Speyer (formerly known as Spires in English) is a city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities. The first known names were Noviomagus and Civitas Nemetum, after the Teutonic tribe, Nemetes, settled in the area. Around the year 500 the name Spira first appeared in written documents. Spire, Spira, and Espira are still names used for Speyer in the French, Italian, and Spanish languages. Speyer is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral, a number of churches and the Altportal (old gate). In the cathedral, beneath the high altar, are the tombs of eight Holy Roman emperors and German kings.
The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen, in Latin: Domus sanctae Mariae Spirae (German: Dom zu Unserer lieben Frau in Speyer) in Speyer, Germany, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer and is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Bamberg. The cathedral, which is dedicated to St. Mary, patron saint of Speyer ("Patrona Spirensis") and St. Stephen is generally known as Kaiserdom zu Speyer (Imperial Cathedral of Speyer). Pope Pius XI raised Speyer Cathedral to the rank of a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church in 1925.
Begun in 1030 under Conrad II, the imposing triple-aisled vaulted basilica of red sandstone is the "culmination of a design which was extremely influential in the subsequent development of Romanesque architecture during the 11th and 12th centuries". As the burial site for Salian, Staufer and Habsburg emperors and kings the cathedral is regarded as a symbol of imperial power. With the Abbey of Cluny in ruins, it remains the largest Romanesque church. It is considered to be "a turning point in European architecture", one of the most important architectural monuments of its time and one of the finest Romanesque monuments. Speyer Cathedral, a basilica with four towers and two domes, was founded by Conrad II in 1030 and remodelled at the end of the 11th century. It is one of the most important Romanesque monuments from the time of the Holy Roman Empire. The cathedral was the burial place of the German emperors for almost 300 years.
In 1981, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites as "a major monument of Romanesque art in the German Empire". Sabine of Ludwigshafen sent this nice painting of the Cathedral to me.