Speyer

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In the center of the former Jewish Quarter is a mikveh from the time around 1120. The awe-inspiring Monumental mikveh is the oldest existing ritual bath in Europa. The mikveh and its facilities were one main place and space for the Jewish community in Speyer until its dissolution in the first deacdes of the 16th century.

Whoever walks down the mikveh, dives into the history of SHpira, down a long stairwell, through a Roman portal, a vestibule, surrounded by, among others, a dressing room with stone benches, another vestibule and finally, another few steps down, to the dipping pool.

On the premises around the mikveh are the secured remains of the 1104 erected Synagogue and the women’s prayer room, often also referred to as women’s synagogue which is dated from them mid-13th century. Here, the community in Speyer had taken the women’s synagogue in Worms as inspiration. This kind of architecture was exceptional at that time.

The structural remains allow conclusions about various changes, among others as a result of the pogrom in 1349 and the reconstruction that followed. After the Jewish Community vanished in the 16th century, the synagogue was conversed for other purposes through the city officials. Fires, disintegration, collapse, and demolition furthered the destruction. The Shoah put yet another end to the small community which had formed at the end of the 18thcentury. In the mid 1990’s a new community took shape; in 2011 a converted church could be inaugurated as a synagogue. The mikveh and the synagogue's remains are the core from SHpira when applying for World Heritage Status.

There have been excavations since the 1960’s; ever since then the Jewish heritage has been continuously saved and preserved. In 2010 the SchPIRA Museum opened at the entrance to the “Judenhof“. There, relics and excavation results from the prime era of Jewish medieval history are displayed, as well as gravestones from the 12th to the 15th centuries. By way of the gravestones, visitors come closer to past individuals from the community, and in this way can get an impression of the individuals from this Jewish Community. Following expulsion and pogroms, these gravestones were first stolen from the destroyed and abandoned cemetery, and then installed again, in bridges and stairs. A few of these were discovered during construction work in the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite their beauty - these remains in the museum will be inserted into the UNESCO-application only within the context of the monuments.