The third stop on our Easter trip was Speyer and I can tell you that really was something special. I almost had to reanimate my human dad, he was so overwhelmed.
The whole story began after our visit to Worms. In the evening we drove from Worms to Speyer, because we had booked a very nice holiday flat there for the next days. When we arrived there in the evening I thought we could rest for a while, we had been walking through Worms all day. My human dad obviously did not think that at all. „Come on, Grizzly, we will take a little walk around town this evening, towards the cathedral,“ he said. Not with me! Even though I am a very dangerous bear, my legs get tired at some point. So my answer was a growling „No!“. „What about you?“ he asked hypocritically. „A strong bear like you and tired? Then I have to cancel eating ice cream together – very sad.“ What, ice cream? Well, I was much more awake again. However, I did not want to give up completely. So after a little discussion we agreed that I would come with him in my travel bag and that he would carry me. So bear and man were satisfied.
Meanwhile it had already become dim. So we walked through a small side street in the direction of the cathedral. The walk was quite nice, but also nothing special. Until the moment we stepped out of the small street onto the forecourt to the cathedral. Wow, the picture that came to us so suddenly was overwhelming! There it was, the famous cathedral of Speyer – big, powerful, awe-inspiring and incredibly present. Not like the churches in Mainz and Worms, built in the middle of the city. No, behind the large, paved forecourt it stands completely free and alone. What an impression! How must it have been a thousand years ago? Even in the cities in the 11th century people lived mostly in crooked, two to three-storey wooden or half-timbered houses. Farmers in the countryside had only their tiny, poor cottages, which consisted of two rooms. Such a monumental building must have had an effect on the people of this time like an embodiment of heavenly will turned to stone.
The Construction of the cathedral began under Emperor Conrad II around 1025 and he had outstanding ambitions. It should become nothing less than the largest church in the Western World. With this claim, it just takes a little while to complete. Neither Conrad II nor his son Henry III experienced the completion of the work. Only under his grandson Henry IV the building was consecrated in 1061. But he now had even bigger plans. Almost 20 years after its completion, he had half of the cathedral demolished in order to have it rebuilt even more powerfully. The building became larger and taller and also received the largest groined vault in the entire empire. Yes and so the Cathedral of Speyer is the largest Romanesque building in the world. Soemperor Konrad finally got his will.
After my human dad had seen enough of the outside of the cathedral for the time being, we finally went back into our quarter and into the well-deserved bear bed.
After an extensive breakfast the next morning we went on a city tour through Speyer. It is a really beautiful city with lovingly designed houses. But what I liked best about our walk was that the main street belonged completely to the pedestrians. That made it very pleasant.
Again my photographer was dealing with a church. First we visited the Memorial Church of Protestation. At the Reichstag in Speyer in 1529, six princes and representatives of fourteen imperial cities protested against the imposition of the Reichsacht on Martin Luther and the outlawing of his works. This act of resistance against the Catholic majority in the imperium gave the name to today’s Protestiants. The church was built at the end of the 19th century in memory of this event. Particularly noteworthy is that the neo-Gothic style building really closely resembles the original Gothic architecture. Look at the vaulted ceilings. The individual bricks can be seen everywhere, just as they were hundreds of years ago. I liked the big, colored windows the best. To look at these was like a little excursion into Lutherian times. Like Emperor Conrad II with his cathedral also the Protestants wanted a very special building. Since there was not enough money to build it the size of the cathedral, it had to get a higher tower. Is it possible to recognize the „right“ religion on the size of the building?
At the end of our city explorations we finally went to the cathedral. Already the vestibule, with the statues of kings and emperors is very impressive. If you look vertically upwards, you can catch a glimpse of the paintings in the Kaisersaal through a circular hole, right in the middle of the vault. The opening is called a bell hole and serves, as the name suggests, for lifting the bells.
My human dad was, like the day before, completely in his element. He told me stories about each of the rulers. My head was already buzzing due to all of the annual figures and events. At the bronze door he also discovered something else that puzzles him. In the middle is a representation of Moses holding up the prayer boards. The mysterious thing is, Moses has horns. Yeah, look closely, something is growing out of his head. Maybe you have an idea what the artist was doing.
At some point we finally entered the cathedral through the main portal. Again I was prepared for countless explanations by my human dad. But nothing happened! As soon as he was inside, he stood by the side of the entrance portal and looked around. He was very quiet and did not move at all. All right, I will just let him watch a bit, I thought. But after a few minutes he still had not moved, I talked to him after all. Do you think I have received an answer? He stood there and just looked around. As a second try, I pinched him in the arm. That did not Change anything either. I thought my Mr. Photographer had some kind of a cramp and that he could not move any more. So I used my ultimate tool, a loud, deep and powerful bear buzz. Now he was showing a reaction. „Do not make so much noise, Grizzly!“ he said and went a few steps Forward. I was really relieved that he was obviously all right.
Afterwards we visited the cathedral in detail and took many, many photos. It took him a while to change lenses back and forth. Again and again I had to be the caretaker for his photo equipment, for example, when he was completely enraptured again „I need one more wide-angle shot of…“.
Of course we also descended into the crypt. Down there are the tombs of the Salian emperors and kings and their families. This starts with Conrad II, who had the cathedral built, via Henry III – V to Rudolph I, the first emperor of the House of Habsburg. A comparable extensive, medieval burial ground of rulers exists only once more in all of Europe which is in Westminster Abbey.
Of course, my human dad also climbed up the tower and admired the view over the city. During all the enthusiasm of the Middle Ages, there was a special exhibition on Richard I, King of England, in the museum of the history of the Pfalz. This was also very interesting, but unfortunately it was not allowed to take pictures.
Our sightseeing tour through Speyer had lasted the whole day. I dropped into my soft bear bed afterwards. But my Mr. Photographer even went out again in the evening to photograph the cathedral during the blue hour.
The second day in Speyer we spent in the museum of technology. So I could rest my tired legs a bit more. There were a lot of technical things to see. We were most interested in the airplanes as well as the space exhibition and the Buran was of course the highlight.
After two days in Speyer I was really tired, but not my human dad. Before we went on to our next destination after another night, he actually sneaked back to the cathedral very early in the morning. Have I already told you that he is a bit crazy for historical things?
Your very ferocious Grizzly