24 hours in Worms: Showplace for historic events

City of Luther, City of the Nibelungs, Little Jerusalem on the Rhine, Cathedral City, … Worms is known by many names, but they all have one thing in common: the legendary character of the town, whether you believe the myths or not. Welcome to Worms!

Founded in around the time Jesus was born, the city on the Rhine is now one of the oldest in Germany. A few things have happened since then. In the Middle Ages, Worms was a centre of power for the German Empire. Legend has it that it was also a key location in the ‘Song of the Nibelungs’. The Diet of Worms, where Martin Luther made his big appearance, took place in 1521.  The only constant is St Peter’s Cathedral, which was built between 1130 and 1181 and still dominates the city’s skyline. It has also been the venue for a number of major events.

Legendary Worms

If you travel here by car, your voyage of discovery begins on the Nibelungenbrücke bridge over the Rhine. The impressive gate tower was built in the Nibelung style in the late 19th century. According to the legend, Hagen jettisoned the Nibelung treasure into the Rhine here. The bronze statue of Hagen on the Rhine promenade below the bridge is a reminder of this mythical period of the city’s history. The Rhine promenade and Kriemhild’s rose garden are perfect for a leisurely summer walk or even just for lingering a while and soaking up the Mediterranean atmosphere during the warmer months.

A 15-minute walk takes you towards the city centre and the Nibelungen Museum housed in two city wall towers. The museum sets out the history of Worms, which has long been closely linked to the legend of the Nibelungs and Siegfried the dragon slayer. But in the absence of either Siegfried’s sword or Brunhild’s belt, her would-be weapon against Siegfried, the museum relies on state-of-the-art technology to bring the legend to life. So the Nibelungen Museum is not a museum in the traditional sense, it is more a walk-though audiobook. With your trusty multimedia guide in hand, you can head off through the two towers, the myths lab and the fortifications.

Staircase in the Nibelungen Museum with extraordinary art installation, Worms

Extraordinary art installation at the Nibelungen Museum, Worms

Historical Worms

Just a few metres from the Nibelungen Museum is St Peter’s Cathedral. Many important events have happened in or near the cathedral. Gregor V, the first German pope, was brought up here in Worms. Leo IX was proposed by Emperor Henry III and legitimated by the people. He was elected pope in the cathedral in 1048.  In 1235, it played host to the imperial wedding of Frederick II, which must have been a sight for the people of Worms to behold. The cathedral still also holds an important annual event – the Nibelung Festival. The tale of the Nibelungs is told anew on the open-air stage in front of the theatre every summer. The Romanesque basilica is one of the three imperial cathedrals on the Rhine, alongside those in Mainz and Speyer. But this is not the only thing linking the three cities.

Enjoying wine in the Heylshofpark with a view of the Worms Cathedral, Worms

Enjoying wine in the Heylshofpark with a view of the Worms Cathedral, Worms

Gravestones under a large tree at the ‘Heiliger Sand’ Jewish Cemetery, Worms

Gravestones at the ‘Heiliger Sand’ Jewish Cemetery, Worms

In 2021, the ShUM sites in the three cities were named the first Jewish UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as the buildings in the former Jewish quarter, including the synagogue and the mikveh, the ShUM cities UNESCO World Heritage Site also encompasses the ‘Heiliger Sand’ Jewish Cemetery.

There are over 2,000 graves, including monuments to leading rabbis, which attract many Jewish visitors from all over the world. The oldest gravestones date back to 1058/1059, making the ‘Heilige Sand’ the oldest Jewish cemetery preserved in situ in Europe. Abel and Anton on the ‘ShUM Sites on the Rhine’ smartphone app tell you all about the history of the cemetery.

And there is an important part of the city’s history that has not yet been mentioned: the story of Martin Luther, the great Reformer. He is said to have refused to renounce his writings, which were critical of the Church, at the Diet of Worms in 1521 with the words, “Here I stand, I can nought else.” The church was divided for good, and the Reformation took its familiar course. The Luther Memorial diagonally opposite the cathedral is a reminder of Luther’s works in the city and is still the largest of its kind in the world, alongside the Reformation Memorial in Geneva.

At a glance: 24 hours in Worms

  • Nibelungenbrücke bridge
  • Rhine Promenade
  • Nibelungen Museum
  • St Peter’s Cathedral
  • Heylshof Gardens
  • Luther Monument
  • ‘Heliger Sand’ Jewish Cemetery
  • Former Jewish quarter
At the Luther Memorial, Worms

Short break at the Luther Memorial, Worms

More excursion tips for culture lovers in Worms:

More information about holidays in Worms

Find out everything about events, sights and more destinations in Worms at Tourist Information Worms.


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