Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History
[ source: Wikipedia]
As the largest extant Romanesque church and one of the most important architectural monuments of the Middle Ages, the Speyer (Speyer vacation rentals | Speyer travel guide) Cathedral is of special note to visitors interested in architectural history. The cathedral was begun in 1030 by Conrad II, the Holy Roman Emperor. He had commissioned its construction six years earlier, intending it to be the largest church in Western Christendom and his final burial place. The monumental cathedral was built of red sandstone from the Palatine Forest, but Conrad did not live to see it completed. The Speyer Cathedral was dedicated in 1061, and it eventually became the resting place of numerous emperors and kings, making it a symbol of imperial power.
Although the original nave had a flat roof, the aisles were vaulted, making the Speyer Cathedral the second largest vaulted structure north of the Alps, after the Aachen (Aachen vacation rentals | Aachen travel guide) Cathedral. The first renovation of the cathedral took place between 1090 and 1106, under the supervision of Conrad's grandson. It was at this point that the cathedral became one of the largest buildings of its time. This large cathedral, constructed in a small German village, ultimately represented a challenge to Italian papal authority by the German emperors.
As with all historic buildings, destruction and change dominated the intervening centuries. The church was significantly damaged in a fire in set in 1689 during the Nine Years' War. Reconstruction of the collapsed nave occurred during the 18th century. The Speyer Cathedral survived the Napoleonic Wars, but it was subjected to extensive changes and additions during the 1800s. In the 1950s, a restoration of the church back to its Romanesque appearance was implemented. Interestingly enough, it is the crypt under the church that has over the centuries retained its original appearance. In 1981, the significance of the Speyer Cathedral was officially recognized when UNESCO listed it on its World Heritage List.
Today, the Speyer Cathedral is visited every year by over one million visitors. A variety of lectures and tours are offered. Visitors wanting to be part of one of these should send written notification of their interest 14 days before the day of their visit. Public lectures on cathedral history are offered every Saturday at 10:00 am. Group, individual, and children's tours are also available.
[ source: wikipedia.org ]
About this Article
This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.
Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).
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