Discover a medieval Jewish hotspot on the Rhine on our Speyer shore excursion! Founded by the Romans, a small picturesque city of Speyer is one of Germany’s oldest cities, boasting some of the finest medieval heritage in Germany, as well as the oldest and among the most important Jewish sites in northern Europe.
As a matter of fact, Speyer, in Hebrew Shpira, was one of the three Kehillot SchUM, together with Mainz and Worms (Magenza and Wermaisa respectively): a federation which represented a Jewish hotspot in Europe and praised as “Rhenish Jerusalem” during the middle Ages.
Between the 11th and the 14th century, Speyer became one of Europe’s most important hubs for Talmudic studies. Jewish life concentrated around the Judengasse, were the Judenhof (Jewish courtyard) was: today, the remains of a men’s and women’s synagogue, along with the Mikveh, are the oldest and among the best-preserved Jewish sites in Germany and northern Europe.
The SchPIRA Museum, at the entrance to the Judenhof hosts relics and excavation results from the early years of Jewish presence in the city. The museum also boasts an interesting Judaica collection and tombstones up to 900 years old.
Whilst our Speyer shore excursion, puts a special emphasis on the Jewish heritage, do not be afraid that you will miss the city highlights.
Speyer is easily explored on foot: Maximilianstrasse is a good place to slow down the pace and enjoy the city. It is the main shopping street of the city, and its palm trees and small street cafés give it a special southern flair.
Along Maximilianstraße you can find the historic town hall and the Alte Münze with its charming market square. On the weekly market on Königsplatz you can find wines from the Palatinate as well as other regional delicacies.
One of Speyer’s landmark is without the shadow of a doubt the Kaiserdom, the world largest remaining Romanesque cathedral, built in 1030, and made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981. A small insider tip is the viewing platform at a height of around 60 metres. It’s not that easy to reach, as the way to it counts 304 steps, but you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the city of Speyer and the surrounding area. If the weather is good, you should be able to see 50 kilometres into the distance.
You can enjoy a breath-taking view also from the Altpörtel: once serving as Speyer’s western city gate, it is the most notable remnant of the city’s medieval fortification. On the second floor, a permanent exhibition covers the history of Speyer, and if you want to deepen your knowledge, we recommend making some time for the Historical Museum of the Palatinate. Here you’ll also learn about the life of the first humans who settled there and about the arrival of the Romans in 12 BC, Martin Luther and the Protestant revolution, the region’s 2,000-year long history of winemaking and a lot more.
We can’t wait to explore with you the history of Speyer, a hotspot of medieval Jewish life, on our Speyer shore excursion!