Worms, Germany

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Worms
Nibelungen Bridge over the Rhine at Worms
Nibelungen Bridge over the Rhine at Worms
Coat of arms of Worms
Coat of arms
Worms is located in Germany
Worms
Worms
Coordinates: 49°37′55″N 08°21′55″E / 49.63194°N 8.36528°E / 49.63194; 8.36528Coordinates: 49°37′55″N 08°21′55″E / 49.63194°N 8.36528°E / 49.63194; 8.36528
Country Germany
State Rhineland-Palatinate
District Urban district
Government
 • Lord Mayor Michael Kissel (SPD)
Area
 • Total 108.73 km2 (41.98 sq mi)
Population (2012-12-31)[1]
 • Total 79,727
 • Density 730/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 67501–67551
Dialling codes 06241,
06242, 06246, 06247
Vehicle registration WO
Website www.worms.de
Reconstructed Cathedral of Worms
Town hall of Worms

Worms [vɔʁms] is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on the Rhine River about 60 kilometres (40 mi) south-southwest of Frankfurt-am-Main. At the end of 2004, it had 85,829 inhabitants.

Established by the Celts, who called it Borbetomagus, Worms today remains embattled with the cities Trier and Cologne over the title of "Oldest City in Germany." Worms is the only German member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.[2][3]

Worms is one of the major sites where the early-medieval events reflected in the Nibelungenlied took place. A multimedia Nibelungenmuseum was opened in 2001, and a yearly festival right in front of the Dom, the Cathedral of Worms, attempts to recapture the atmosphere of the pre-Christian period.

Worms also played prominently into the Protestant Reformation in the early sixteenth century, the site of Martin Luther's stand before the 1521 Diet of Worms, and also the birthplace of the first Bibles of the Reformation, German and English.

Today, the city is an industrial centre and is famed for the original "Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstück" epotoponym for the Liebfraumilch wine. Other industries include chemicals and metal goods.

Etymology[edit]

Worms' name is of Celtic origin: Borbetomagus meant "settlement in a watery area". This was eventually transformed into the Latin name Vormatia that had been in use since the 6th century, which was preserved in the Medieval Hebrew form Vermayza (ורמיזא) and contemporary Polish form Wormacja. Many fanciful variant names for Worms exist only upon the title pages of books printed when Worms was an early centre of printing.

Geography[edit]

Geographic location[edit]

Worms is located on the west bank of the Rhine River in between the cities of Ludwigshafen and Mainz. On the northern edge of town the Pfrimm flows into the Rhine, and on the southern edge of the city the Eisbach, or "Ice Stream" in English, flows into the Rhine.

Boroughs of Worms[edit]

Worms has 13 boroughs (or "Quarters") that surround the city center. They are as follows:

Name Population Distance from Worms city center
Abenheim 2.744     Northwest of City Center (10 km)
Heppenheim 2.073     Southwest of City Center (9 km)
Herrnsheim 6.368     North of City Center (5 km)
Hochheim 3.823     Northwest of City Center
Horchheim 4.770     Southwest of City Center (4.5 km)
Ibersheim 692     North of City Center (13 km)
Leiselheim 1.983     West of City Center (4 km)
Neuhausen 10.633     North of City Center
Pfeddersheim 7.414     West of City Center (7 km)
Pfiffligheim 3.668     West of City Center
Rheindürkheim 3.021     North of City Center (8 km)
Weinsheim 2.800     Southwest of City Center (4 km)
Wiesoppenheim 1.796     South West of City Center (5.5 km)

Climate[edit]

The climate in the Rhine River Valley is very temperate in the winter time and quite enjoyable in the summertime. Rainfall is below average for the surrounding areas. Snow accumulation in the winter is very low and often melts within a short period of time.

History[edit]

Imperial City of Worms
Reichsstadt Worms
Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire
Duchy of Franconia
11th century–1789
Capital Not specified
Government Republic
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  City founded before 14 BCE
 -  Gained Reichsfreiheit between 1074 and 1184 11th century
 -  Concordat of Worms 1122
 -  Reichstag concluded
    Imperial Reform
 
1495
 -  Diet of Worms:
    Martin Luther banned
 
1521
 -  Sacked by French during
    War of Grand Alliance
 
1689
 -  Occupied by France 1789–1816 1789
 -  Awarded to Hesse 1816
Jewish Cemetery "Heiliger Sand".
Heylshof Garden.
Vineyards.
Map of Worms in 1630. The Jewish Ghetto is marked in yellow.

Celts and Romans[edit]

The city has existed since before Roman times, when it was captured and fortified by the Romans under Drusus in 14 BCE. From that time, a small troop of infantry and cavalry were garrisoned in Augusta Vangionum; this gave the settlement its Romanized but originally Celtic name Borbetomagus. The garrison developed into a small town with the regularized Roman street plan, a forum, and temples for the main gods Jupiter, Juno, Minerva (upon whose temple was built the cathedral) and Mars.

St Martin's Church.

Roman inscriptions, altars, and votive offerings can be seen in the archaeological museum, along with one of Europe's largest collections of Roman glass. Local potters worked in the south quarter of the town. Fragments of amphoras show that the olive oil they contained had come from Hispania Baetica, doubtless transported by ship by the sea and then up the Rhine. At Borbetomagus, the Roman usurper Jovinus established himself as a puppet-emperor in the West during the disorders of 411–13, with the help of King Gunther of the Burgundians, who had settled in the area between the Rhine River and Moselle River some years before. This city became the capital of the of the Burgundian kingdom. Very little of this early Burgundian kingdom survives, because in 436 AD, the Burgundian kingdom was all but destroyed by a combined army of Romans (led by Aëtius) and Huns (led by Attila); a belt clasp found at Worms-Abenheim is a museum treasure. The pretext for this attack was that the Burgundians had begun raids against Roman settlements in the area. At the Battle of Worms, fought in 436 AD, the combined Romano-Hunnic army destroyed the Burgundian army; King Gundicar (also known as Gunther) was killed during the fight. It is said that 20,000 were killed. The Romans then escorted the survivors southwards to the Roman district of Sapaudia (modern day Savoy). The story of this war would be the inspiration for the Nibelungenlied.

Middle Ages[edit]

Worms was a Roman Catholic bishopric since at least 614 with an earlier mention in 346. In the Frankish Empire, the city was the location of an important palatinate of Charlemagne (Karl der Grosse), who built one of his many administrative palaces here. The bishops administered the city and its territory. The most famous of the early medieval bishops was Burchard of Worms.

Worms Cathedral (Wormser Dom), dedicated to St Peter, is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Germany. Alongside the nearby Romanesque cathedrals of Speyer and Mainz, it is one of the so-called Kaiserdome (Imperial Cathedrals). Some parts in early Romanesque style from the 10th century still exist, while most parts are from the 11th and 12th century, with some later additions in Gothic style (see the external links below for pictures).

Four other Romanesque churches as well as the Romanesque old city fortification still exist, making the city Germany's second in Romanesque architecture only to Cologne.

Golden Age[edit]

Worms prospered in the High Middle Ages. Having received far-reaching privileges from King Henry IV (later Emperor Henry III) as early as 1074, the city later became a Reichsstadt, being independent of a local territory and responsible only to the Emperor himself. As a result, Worms was the site of several important events in the history of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1122 the Concordat of Worms was signed; in 1495, a Reichstag concluded here made an attempt at reforming the disintegrating Imperial Circle Estates of the Reichsreform (Imperial Reform). Most important, among more than a hundred Imperial Diets held at Worms, the Reichstag of 1521 (commonly known as the Diet of Worms) ended with the Edict of Worms in which Martin Luther was declared a heretic after refusing to recant his religious beliefs. Worms was also the birthplace of the first Bibles of the Reformation, both Martin Luther's German Bible, and William Tyndale's first complete English New Testament by 1526.[4]

Modern era[edit]

In 1689 during the Nine Years' War, Worms (like the nearby towns and cities of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Oppenheim, Speyer and Bingen) was sacked by troops of King Louis XIV of France, though the French only held the city for a few weeks. In 1743 the Treaty of Worms was signed, ending the Second Silesian war between Prussia and Austria. In 1792 the city was occupied by troops of the French First Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars. The Bishopric of Worms was secularized in 1801, with the city being annexed into the First French Empire. In 1815 Worms passed to the Grand Duchy of Hesse in accordance with the Congress of Vienna and subsequently administered within Rhenish Hesse.

After the Battle of the Bulge, Allied Armies advanced into the Rhineland in preparation for a planned massive assault across the Rhine into the heart of the Reich. Worms was a German strong point in the southern Rhineland on the West bank of the Rhine and the German forces there resisted the Allied advance tenaciously. Worms was thus heavily bombed by the Royal Air Force during the last few months of World War II — in two attacks, on Feb. 21 and March 18, 1945. A post-war survey estimated that 39 per cent of the town's developed area was destroyed. The RAF attack on Feb. 21 was aimed at the main train station, on the edge of the inner city, and at chemical plants southwest of the inner city. The attack, however, also destroyed large areas of the city center. The attack was carried out by 334 bombers that in a few minutes rained 1,100 tons of bombs on the inner city. The Worms Cathedral was among the buildings set afire in the resulting conflagration. The Americans did not enter the city until the Rhine crossings began after the seizure of the Remagen Bridge.

In the attacks, 239 inhabitants were killed and 35,000 (60 percent of the population of 58,000) were rendered homeless. A total of 6,490 buildings were severely damaged or destroyed. After the war, the inner city was rebuilt, mostly in modern style. Postwar, Worms became part of the new state of Rhineland-Palatinate; the borough Rosengarten, on the east bank of the Rhine, was lost to Hesse.

Judaism in Worms[edit]

The city, known in medieval Hebrew by the name Varmayza or Vermaysa (ורמיזא, ורמישא), was a center of medieval Ashkenazic Judaism. The Jewish community was established there in the late 10th century, and Worms's first synagogue was erected in 1034. In 1096, eight hundred Jews were murdered by crusaders and the local mob. The Jewish Cemetery in Worms, dating from the 11th century, is believed to be the oldest surviving in situ cemetery in Europe. The Rashi Synagogue, which dates from 1175 and was carefully reconstructed after its desecration on Kristallnacht, is the oldest in Germany. Prominent students, rabbis, and scholars of Worms include Shlomo Yitzhaki (Rashi) who studied with R. Yizhak Halevi sgan haleviya, Elazar Rokeach, Maharil, and Yair Bacharach. At the rabbinical synod held at Worms at the turn of the 11th century, Rabbi Gershom ben Judah (Rabbeinu Gershom) explicitly prohibited polygamy for the first time.

For hundreds of years until Kristallnacht in 1938, the Jewish Quarter was the centre of Jewish life. Worms today has only a very small Jewish population, and a recognizable Jewish community as such no longer exists. However, after renovations in the 1970s and 1980s, many of the buildings of the Quarter can be seen in a close-to-original state, preserved as an outdoor museum.

In 2010 the Worms synagogue was firebombed. Eight corners of the building were set ablaze, and a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a window. There were no injuries. However Kurt Beck, Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate, condemned the attack and vowed to mobilize all necessary resources to find the perpetrators, saying, "We will not tolerate such an attack on a synagogue".[5]

Main sights[edit]

International relations[edit]

Worms' twin towns

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Worms is twinned with:

Other relations[edit]

Notable citizens[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden am 31.12.2012". Statistisches Bundesamt (in German). 2013. 
  2. ^ MAETN (1999). "diktyo". classic-web.archive.org. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Worms city council (2011). "worms.de > Kultur > älteste deutsche Stadt". worms.de. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Teems, David. "Tyndale: The man who gave god an english voice." Nashville: Thomas Nelson (2012). Chapter 4.
  5. ^ "Worms synagogue fire-bombed". Haaretz. 17 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]