Speyer Cathedral

Speyer is a bit odd. It's a tiny little city, less than 50,000 people live there and not a lot happens so it's surprising to find this huge, magnificent cathedral completly dominating the entire place. But in a place that literally means "Spires" I suppose you have to expect a bit of church architecture...



It's huge. Just look at all those tiny little people at the bottom. And it's a beautiful golden sandstone, with details highlighted by gold tiles, so when it catches the evening light it just glows.

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It's a completely otherworldly structure to have existing in the 21st century and I can't get past the idea of how it must have just blown the minds of folk in 1061 when it was first consecreted. The cellar crypt is the final resting place of 8 German kings and I totally get why they wanted to be part of the foundations. It really is the size of a football stadium, and I had someone try to complain within earshot on one visit that it was a bit plain, but it's not. They lacked imagination, and that's not just my C of E roots predisposing me towards minimalism in churches, this is a magestic Cathedral that imposes itself absolutely on the region and dominates the entire town.  Speyer was a place that needed a decent cathedral, it set the scene, and helped to make the town a centre of religious controversy in the Middle Ages. 

Medieval Europe was a Christian place, which means it was a Roman Catholic place and unless you've been living on the moon fort he past millenia then you know with great power, comes great responsibility and the Roman Catholic church hasn't always lived up to Spiderman's example. A lot of the general unhappiness with how the world was run by the Roman Catholic church led to some spiritual revolutions. (I can feel the bodies of a million religious studies students turning in their graves at that summary, but as I understand it you get the gist) You had the Roman Catholic church telling everyone how to live their lives or face an eternity in damnation, and rather convienetly the best way to live your life involved giving the church plenty of money. Now there were plenty of people who didn't like this arrangement, but one man in particular kicked up a fuss: Martin Luther.

Marty boy was so against the idea that you could buy a get out of hellfire free pass to commit a sin he wrote out 95 reasons why it went against biblical teachings and literally nailed it to the doors of the church in Wittenburg. When that happened shit hit the fan, to use the vernicular. Martin was excommunicated, but it was too late- his ideas had spread and the public wanted to know why it was that money, and not prayer or repentance, was required to have sins forgiven. It was a cans of worms that couldn't be contained,  and before too long people took to the streets in protest. They protested in Speyer, and they became known as Protestants.



But back to the Cathedral....

It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1981 because it's such a damn fine example of Romanesque architecture. My favourite thing that it has are the doors, and I know nothing about them. I can't tell you who the artist was, when they were put in place, all I know is I love them.

They depict biblical scenes in handy instagram shaped panels and are looked over by Jesus with some sheep. 





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