Numerous small wine villages, historic castles and vineyards. High above Neustadt is the Hambach Castle, which is a considered the birthplace of the German democracy movement because of a demonstration in 1832 in which 30,000 citizens demanded more civil rights, religious tolerance and national unity.
Weinheim is a picturesque town located along the Bergstraße and nestled on the western edge of the Odenwald Geopark. It is known as the "Two-Castle City" because of the two fortresses which overlook the town and are illuminated at night. For visitors, the first stop in the city is usually the Market Square with its numerous restaurants and historic buildings. But, it is also worthwhile to wander through the backstreets and parks of this authentic and historic city. The Arboretum, which is within walking distance of the city center, features more than 140 different tree species...including giant redwoods.