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Martin Luther's Diet and the Nibelungen

Worms Cathedral photo"What is the Diet of Worms?" would not be the correct answer on Jeopardy to bird feeding secrets or bizarre weight loss programs for 20. In April of 1521, Martin Luther was called by the Holy Roman Emperor (basically the German king) Charles V to appear before the assembly of the assorted prince-bishops of the imperial states held at the cathedral in city of Worms (pronounced rather “Varms” than like the crawly creature) on the Rhine River in the German Rhineland-Palatine near Mannheim to answer to the Pope Leo X papal bull denouncing the 95 Theses of protestant reforms Luther had nailed to the church doors in Wittenberg (see Wittenberg Church Doors) four years before in 1517. Luther refused to recant his views and was ordered arrested in the Edict of Worms. Martin Luther escaped and hid for a year in the Castle Wartburg in Eisenach (see Wartburg Castle and the Devil's Inkwell) where he began his own translation of the bible, beginning the reformation of Christianity.

Romanesque arches Worms Dom photoThe Cathedral of St Peter at Worms sometimes called the Kaiser Dom (Emperors Cathedral) is one of the great examples of German style Romanesque architecture churches in the cities of the Rhine, which along with Mainz (see Mainz Cathedral) and the spires of Speyer, represented on the power of the king and church in German life. Constructed of the red sandstone common to most medieval buildings throughout the area, a bit aged with city grime giving it almost an ominous feel with four high towers and two large dome towers and a nave at over 100 yards long. An earlier church built by the Worms Bishop Burchard Baroque gilded design Worms photohad stood on the spot, but the current cathedral was begun in 1125 and consecrated in 1181. The Nikolaus Chapel and the choir’s beautiful vaulted ceiling were constructed in Gothic style in the 14th Century, the elaborate Baptismal font is from the 15th Century and the ornate gold gilt Baroque high altar with St Peter and St Paul along with angels designed by Balthasar Neumann was added in the 17th Century. The original stained glass windows of the church were destroyed by allied bombing of the industrial Rhine cites in 1943. In 1965 new windows were designed by an artist from Mainz, Alois Plum, and took 30 years to complete. On the north side of the cathedral is the Kaiserportal, Gothic Reliefs Worms cathedral photothe emperor’s door, where according to the German epic story of the Nibelungenlied (from whence the Wagner operas sprung), Kriemhilde and Brunnhilde argued about who could be first through the door – a dispute which led to the killing of Siegfried. Most of the stories of the Niebelungenlied – the epic poem based on ancient German myths of the founding of the world, take place around Worms which considers itself the Nibelungen City with the Rhine gold treasure buried somewhere under it. The poem was written by an anonymous author who obviously lived in or near Worms.

Martin Luther Stature Worms photoThe Prince Bishops’ rule of Worms ended in 1800. On the church grounds you can find grottos where the Wormser Princes and Holy Roman Emperor (Romischer Kaiser) succession is illustrated. The Cathedral at Worms (Wormser Dom) is still a Catholic parish church, but the protestant reformation’s ultimate triumph in German religious life is marked by the massive monument and statue of Martin Luther about four blocks away. The great reformer is surrounded by the German princes who converted to Protestantism encompassing most of the German speaking world and beyond. If visiting the Cathedral at Worms, also take a short walk St Andrew’s Church, also a fine Romanesque example, a former abbey college now a city museum with artifacts of Worms' Roman days. For other Luther sites Worms is just one stop of the Luther Tour route of 16 cities associated with Martin Luther and the German reformation. © Bargain Travel Europe

Where to stay? For an emperor theme at a protestant budget you can stay at the Romischer Kaiser Wine Inn or for a more Nibelungen connection near the Cathedral and the Nibelungen Museum, the Hotel Kriemhilde.

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