6/20/2017

Speyer Cathedral, Helmut Kohl: Speyer, Germany

Speyer is a 2027-year-old city, along the banks of the Rhine river in southwest Germany, in the Rhineland-Palatinate state. The town is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral, which is named Imperial Cathedral of Speyer.  It is dedicated to St. Mary, patron saint of Speyer, and to St. Stephen.  In 1925, the cathedral was raised to a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 198l.
This is day nine of our European river cruise. Our Uniworld river ship arrived in Speyer on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 8:30a.m. Where we are met by Herman the German, our tour guide, for our half-day walking tour.  Herman shares historic information about his city. Telling us the city of Speyer was liberated by the Americans during WWII, and then became part of the French zone from 1944 to 1989.  Herman is old enough to recall seeing Charles De Gaulle lead the French troops through the city at the end of the World War II.


Speyer is an important regional retail center, and with tourism being the leading industry. The city contains electro technical industries, oil refineries, and manufactures metal, machinery, ships, aircraft, textiles, and chemicals. There are significant historic remains: The Old Gate, subterranean Jewish Baths, and the Baroque Trinity Church.
Jewish Courtyard and Museum
Most important today, we see the preparations for the funeral of Helmut Kohl, the former German Chancellor who died June 16, 2017.  Inside  the Speyer Cathedral, we see a memorial portrait and a condolence book with expressions of sympathy from the community, tourist, and leaders from around the world.

Chancellor Kohl’s funeral procession will begin in Strasbourg, France and be carried downstream on the Rhine river to the city of Speyer.  His funeral service will take place inside the cathedral and the burial service at the cemetery will be private.  Throughout the town, we see memorial black ribbons on flag poles in remembrance. He is credited for bringing East and West Germany together, helping to the create the Euro, and for some controversy during his political term, as well.  You can read more about his burial and service here.
Angela Merkel said,  "Without Helmut Kohl, the lives of millions of people who lived behind the Wall until 1990 would have been completely different - of course, my own as well. Dear Chancellor Kohl, you played a decisive role in the fact that I am standing here," Merkel said, her voice shaking slightly.
"Thank you for the chances you gave me. Thank you for the chances you gave to many others. Thank you for the chances that we as Germans and Europeans have because of you."


Read more about our visit to the Jewish Mikvah, the Old City Gate, and Maximilianstreet in our private travel journal.  Please continue to travel with us, as we sail on to Strasbourg, France.



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