Cruise Port: Speyer, Germany
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Speyer (Spire in French) lies 25 km (16 miles) south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim and 21 km (13 miles) southwest of Heidelberg, located on the left bank of the river Rhine. It is one of Germany's oldest cities, founded by the Romans. Under the high altar, the tombs of eight Holy Roman Emperors and German kings are in the cathedral.
A place you cannot miss (if you love wine) is the Wein Museum (Wine Museum). See how the Romans produced vino and the world's oldest bottle of grape wine (ca. A.D. 300).
Wine is not the only thing on exhibit, but objects found in the tombs of former emperors under the Dom are on display in the treasury. The most celebrated exhibition is the Bronze Age Golden Hat of Schifferstadt. The Hat is a golden, cone-shaped object used in religious celebrations in ancient times.
These unique objects on display offer a view into the cultural history of wine consumption over the last 2000 years. A giant wooden wine press from 1727 has stood in the museum for one hundred years. When the new museum was built in 1910, they made sure to create a space for the wine press, where it stands today.
Wine drinking and culture have been a part of the Palatinate region for over 2000 years. Although the Romans began cultivating the wine initially, which led to wine-growing commencing in the Rhine and Moselle regions, it has maintained a significant part of the local culture that you see today. Today, nearly every area has a unique wine festival.
Jewish refugees from Mainz, Germany, were encouraged to Speyer to form one of the most important Jewish communities in the Middle Ages in northern Europe. This community was active until the beginning of the 16th century. It is unknown what time and circumstances led to the community's destruction.
The Jewish Courtyard in Speyer consisted of synagogues for men and women and a mikvah used for ritual washing. Today you can descend the stairs to the first documented (1126) mikvah in the courtyard, which was the central area of the Jewish quarter. The underground components sit today nearly unmodified as they did centuries ago.
There's so much more to see in Speyer, while taking a walk down history lane. There really is no way to get up close and personal than to spend some time in Speyer, whether on a river cruise, or a land trip.
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