Dom Zu Speyer - Cathedral Architecture & Frescoes (RLP - Germany)

The main reason we visited Speyer Cathedral Germany was because is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Germany. It is infact the 2nd site in Germany to be listed under UNESCO after Aachen Cathedral.SPEYERSpeyer is a city, but not as busy as major cities like Frankfurt or Berlin. It is relaxed, it is historic and it is picturesque. To some extent it reminded me of Trier, another German City but feels more like a town with its narrow lanes, city scape, lifestyle etc. Like Trier, Speyer is also a part of the Holy Roman Empire and an historic Roman City and has been occupied since 10 BCE. It is located in the banks of Rhine River (yes, the same river whose portion forms another UNESCO site of Upper Middle Rhine Valley).DOM ZU SPEYER - SPEYER CATHEDRAL SPEYER CATHEDRAL HISTORY The origins of this Cathedral is from 1025 CE when King Conrad II built it to be his last resting place. In 1090 CE, his grandson Henry IV expanded the cathedral. However in 17th C, the Cathedral (along with the rest of Speyer town) was destroyed by French troops under Louis XIV. It was restored in 18th C only to be destroyed again in Napoleonic Wars in 19th C, after which it was temporarily even used as an army hospital. After all this, in 1815, it was rebuilt under King Ludwig I of Bavaria. In 1957, it was restored back to its original medieval glory and soon in 1981, it made it to the UNESCO World Heritage list.SPEYER CATHEDRAL ARCHITECTURE & SCULPTURESFirst thing that you'd notice as soon as you enter the cathedral is that is humongous & just plain without any colors, paintings or stained glass windows! Even before you enter there's a humongous font in front of the cathedral. During celebrations, this is filled with....... guess what..... wine! The local wine of this region is called Palatinate wine (this is different from Mosel wine). The windows are perfectly arched true to the original Romanesque architecture. It is one of the important Romanesque Cathedrals in the world. Though the church was destroyed several times through history it was always built back to its original architecture. There are very few sculptures in this Cathedral, which lends furthermore to the plain & empty feeling. The entire architecture has a lot of symbolizations to it, like - Speyer Cathedral plan looks like a crucifix, 12 arches denoting 12 apostles, 6 vaults denoting 6 days of creation etc. SPEYER CATHEDRAL FRESCOES (EMPEROR'S HALL) The entire cathedral was extensively painted by Johann Baptist Schraudolph in mid 19th C CE under King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Today some of these frescoes are still in the original location, in the nave, on either sides as soon as you enter, between the pillars, above the arches. From 1957 CE, a major restoration happened to revert the Cathedral back to how it was in the medieval times. That means, removal of the frescoes!!! However these works of art were too brilliant to be just white-washed. So the restorers came up with a technique to peel off the major frescoes and protect them by mounting them on custom-made platforms in the same shape as the wall (esp., the curvature of the dome). Today, the major frescoes, esp., the ones that were on the ceiling have been preserved in the Emperor's Hall in the upper floor of the Cathedral. These frescoes are of Blessed Mother Mary and life of patron saint St.Stephen of Speyer. One of the fresco is of St.Bernard of Clairvaux in his documented visit to Speyer in 1146. The largest fresco, the one on the dome was of Coronation of Virgin Mary which is more than 80sqm. There is a splendid view of the unremoved frescoes, over the arches of the nave, from Emperor's Hall. I kept wondering how they managed to peel & conserve the frescoes. Its a technique that could be used worldwide to protect very many historic art. I'm yet to learn about it. Right Pic Courtesy: By © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0DOM ZU SPEYER TOWER Climbing further ahead, 214 more steps upwards from the Emperor's Hall (totaling to 304 steps from ground) leads to the Tower's viewpoint at 60m high. This is the southwestern tower. There are places to stop & take rest along the climb, till a certain point. Then its a restless upward spiral which really needs some energy and endurance. I really got tired here because I climbed this with Atyudarini in a babywrap on my back. But then it is worth it because the view from atop is fantastic, esp of the mighty Rhine river. Do keep in mind that there is no elevator, so the Emperor's Hall & Tower are not accessible with stroller or wheelchair.SPEYER CATHEDRAL CRYPT & EMPERORS TOMBS The crypt of Speyer Cathedral is the largest Romanesque crypt in the world comprised of 4 rooms. The portion below the choir is the oldest portion in the whole of the cathedral. Being a historic Roman city, very many important Roman Emperors wished to be buried in this site and there are a whopping 14 identified (+ a few more unidentified) graves in this crypt. The oldest royal grave is of the founder of this cathedral Emperor Conrad II of 1039 CE, as well as his wife Empress Gisela (1043 CE). The oldest Bishop grave is of Bishop Reginbald II of Dillingen (also 1039 CE), who is one of the architects of the Cathedral. One of the most unusual things in the crypt is the sculpture of King Rudolf von Habsburg (1291 CE). The emperor is depicted here very realistically with his stressed expression, wrinkles etc. From early 11th C to late 13th C this Dom zu Speyer crypt was the preferred burial site of all royals of Salian, Habsburg and Nassauer dynasties & bishops of the region making it the most important burial place in Germany.OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SPEYER Very close the Speyer Cathedral are Dom Zu Speyer Treasury and sculpture of St.Jakubus. Some of the top things to do in Speyer with kids is Sealife Speyer as well as visiting Technik Museum Speyer. Very close to the Speyer HBF are Adenauerpark and St.Bernard's Church. 2 of the important museums in Speyer are the Historical Museum of the Palatinate Speyer and Museum SchPIRA (Jewish museum).One day in Speyer: Dom zu Speyer, its treasury, Technik Museum or Sealife SpeyerTwo days in Speyer: Day 1 as above. Day 2 - Rest of the places mentioned!HOW TO REACH SPEYER CATHEDRAL On Google Maps: Dom zu Speyer, Dom Office, Speyer HBFSpeyer is served by the major railway station Speyer HBF which is located 1.4km (20 mins walk) away from the Cathedral.Mannheim HBF to Speyer: S Bahn direct trains are available. Journey time:30 minsFrankfurt to Speyer Cathedral: ICE/RE train to Mannheim & S Bahn from Mannheim to Speyer. Do keep in mind that ICE trains have dynamic pricing and early pre-booking is good to get cheap tickets (super sparpreis). RE trains do not have dynamic pricing. Total journey time from Frankfurt to Speyer is 1:30h with ICE and 2h with RE.How to reach Speyer Cathedral from Speyer HBF: Local buses No: 564 & No:565 leave from the railway station every 10 mins to Speyer Cathedral. Beware, this bus doesn't show on Google Maps. SPEYER HOTELSAs I mentioned earlier, though Speyer is called a city, it isn't big or touristy. It is more of a pilgrimage site. There are a few hotels here incl. Ibis Styles Speyer. The nearest larger city is Mannheim which has many hotels including Best Western Plus Mannheim, Hilton Garden Inn Mannheim, Radisson Blu Mannheim etc. We visited Speyer as one of the day-trips from Frankfurt. Read my review of Hilton Frankfurt City Centre.SPEYER CATHEDRAL TICKETSSpeyer Cathedral entry ticket: FreeSpeyer Cathedral Audio Guide: €8.50Speyer Cathedral Crypt & Emperors Tombs: €3.80Speyer Cathedral Emperor's Hall & Tower: €6 Combined ticket of all 3 above: €12It is not possible to purchase them online. The Dom office is located very close  to the Cathedral.DOM ZU SPEYER OPENING HOURSCathedral timings: Mon-Sat: 9:00AM to 7:00PM; Sun: 11:30AM to 5:30PMEmperor's Hall & Tower: Open only from April to OctoberP.S: I was invited by Germany Tourism & Speyer Tourism for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.  { "@context": "", "@type": ["TouristAttraction","LandmarksOrHistoricalBuildings"], "name": "Dom zu Speyer", "alternateName":"Speyer Cathedral", "availableLanguage":["English","German"], "address": { "@type": "PostalAddress", "addressLocality":"Speyer", "addressRegion":"Rhineland-Palatinate", "addressCountry": "Germany" }, "touristType": { "@type": "Audience", "audienceType" : ["Heritage Tourism","Historical Sites","Pilgrimage","Churches","UNESCO Sites"], "geographicArea": [{ "@type": "AdministrativeArea", "name": "Germany" }] }, "image": "", "description": "Germany's 2nd UNESCO World Heritage Site: Dom zu Speyer / Speyer Cathedral for its Romanesque architecture & frescoes. 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