Considered to be one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture, the Speyer Cathedral towers above the city and is visible for miles. First commissioned in 1024, the Speyer Cathedral is the largest Romanesque church in the western world. Eight German Kings and Holy Roman Emperors are buried below the high altar, signifying the importance of the cathedral in German history. During the modern era, the cathedral was repeatedly occupied and ransacked. Napoleon's troops used it as their stable. In 1925, the Pope raised the cathedral to the rank of minor basilica. And in 1981, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites.
Domplatz ; 67346 Speyer
German Wine Route
The German Wine Route starts in the north at the Wine Gate in Bockenheim and ends about 85 kilometers later at the impressive stone tower in Schweigen-Rechtenbach, not far from the French border. Along the route, there are numerous picturesque towns and family-owned vineyards. Thanks to the mild climate, this region is also known for the cultivation of figs, lemons and even kiwis. The German Wine Route is one of the major tourism destinations in Germany, well-known for its friendly atmosphere and world-class wines which are often sold directly from the winery. Along the way there are numerous accommodations, ranging from simple B&Bs to world-class hotels. In addition, the region hosts numerous wine festivals throughout the year.
The 1000-year-old Worms Cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of High Romanesque architecture in Germany. Over the centuries, the cathedral has been the scene of several significant events in European history. It was here in 1521 that Martin Luther refused to recant before the Diet of Worms, an act of defiance that touched off the Reformation across Europe. An episode from the epic Germanic mythical poem Nibelungen also took place at the north portal of the church. To commemorate this, the city now stages the Nibelungen Festival on a outdoor stage in front of the cathedral.
Obermarkt 10; 67547 Worms
Ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lorsch Monastery was first built in 764 and abandoned in the second half of the 16th century. The Benedictine cloister is an archaeological site where excavations are permanently undertaken and the museum center encompasses three museums for history, tobacco and folklore. The historical museum depicts the development of the monastery through the Carolingian era and exhibits numerous artifacts (mostly replicas) and books from the famous cloister library. Gardens are a typical trademark of Benedictine monks and at this monastery, two gardens can be found in which medicinal herbs and other plants are grown.
Nibelungenstraße 32; 64653 Lorsch
Tel: +49 (0) 6251-103 82 11
Holy Sands in Worms
Generally believed to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe, the Holy Sands in Worms was probably established when the first synagogue in Worms was built in 1034. Numerous Jewish scholars are buried there and the cemetery has become a place of pilgrimage for Jews from all over the world. Altogether, there are about 2,000 graves in the cemetery. In 1911, a new Jewish cemetery was established outside the city. Because no new interments took place after this, Holy Sands survived the terrors of the Nazi regime largely unscathed.
Willy-Brandt-Ring; 67547 Worms
Upper German-Raetian Limes
The ancient Roman border is one of the most impressive archaeological monuments in central Europe, stretching over 550 kilometers from the North Sea outlet of the Rhine river to the Danube river near Regensburg. At its height, the Limes (Latin for frontier) comprised 900 watchtowers and 120 forts. In 2005, the Limes was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site(together with Hadrian's Wall in Great Britain ).In Germany, the Limes crosses four states: Rhineland-Palatinate, Hessen, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Exploration of this historical trail is possible with or without professionally guided tours along the hiking and biking paths. It is recommended to check the website for more detailed information, maps and current events.
Palatinate Wine Hiking Trail
The Palatinate Wine Hiking Trail is considered one of the best ways to experience the forests and wine culture in the Palatinate region. It runs for 153 kilometers along a well-marked path from the northern most edge of the Haardt foothills to the French border in Alsace. The route starts in the narrow medieval streets of Neuleiningen, then winds through many wine villages to Bad Dürkheim, Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Annweiler am Trifels and Bad Bergzabern and finally ends at an impressive stone tower in Schweigen. It is often possible to buy (and enjoy) wine directly at vineyards along the trail. Other highlights include the ruins of numerous castles, the Hambach Castle, Villa Ludwigshöhe and the 673-meter-high Kalmit mountain.
Simply put, a vinotheque is a wine-tasting shop located directly at the vineyard. But it is really more than that. A vinotheque provides a unique insight into the vineyard, the winegrowing philosophy and the Palatinate wine culture. Vineyards offer samples of their wines in an attractive setting and then wine can be bought directly by the
bottle. Vinotheques are becoming increasingly popular in the Palatinate, in part because they offer an excellent way for small vineyards to present their wines. There are numerous vinotheques along the German Wine Route, but here are three selected addresses:
Am Goldberg 6; 67281 Bissersheim
Tel: +49 (0)6359-2490
Sektkellerei Schreier & Kohn
Hauptstraße 36; 7229 Großkarlbach
Tel: +49 (0)6238-2100
Am Osterberg 1; 67229 Großkarlbach
Tel: +49 (0)6238-2000
Mountains, castles, woods and wines characterize the Bergstraße tourist route, where the almond trees are in bloom while the last snow still lies on the slopes of the Odenwald. The Bergstraße, which leads from Darmstadt to Heidelberg, is a paradise for walkers, cyclists, canoeists and outdoors enthusiasts. Excellent wines are grown on the protected mountain slopes. Zwingenberg, Bensheim and Heppenheim are the best-known "Pearls of the Bergstraße" along the route. The ruins of the Frankenstein castle are where the English writer Mary Shelley found inspiration for her novel Frankenstein and where modern-day Halloween parties are held. Each city along the Bergstraße has its own fortress and Weinheim has two. Apart from the incredible view, nearly all of them have a restaurant serving food and some of the best Riesling in Germany.
Water Tower Mannheim
Originally built in 1866 with the practical purpose of supplying drinking water, the ornate water tower in Mannheim has now become the city's landmark. It sits amid the impressive Friedrichsplatz, an elaborate French garden and park with fountains which are illuminated at night. The baroque water tower has an intricately designed open staircase and various sculptures. The Mannheim Christmas market takes place at the foot of the Water Tower, and it is also a location for concerts and events.
Augustaanlage 29; 68165 Mannheim www.mannheim.de
Sitting high above the picturesque town of Annweiler, the Trifels Castle provides a glimpse into the medieval era in Europe. The castle was first mentioned in 1081 and over the centuries was used by German kings and emperors. Most famously, King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart) was imprisoned here for three weeks in 1192 after he was captured by Duke Leopold V of Austria on his return from the Third Crusade. Today, the castle has been restored with an extensive historic exhibition of imperial regalia.
76829 Annweiler am Trifels