Once serving as Speyer’s western city gate, the so-called Altpörtel is the most notable remnant of the city’s medieval fortification. Even when compared to other town gates in Germany, the Old Gate stands out with its soaring height of 55 metres (180 feet) and its well-preserved structure. A closer look will reveal a couple of interesting details: each of the tower’s eastern and western sides show two clocks and the northern side features an iron bar that was once called the ‘Calibration Shoe of Speyer’, which was used as a measuring unit until the early 19th century.
Altpörtel, Maximilianstraße 55, Speyer, Germany, +49 6232 142392
In the Middle Ages, Speyer was home to one of Germany’s most important Jewish communities. The remains of a men’s and women’s synagogue, along with the Mikveh (a ritual bath), are the oldest and among the most important Jewish sites in Germany and northern Europe. The ruins date back to the early 1100s, but the underground section of the Mikveh has survived the past centuries and is virtually unchanged. Visitors can climb down the vaulted stairwell into the bathrooms that lie 10 metres (33 feet) underground.
Jewish courtyard, Kleine Pfaffengasse 22, Speyer, Germany, +49 6232 291971
Worms’ cathedral is perched on the city’s highest hill, safe from the floodings that used to trouble the area. Just like its counterpart in Speyer, the Worms Imperial Cathedral was also honoured with the Basilica minor title in 1925, but is smaller and about 100 years younger. The main construction phase of the Romanesque church stretched from 1130 through to 1181 and not much has changed since. In the summer, the cathedral serves as the backdrop for the annual Nibelung Festival when a programme of concerts, lectures and debates celebrate the renowned saga.
Cathedral of St Peter, Domplatz, Worms, Germany, +49 6241 6115
The region around Worms and Speyer is not only known for its award-winning wines, but also for its regional specialities like Pfälzer Saumagen or Handkäse mit Musik (a handmade cheese made of sour milk). The cute and cosy Rabennest winery in Speyer’s city centre is an excellent place to dive into the culinary world of the Palatinate and sample some of the fantastic wines the region has to offer.
Weinstube Rabennest, Korngasse 5, Speyer, Germany, +49 6232 623857