The city’s trademark Imperial Cathedral


“No, dragon-slayer Siegfried is not buried in Worms Cathedral. Although some people have their suspicions,” grins Tobias Schäfer, dean of the cathedral. “But there is a link to the Nibelung saga. Merovingian Queen Brunhilda built the first church on this site.” Tobias Schäfer’s guided tour of his beloved cathedral is an exciting trip back in time: “The first German pope, Gregor V, was brought up here in Worms. Pope Leo IX was elected here. Emperor Frederick II was married here. This is where the Salians have their family vault. I could go on.” But the dean admits that taking responsibility for the preservation of the cultural heritage of the cathedral gave him some sleepless nights to begin with.

The interior of St Peter’s Cathedral, Worms

The magnificent interior of St Peter’s Cathedral, Worms

Martin Luther probably also had a few sleepless nights when he was summoned to the Diet of Worms to recant his writings in 1521. Shortly after this came the break from the Catholic Church, and the cathedral lost importance when the people of the city became Protestants. But it is still standing today as one of the most impressive examples of Romanesque church architecture.

Heylshof Gardens with a view of the Imperial Cathedral, Worms

Heylshof Gardens with a view of the Imperial Cathedral, Worms

The fact that it was built in the early 11th century in place of the Salierburg castle is testament to the determination of Bishop Burchard I. The construction work brought an enormous economic boom to the city. The cathedral was consecrated in 1018 and torn down again a good 100 years later. Bishop Burchard II built a new one, which was stronger, bolder and sleeker.

According to the people of Worms, theirs is the most beautiful cathedral there is. And Tobias Schäfer is very much in agreement. The dean rhapsodises as he explains, “the view of the whole cathedral from the west choir is really wonderful. The baroque high altar in the east choir at the back complements the Romanesque architecture remarkably well. By contrast, if you consider the east choir alone, it looks like a festive ballroom.” He explains the history of the diocese based on the subjects of the stylish story-telling windows that have adorned St George’s Chapel since 1992. St Nicholas Chapel is one of his favourite places. “The stained-glass windows create a different light at every time of day and the atmosphere is positively mystical. Even those who do not believe can feel a presence of something greater than us in the cathedral. And they are amazed at the wonders that people can achieve in order to worship their God.”

View of the lovely St Peter’s Cathedral in Worms, Rhine-Hesse

View of the lovely St Peter’s Cathedral in Worms, Rhine-Hesse

Tobias Schäfer is an ecumenical man. He says that, from today’s perspective, the Catholic Church has a lot to thank Luther for, which is why the cathedral was holding its own exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of the momentous Diet of Worms. The year 2021 was also the first time that the Nibelung Festival was not dedicated to the Nibelungs but instead featured a play about Luther, one man who changed the world. 

Both the Nibelungs and the cathedral are part of Worms. The two combine beautifully to make a perfect cultural break to enjoy the grandeur of the church and the uplifting theatre, not to mention the other attractions the city has to offer.

More recommended excursions for culture vultures 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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