This past Wednesday, we visited the city of Speyer, located just next to the Rhine River. Speyer, having been founded by the romans, offers magnificent architecture throughout the whole city. We toured the general city and main street through town and even went to the Jewish worship section of the city. Before WWII, Speyer served as a significant landmark for jewish communities and now rests as a historic landmark to view the Jewish courtyard containing what is left of the synagogue and the mikveh. We then walked up the 150 stairs of the clocktower in Speyer that was left neglected in the bombings during WWII. Finally, we walked down to the Speyer Cathedral to tour the breathtaking architecture inside and out.
The most memorable part of Speyer was, surprisingly, the Jakobspilger. This statue is a figurative public sculpture in the middle of the sidewalk on the main street. I found this sculpture so interesting because it is bold in detail and stature but so many people seemed to walk right around it.
After questioning, the guide informed me that this was a figurative sculpture representing the pilgrims that walked the Path of St. James which was the route the pilgrims took to cut through the town. The sculpture is facing the outskirts of town, showing the path and direction he walked, and now many will walk to leave the main center of town. Throughout the day I did not see anybody stop for a picture. Granted, the statue did not have any information about the meaning behind it. Because of this, this sculpture was a special memory I have of Speyer that many may have passed by.
This tour was important to me because this was officially the first guided tour we had through a city other than Heidelberg. It meant a lot to me to veer from what I already know in Heidelberg and become educated on it’s surrounding areas. With aspiration to travel to many countries in Europe over the next four months, I find it just as important for me to take in what Germany has to offer as well.
Coming from a Roman Catholic family, these tours through the Roman architecture and religious centers allow me to connect with the religion I have grown up in on a much greater scale. Only spending a few weeks here, I have already felt the religious connection that is imbedded in the history of these cities.
This study abroad program is proving to be a worth-while trip to say the least. I am opening my eyes to a new world view, culture, language, and more. The best part about these tour and guided experiences is what I take away from the time I spent there. In Speyer, I decided for the rest of the trip that I would buy a postcard for each place I went. Postcard, I found, are cheap memories usually less than one euro. This way, I get to send home these memories for my family see while also documenting my time, for me to reflect on for years to come.