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  • Day301

    Day 302: Speyer Cathedral

    December 13, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 4 °C

    Although Heidelberg is actually quite a touristed city, we're mainly using it as a base for day-trips to nearby World Heritage sites. Today we set out on our first one, to Speyer Cathedral. This is a large Romanesque cathedral, one of the largest Romanesque buildings still remaining in the world. It was about 45 minutes away to the south-west, so off we went!

    Caught the train around 9:15, arrived at around 10am and then walked the 10 minutes to the cathedral. Did some filming of exteriors, then since we had Schnitzel we needed to alternate our visits. Shandos went in first, while I filmed a bit more, rehearsed my thoughts, and had a poke around the Christmas market too.

    Eventually it was my turn to visit inside. It was nice but quite austere. What's fascinating about it though is that it was built as the centre of a power struggle between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope. Known as the Investiture Controversy of the 11th century, the Emperor had decided that he should be appointing his own bishops and other religious figures. The pope disagreed, because as God's sole representative on earth he alone should be deciding that stuff. Religious warfare ensued, as it typically did, and though the pope largely emerged the victor, Speyer Cathedral was one of the key sticking points - the emperor had it built specifically to showcase his power and wealth. The town had only around 500 residents, and definitely no need for a cathedral that size.

    Also some further controversies, in the 17th century when the interior was covered in baroque decorations, and then again in the 20th century when said decorations were largely removed to a museum, leaving the interior in its current, spartan state. Also interesting to see the crypt, where 8 German kings were buried. Their bones were long gone, after the place was ransacked by French soldiers in the 18th century, but their tombs had been preserved.

    Back outside, where we finished up and grabbed a quick bite at the Christmas markets before heading home. We'd noticed that morning there was a bus direct from Heidelberg station to Speyer Cathedral, and since the next train wasn't for 45 minutes and the bus was in 10 minutes, we'd do the bus instead. Our tickets were valid for both.

    Turned out to be a very bad decision - it was a local bus and took about an hour and forty minutes to cover about 10 kilometres. Once we accounted for getting to the station, waiting for the train and riding the train, the bus was probably only 15 minutes slower, but sitting there for that long was a bit depressing. The only upside was that we went through the village of Hockenheim, home of the German Formula 1 grand prix. I'd never known where it was (though admittedly I'd never cared to look), but that was sort of cool to see.

    Back home where we relaxed for a couple of hours then headed into the old part of Heidelberg on the tram. We're staying away from the tourist areas, so after a 10 minute tram ride and a little walk, we arrived. Lots of shops open and Christmas lights everywhere, though we couldn't see the famous castle. I didn't particularly feel like Christmas market food again, so we opted for a small hidden place called Schnitzelbank. Small little room essentially, in the basement of a side-street building, but packed inside and we had to share a table with others. I had a turkey schnitzel with Dijon mustard sauce, noodles on the side and a big salad to accompany. Way too much food to finish, but the schnitzel was incredible - close to the tastiest one I've ever had!

    No room for dessert, sadly, so absolutely stuffed we made our way home. More busy days ahead!
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