More About the Imperial Cathedral in Speyer
I explained the two first stages of the architecture of Speyer Cathedral in this post. The main nave and choir thus belong to the second Romanesque period while the aisles and the crypt show the architecture of the first, the Konradinian stage.
South aisle, facing west
Speyer Cathedral suffered during various wars, especially the Thirty Years War and the Palatine Succesion War (1688-1697). While the eastern part survived with little damage, the Westwerk
was completely destroyed and replaced by a much simpler version in 1770. Later, some idiot in Napoleon's administration wanted to tear the entire building down and replace it with a park; luckily, the bishop of Mainz managed to stop that nonsense. The cathedral escaped the bombs of the World Wars. North aisle, facing west; seen from the quire;
You can see how similar both aisles are
In the 19th century, the cathedral interior was richly decorated with pseudo-historical, so called Nazarenian paintings which were duly ereased during a renovation 1957 (fortunately; there's a picture in the guide book: lots of gold and kitsch). By then, the cathedral was valued for its burials of Mediaeval Emperors. One of the better changes in the 19th century was the re-erection of the two-towered Westwerk
. The architect Heinrich Hübsch used old paintings and tried to come as close to the original as possible - much better than the previous Baroque version.
Another major renovation 1984/85 got rid of more later additons and reestablished as much as possible of the Romanesque building. The latest change (1996) was the banishment of market stalls outside the church, and the reconstruction of the narthex tower of the Westwerk
. The tomb vault of the Imperial burials was opened to the public. Speyer Cathedral, seen from the north facing east
The crypt, one of the largest in a Medieaval church, never suffered destruction and thus represents one of the finest examples of the early Romanesque style. I'll get back to it in another post.