Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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.
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 before Roman times, when it was captured and fortified by the Romans under Drusus in 14 BCE. Henceforward a small troop of infantry and cavalry were garrisoned in Augusta Vangionum or to give the settlement its Romanized but originally Celtic name Borbetomagus. (Many fanciful variant names for Worms exist only upon the title pages of books printed when Worms was an early center of printing: William Tyndale's translation of the Bible was printed at Worms, 1525.) The place developed into a small town with the usual regularized street plan, a forum, and temples for the main gods Jupiter, Juno and Minerva (upon whose temple, as is usual, was built the cathedral) and for Mars. Roman inscriptions and altars and votive offerings can be seen in the archeological museum, and 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 river. At Borbetomagus, Gunther king of the Burgundians, set up his puppet-emperor, the unfortunate Jovinus, during the disorders of 411 – 413. The city became the chief city of the first kingdom of the Burgundians, who left so few remains, however, that a belt clasp from Worms-Abenheim is a museum treasure; they were overwhelmed in 437 by Hun mercenaries called in by the Roman general Aėtius to put an end to Burgundian raids, in an epic disaster that provided the germ of the Nibelungenlied.
A Christian bishopric has certainly existed since 614, (but was secularized in 1801 and passed to Hesse-Darmstadt). In the Frankish Empire, the city was the location of an important palatinate of Charlemagne, 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 is maybe best known for its cathedral, 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 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.
Worms prospered especially 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). Maybe 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: Martin Luther was declared an outlaw after refusing to recant his religious beliefs.
The city is known as a former center for Judaism. The cemetery (illustration, right) dating from 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: 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, preserved as in an outdoor museum.
The city has been nearly destroyed twice in its history. In 1689, French troops invaded, almost eradicating the city during the Palatine war of succession; it came under French rule again from 1789 until 1816. In World War II, it was heavily bombed.
- Worms Tramway a Historic Page with old Pics (in German)
- worms.de, the city website (in German)
- nibelungenmuseum.de (in English)
- wormser-dom.de, website of the Worms Cathedral with pictures; click on the "Bilder" link in the left pane
- letsgo.com, a city guide including where to eat and what to see (in English)
- wormser-region.de, another website about Worms (in German)
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