Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Worms, Germany

Worms is a city in Germany, situated in Rhineland-Palatinate. The name is pronounced as vorms with a long "o" (like in English "caught") and a sharp final "s" (like in English "once"). The name is of Celtic origin: Borbetomagus meant "settlement in a watery area". This was probably transformed into the Latin name Wormatia that had been in use since the 6th century.

Today, it is an industrial centre and is famed for its local wine called Liebfraumilch. Other industries include chemicals and metal goods. At the end of 2001, it had 84,426 inhabitants.

Worms claims to be the site where the events of the ancient German Nibelungenlied took place -- but several other cities make this claim as well. Nevertheless, a multimedia Nibelungenmuseum was opened in 2001, and a yearly festival attempts to recapture the atmosphere of the piece.


The city has existed since at least as early as the 4th century. A bishopric has certainly existed since 614, but was dissolved in 1801 in the process of secularization. In the Frankish Empire, the city was the location of an important palatinate of Charlemagne, and it prospered especially in the High Middle Ages.

It is maybe most well known for its cathedral, one of the finest pieces 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 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.

Having receiving 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 took an attempt at reforming the disintegrating Reich. Maybe most importantly, at the end of the Reichstag of 1521 (commonly known as the Diet of Worms), in the Edict of Worms, Martin Luther was declared an outlaw after refusing to recant his religious beliefs.

The city is known as a former center for Judaism. A cemetery dating back to the 11th century is believed to be the oldest in Europe; an ancient synagogue was built around 1034. Although much of the Jewish Quarter was destroyed in the events known as Kristallnacht of 1938 and a recognizeable Jewish community no longer exists, after renovations in the 1970s and 1980s, much of the buildings can be seen in a close to original state.

The city has been nearly destroyed twice in its history. In 1689, French troops invaded, almost eradicating the city; it came under French rule again from 1789 till 1816. In World War II, it was heavily bombed.

External links