Located on the Rhine River in southwest Germany, the trading town of Speyer thrived between the 10th and 11th centuries. Conrad II, the Holy Roman Emperor at the time, decided to construct a large cathedral with 4 towers in the town.
Measuring 133m in length, it is the largest example of Romanesque architecture in the world. Germany. The word Romanesque means Roman-style, and was in direct contrast to the Gothic style which was favored in other cities.
The cathedral was built by the Emperor to show his power, which is why it is also known as the Kaiser Dome and a large statue of Conrad II was placed in the entrance hall.
Construction was started in 1030 and took 80 years to complete. He made numerous seemingly impossible demands, which eventually promoted new developments in architecture. Semi-circular columns hold up the stone roof. It became a characteristic feature in the design and structure of German Romanesque buildings.
No stained glass was used for the chapel windows, instead natural light was allowed to come through. In those days stone buildings had wooden roofs, but the cathedral had a stone roof from the very beginning. It was the first building constructed entirely from stone in Europe.
The crypt is said to be the largest crypt in Germany. Conrad II brought the coffins of 4 emperors and 3 empresses here in order to increase the importance of the cathedral.
Speyer cathedral has had a turbulent history of repeated destruction and reconstruction. In 1689 the town was invaded by the troops of French king, Louis 14th, and the entire town was put to the torch, and the cathedral was severely damaged. The West Wing collapsed completely and was removed. The cathedral was abandoned for 10 years, and it was only 80 years later that the West Wing was rebuilt.
However, rather than rebuilding the two towers in the original Romanesque style they were designed in the new Baroque style. This was eventually corrected in the 1800s and the West Wing was again torn down and rebuilt to match the East Wing.
Speyer Cathedral survived repeated damage and destruction, the symbol of an era which has lasted throughout the ages.