Speyer’s imperial cathedral

As the summer holidays approach, The Local is touring Germany's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today we turn our attention to Speyer's imperial cathedral.

Speyer's imperial cathedral
Photo: DPA

Speyer’s cathedral, which is laid out in the form of a Latin cross, is one of Germany’s largest and most important Romanesque buildings. The Salian Emperor Konrad II ordered its construction around 1030 with the aim of creating the largest church in the western world.

The cathedral was consecrated in 1061 during the reign of his grandson Henry IV. Its huge triple-naved vaulted basilica is the central element of a design layout that went on to exercise great influence on Romanesque architecture in the 11th and 12th centuries.

As a burial site for Salian, Hohenstaufen and Hapsburg rulers and their wives, the cathedral is considered a symbol of imperial rule in the Middle Ages. Of particular importance is the crypt – still preserved in its original glory, it is the largest Romanesque columned hall in Europe.

The cathedral bowl, which has a capacity of 1,560 litres, is located in the square outside the main cathedral door. It once marked the boundary between between episcopal and municipal territories. It has been a UNESCO-World Heritage site since 1981.

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