Worms, like Speyer, was favored by the Salian Emperors but the town today is best remembered for the 1521 Diet of Worms. Here, Martin Luther was invited to appear before the Imperial Parliament to explain and revoke his opposition to the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church. He refused and claimed to have uttered the immortal words: “Here I stand for I cannot do otherwise. So help me God! Amen.” The Diet’s decision to outlaw Martin Luther had probably the most devastating consequences of any conference decision up to the 20th century.
Most of medieval Worms was destroyed by the French in 1689 during the wars of the Palatinate succession. As a result, from the time of Martin Luther only the cathedral and a plaque recall the momentous events of 1521. The main reason to visit Worms is to see the cathedral.
Sightseeing in Worms
The Kaiserdom St Peter und St Paul (Imperial Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul), Domplatz 1, is a mainly Romanesque cathedral in magnificent condition following restoration work after World War II. It was originally erected between 1000 and 1025, but most of what you see now dates from the early 12th century. It is considered one of the best examples of Late Rhine Romanesque, despite some Gothic and Baroque additions. The cathedral, together with those in Mainz and Speyer, had a unique position in early German history. Opening hours are daily from 9 am to 5 pm, closing at 6 pmfrom April to October. For centuries after the start of the Reformation, Worms remained a multi-religion area. As a result, it was only in 1868 that the Luther monument was erected in a park laid out after the destruction of the city walls. It is the largest monument in the world to honor the Reformation. At its center stands Martin Luther surrounded by statues of followers and supporters and the names of cities and regions that played a major role in the Reformation.
One of the most famous medieval German poems is the Nibelungenlied. Many people are surprised that this is based at least partly on fact. The Burgundian Kingdom was established early in the fifth century in the Worms’ area. The legend is filled with action heroes and betrayal of the worst kind. A famous scene in the poem has Hagen throwing the treasure of the Nibelungen in the Rhine – a statue of Hagen caught in the act is on the Nibelungen Bridge. A Nibelungen Museum, Fischerpförtchen 12, opened recently in two medieval towers and part of the town wall. It uses multimedia techniques to explain the legend. English audio guides are available.
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