Established by the Celts who called it Borbetomagus, Worms today remains embattled with the cities Trier and Cologne over title of "Oldest City in Germany". Worms is the only German member in the organization Most Ancient European Towns Network.
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.
Worms is one of the major sites where the events of the ancient German 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 time period.
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. Many fanciful variant names for Worms exist only upon the title pages of books printed when Worms was an early centre of printing: for instance William Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament was printed at Worms in 1526.
|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)|
Roman inscriptions and 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 by sea and then up the Rhine. At Borbetomagus, Gunther king of the Burgundians, set himself up as puppet-emperor, the unfortunate Jovinus, during the disorders of 411–13. The city became the chief city of the first kingdom of the Burgundians, who left few remains; however, a belt clasp from Worms-Abenheim is a museum treasure. They were overwhelmed in 437 by Hun mercenaries called in by the Roman general Aëtius to put an end to Burgundian raids, in an epic disaster that provided the source for the Nibelungenlied.
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.
In 1689 during the Nine Years' War, Worms was sacked by troops of King Louis XIV of France. The city was then occupied by troops of the French First Republic in 1792 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.
Worms was heavily bombed on the night of February 21-22, 1945 by the Royal Air Force during the last few months of World War II. A post-war survey estimated that 39 per cent of the town's developed area was destroyed. After the war, Worms became part of the new state of Rhineland-Palatinate; the borough Rosengarten, on the east bank of the Rhine, was lost to Hesse.
The city is known as a former center for Judaism. The Jewish community was established in the late tenth century, the first synagogue was erected in 1034. The Jewish Cemetery in Worms (illustration, right) dating from the 11th century is believed to be the oldest in Europe. The Rashi Shul, a synagogue dating from 1175 and carefully reconstructed after its desecration on Kristallnacht is the oldest in Germany. Prominent rabbis of Worms include Elazar Rokeach and Yair Bacharach. At the Rabbinical Synod held at Worms in the eleventh century, rabbis for the first time explicitly prohibited polygamy. Much of the Jewish Quarter was destroyed in the events known as Kristallnacht in 1938. Worms today has a very small Jewish community. and a recognizable Jewish community in Worms 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.