|• Mayor||Christoph Burkhard|
|• Total||35.21 km2 (13.59 sq mi)|
|Elevation||194 m (636 ft)|
|• Density||500/km2 (1,300/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
Alzey (German pronunciation: [ˈaltsaɪ] ( )) is a Verband-free town – one belonging to no Verbandsgemeinde – in the Alzey-Worms district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is the fourth-largest town in Rhenish Hesse, after Mainz, Worms, and Bingen.
Alzey is one of the Nibelungenstädte – towns associated with the Nibelungenlied – because it is represented in this work by the character Volker von Alzey. Hence, Alzey is also known as Volkerstadt.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Politics
- 4 Culture and sightseeing
- 5 Economy and infrastructure
- 6 Famous people
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Alzey lies in Rhenish Hesse on the western edge of the northern part of the Upper Rhine Plain. It is surrounded by the northern part of the Alzeyer Hügelland (Alzey Hills), which meets the Rheinhessisches Hügelland (Rhenish-Hessian Upland) towards the south and the North Palatine Highland towards the east. The town is found some 30 km southwest of Mainz and some 22 km (as the crow flies, in each case) northwest of Worms. Through Alzey, in places underground, flows the river Selz, a left-bank tributary to the Rhine.
Yearly precipitation in Alzey amounts to 586 mm, which is rather low, falling into the lowest fourth of the precipitation chart for all Germany. At 18% of the German Weather Service’s weather stations, even lower figures are recorded. The driest month is February. The most rainfall comes in June. In that month, precipitation is 1.9 times what it is in February. Precipitation varies moderately. At 41% of the weather stations, lower seasonal swings are recorded.
From the Neolithic to the early first millennium
The earliest traces of settlement in the Alzey area go back as far as the Neolithic. Alzey was founded as a vicus (village) in the Roman province of Germania Superior in the lands surrounding Mogontiacum (Mainz).
On a Nymphenstein (“nymph stone” – a kind of Roman altar stone). Alzey had its first documentary mention in 223 as Vicani Altiaienses (“Villagers of Alzey”). The name Altiaia could well come from as far back as an old, pre-Roman Celtic settlement’s name used about 400 BC, although its exact origins have not been passed down to the present day. Over the ruins of the Roman vicus, which was destroyed about 350, a castrum was built about 390. In 406 and 407, the Burgundians, together with the Vandals, crossed the Rhine and settled in Mainz, Alzey and Worms as Roman confederates. The area was secured for them by treaty. In 436, the Burgundian kingdom was destroyed by the West Roman magister militum Flavius Aëtius with help from Hunnish troops. These events were worked into the Nibelungenlied, and form the origin of the legendary figure Volker von Alzey, the gleeman in the Nibelungenlied. After 450, Alzey passed to the Alamanni and the Franks when they took over the land. After Clovis I’s death in 511, the Frankish Empire fell apart into separate smaller kingdoms, and Alzey became part of Austrasia, whose capital was at Metz. After unification of the Frankish kingdoms in the mid 8th century, Alzey passed in the 843 Treaty of Verdun to the Kingdom of the East Franks, a forerunner of the German Empire. In 897, Alzey was first mentioned as an Imperial fief.
12th century to early 20th century
In 1156, Alzey belonged to the Electorate of the Palatinate, and Konrad von Staufen attained the rank of Count Palatine in the Imperial castle, which had been completed in 1118. In 1277, Alzey attained the rank of town from Rudolf von Habsburg. In 1620, Count Spinola sided with the Catholic Emperor in the Thirty Years' War against the Protestant Electorate of the Palatinate and also conquered Alzey. In 1689, the town and the castle, under the French troops’ scorched-earth policy, were burnt down in the Nine Years' War, when Louis XIV’s armies had to leave areas conquered earlier. In 1798, areas west of the Rhine, among them those that until this time had been parts of the Electorate of the Palatinate, were annexed to France. Alzey belonged until 1814 to the Department of Mont-Tonnerre (or Donnersberg in German). In 1816, Alzey was attached to the Grand Duchy of Hesse. In 1909, the winemaking school (now the Landesanstalt für Rebenzüchtung) was founded. Its first head was Georg Scheu, after whom the grape variety Scheurebe is named.
On Kristallnacht (9 November 1938), the Alzey synagogue was destroyed and the fittings were burnt in front of the building. The ruin was torn down in the 1950s. A rescued Torah scroll can nowadays be found in the museum. On 8 January 1945, in the Second World War, the town narrowly missed being destroyed when 36 Boeing B-17 bombers had been sent to take out a railway bridge in Alzey. Owing to bad weather and a landmark misinterpretation – the crew mistook the top of the old watchtower for the church steeple – the bombers ended up dropping their load on the Wartberg, a nearby hill, giving rise to the legend of the Wartbergturm – the old tower – as Alzey’s saviour.
Since 1947, Alzey has no longer been Hessian, but rather it became the seat of Alzey District in the newly formed state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Since the merger of the old Alzey and Worms Districts in 1969, Alzey has been the seat of the new Alzey-Worms District and the seat of the Verbandsgemeinde of Alzey-Land, although as a Verband-free town, it does not actually belong to the Verbandsgemeinde.
On 22 April 1972, the formerly autonomous centres of Weinheim, Heimersheim and Dautenheim were amalgamated with Alzey. The outlying centre of Schafhausen had already been a Stadtteil (constituent community) of Alzey since the Middle Ages.
On 31 January 2008, the townsfolk’s religious affiliations broke down thus:
- 8,927 Evangelical
- 3,684 Catholic
- 2,996 none or no affiliation established in public law
- 1,322 other affiliations established in public law
- 6,809 other
- 988 no data
- 50 Alzey Free Religious-Humanist Association
- 4 Old Catholic
- 2 Jewish
- 1 Mainz Free Religious-Humanist Association
The council is made up of 32 part-time council members who were elected at the municipal election held on 7 June 2009, and the full-time mayor as chairman. The seats are apportioned thus:
- (1982–1990) Walter Zuber (SPD)
- (1990–2006) Knut Benkert (SPD)
- (2006–present) Christoph Burkhard (independent CDU candidate)
Coat of arms
The town’s arms might be described thus: Per fess sable a demi-lion rampant Or armed, langued and crowned gules, and argent a vielle bendwise of the third.
The lion recalls the town’s former overlord, the Electorate of the Palatinate. The vielle, a kind of fiddle, stands for the noble families by the name of Truchseß, or Truchsess (Volker von Alzey), Winter and Wilch, who were formerly resident in the town.
- Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom since 1963
- Josselin, Morbihan, France since 1973
- Lembeye, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France, with the outlying centre of Weinheim, since 1980
- Rechnitz, Burgenland, Austria since 1981
- Kościan, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland since 1990
- Kamenz, Saxony since 1990
Culture and sightseeing
Awards and prizes
The town of Alzey regularly bestows the following awards and prizes:
- Elisabeth-Langgässer-Literaturpreis (since 1988 every three years)
- Georg-Scheu-Plakette (yearly at the winemakers’ festival)
The town’s links with wine are even shown in the Alser Lied, a town song, which is always sung on the Friday of the opening of the winemakers’ festival. One version sung by former mayor Walter Zuber could be found on the jukebox at the Alzey traditional pub, Zur Gretel for a decade.
- Geschichtsmuseum der Stadt Alzey (Town of Alzey History Museum)
The Old Town
Alzey has a well-kept old town with many timber-frame houses, restaurants, cafés and shops, surrounded by ruins of the mediaeval town wall. The town’s midpoint is the Rossmarkt (“Horse Market”) with the bronze horse by artist Gernot Rumpf. A sculpture of an ondine by Karlheinz Oswald stands at the Fischmarkt (“Fish Market”) in front of the old town hall.
The Wartbergstadion is the town’s biggest sporting facility. It has a type-B competition running track with a large grass playing field, a 400 m loop track, track and field areas (plastic) and stands. Here can also be found the leisure swimming pool Wartbergbad. Nearby there is a riding club with stalls, paddocks and a riding hall, and a tennis club with seven clay courts.
Moreover, Alzey has at its disposal a newly built artificial-turf playing field, which is used mainly by the hockey and football clubs. There is also a multipurpose sporting ground and at schools several more hard courts.
The so-called Weinbergshäuschen Wanderung (“Vineyard Cottage Hike”), or Wingertshaisje Wanderung in the local speech, is a hike through the hilly Rhenish-Hessian countryside between Alzey and the outlying centres of Weinheim and Heimersheim. It is held each September on the first Sunday in that month. Along the network of paths, vineyard cottages are operated between 11:00 and 18:00 by winemaking estates and clubs. On offer at these times are both cold and warm foods and drinks, including the Rhenish-Hessian wine typical of the region.
The Winzerfest is held each year on the third weekend in September and lasts from Friday to the following Tuesday. It is the biggest event of its kind in Alzey. On the wine and sekt terrace are presented selected regional wines. Parallel with this is a yearly market with rides and games of all kinds.
Being the centre of a winegrowing region, the specialities are first and foremost wines and dishes that are made with wine, such as the Backesgrumbeere, a seasoned potato casserole with bacon, wine and sour cream, which is found throughout Rhenish Hesse. The winegrowing engineer Georg Scheu named a variety of grapevine after his workplace, the Perle von Alzey.
Economy and infrastructure
The town’s main branches of industry are winegrowing, the resident specialized clinic, the building firm Wilhelm Faber GmbH & Co. KG, a Schlecker distribution centre, a Plus distribution centre, an administrative seat of the hypermarket chain real,- and Lufthansa daughter companies Lufthansa Technik AERO Alzey and LSG Sky Food. Moreover, Alzey is the region’s service provision centre with a very broad array, for the town’s size, of shopping, which is concentrated mainly in the industrial area.
Alzey is characterized by winegrowing and with 769 ha of vineyards currently worked, 69% with white wine varieties and 31% with red, it ranks sixth in size among winegrowing centres in Rhineland-Palatinate, and after Worms (1 490 ha) and Nierstein (783 ha), it is the third biggest winegrowing centre in Rhenish Hesse.
Alzey is found near the Autobahnkreuz Alzey, an Autobahn interchange at which cross the two Autobahnen A 61 (Venlo, Koblenz, Bingen, Alzey, Ludwigshafen, Hockenheim) and A 63 (Mainz, Alzey, Kaiserslautern).
Alzey station has direct connections to Mainz Central Station by Regional-Express and Regionalbahn services on the Alzey–Mainz railway, and on the Rheinhessenbahn (railway) to Bingen and Worms. The Donnersbergbahn has since 1999 once more connected Alzey with Kirchheimbolanden. On weekends and holidays, trips on the Elsass-Express (“Alsace Express”) to Wissembourg are possible.
- DRK Krankenhaus Alzey (hospital)
- Rheinhessen-Fachklinik Alzey (specialized clinic)
- Seat of Alzey-Worms district council
- Seat of the Verbandsgemeinde of Alzey-Land
- Seat of the branch office of the Bingen-Alzey finance office
- Primary schools:
- St. Marienschule
- Secondary school:
- two special schools (Volkerschule and Schule im Rotental)
- District music school
- Berufsbildende Schule Alzey (vocational school)
- Rheinhessen Fachklinik nursing school
- Georg Scheu
- Willi Bechtolsheimer
- Kurt Neumann
- Walter Zuber
- Karl-Heinz Kipp
Sons and daughters of the town
- Felix Adler (1851–1933), philosopher and son of Rabbi Samuel Adler
- Samuel Adler, a noted rabbi in the United States, had been chief rabbi here
- Volker von Alzey, knight and gleeman in the Nibelungenlied
- August Belmont (b. 8 December 1816 in Alzey; d. 24 November 1890 in New York) was a German-American banker and politician. He was from the well known Jewish family Belmont in Alzey as a son of Simon Isaac, who had taken the name Belmont under Napoleon’s name law.
- Heinrich Claß (b. 29 February 1868 in Alzey; d. 16 April 1953 in Jena) was from 1908 to 1939 chairman of the Alldeutscher Verband, the influential nationalistic club in Imperial Germany. Claß was known for, among other things, works published under the pseudonyms Daniel Frymann and Einhart, in which he propagated his extreme nationalistic and expansionist politics.
- Nikolaus Eseler the Elder, master builder
- Karl-Heinz Kipp, entrepreneur, founder of the Massa-Märkte (now belonging to the Metro Group), ranked 154 on Forbes’s list of wealthiest people (2008) with an estimated fortune of US$6,300,000,000.
- Elisabeth Langgässer, (b. 23 February 1899, d. 25 July 1950 in Rheinzabern), writer
- Gunther Metz, former professional footballer, active in 1 FC Kaiserslautern and Karlsruher SC in the 1990s. Today cotrainer of the Lauterer Amateure.
- Sybille Schloß, née Storck, (b. 15 October 1910 in Munich; d. 13 December 2007 in New York) was a German actress. She grew up in Alzey, where her father Karl Schloß, who had lived in Munich as a poet in the expressionist style, ran a cigarette factory. Among other things, she joined the Kabarett Die Pfeffermühle, and became a heroine in Wolfgang Koeppen’s novel “Eine unglückliche Liebe”. Her parents were deported from Dutch exile to their deaths, but Sybille Schloß managed to emigrate to New York, where she died in 2007.
- Tarkan Tevetoğlu, (b. 1972), today’s best known Turkish pop musician with more than 15 million CDs sold. In Germany he is particularly well known for the title “Şımarık”.
- Manfred Waffender, producer, author, journalist and publisher.
- Carl Wolfsohn, American pianist and teacher, was born here in 1834
- Walter Zuber, politician (SPD), Member of the Landtag, from 21 May 1991 to 25 February 2005 Minister of the Interior and for Sport in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Famous people associated with the town
- Dr. Samuel Adler (b. 3 December 1809 in Worms; d. 9 June 1891 in New York) was from 1842 to 1857 Rabbi of Alzey’s Jewish community. He was a supporter of the liberal movement in German Jewry and advocated, for example, the use of German in Jewish worship and a greater role for women. Dr. Adler went as a rabbi to the Temple Emanu-El in New York and became head of the USA’s leading Jewish Reform community. Services held by Samuel Adler continued to be in his preferred German. His library is as far as has been possible maintained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.
- Ludwig Bamberger (b. 22 July 1823 in Mainz, d. 14 March 1899 in Berlin), was a revolutionary, banker and politician. He belonged to the Democrats, who faced down Prussian troops at the Schlosspark in Kirchheimbolanden in 1848. Sentenced to death in absentia, Bamberger later became a banker (founding member of Deutsche Bank) and one of the leading liberal politicians after the German Empire was founded in 1871. He is described as the “Father” of the German Mark (founding of an independent issuing bank). He was for many years a Member of the Reichstag for the electoral district of Bingen-Alzey (from 1871 to 1893) and married Anna Belmont from Alzey.
- Anton Spiehler was a Catholic chaplain, later bishop’s secretary, spiritual adviser and cathedral capitulary of the Diocese of Speyer, as well as the assistant head of the diocesan seminary and supreme custodian of Speyer Cathedral. He belonged to the so-called Mainzer Kreis (“Mainz Circle”).
Alzey Wine Queens
- Bärbel Janssen, 1992/93 from Alzey
- Kerstin Stelzer 2004/06 from Alzey-Heimersheim
- Katharina Matheis 2007/2008 from Alzey-Weinheim
- current titleholder: Lisa Schuckmann, since September 2008 from Alzey-Schaffhausen
- "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden am 31.12.2012". Statistisches Bundesamt (in German). 2013.
- Alzey - Geschichte der Stadt
- Source specifically mentions the one in Alzey.
- Stand: 31. Januar 2008, Quelle: www.kommwis.de
- Kommunalwahl Rheinland-Pfalz 2009, Stadt- und Gemeinderatswahlen
- Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967.
- Karl-Heinz Kipp im ManagerMagazin
Volker Gallé / Christine Hinkel / Manfred Hinkel / Gisela Kleinknecht / Wulf Kleinknecht: Alzeyer Köpfe. Sutton Verlag, Erfurt 2007, ISBN 978-3-86680-098-4
- Town’s official webpage (German)
- Auswandererliste nach Südbrasilien zu dem Landkreis Alzey-Worms (German) Institut für Geschichtliche Landeskunde an der Universität Mainz.
- This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.