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Worms, Germany

Worms is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on the Rhine River. 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 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.

Etymology

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.

Geography

Geographic location

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 is where the tributary Pfrimm empties into the Rhine and on the southern edge of the city the tributary known as Eisbach or "Ice Stream" in English, flows into the Rhine.

Boroughs of Worms

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

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

Celts and Romans

The city has existed since before Roman times, when it was captured and fortified by the Romans under Drusus in 14 BC. 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, as is usual, was built the cathedral) and Mars.

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.

Middle Ages

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

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 importantly, 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 at which Martin Luther was declared an outlaw after refusing to recant his religious beliefs.

Modern era

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.

Judaism in Worms

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.

Town twinning

Worms is twinned with:

Notable citizens

References

External links

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