This past Sunday, we decided to spend the day in Worms (pronounced Vorms), Germany. It was really interesting and educational and quite fun. Here's our take on Worms.
Worms is a small city which has an incredibly rich and varied history. It is a great place to teach children about Jewish history, Martin Luther's Reformation, visit a gorgeous Romanesque cathedral, and discuss dragon-slayers. It was the seat of the short-lived Burgundian kingdom which created the German dragon-slaying epic the "Nibelungenlied." It also has a beautiful city wall, and is a wine-making city.
How to get there?
Worms is only an hour drive from Frankfurt. There are plenty of small parking lots scattered around the city. We found a spot easily! There is also a centrally located train station.
Things to do...
We started our stay in Worms in the Judengasse, the beautifully reconstructed Jewish quarter. It was destroyed multiple times over the past thousand years and sheds light on the long history of Jewish people in Worms and Europe. We have many friends and relatives who are Jewish, and this made the visit even more poignant to us.
Synagogue and Jewish Museum
(Synagogenplatz, Judengasse) Along the Judengasse is the Synagogue, which dates back to 1034. This Synagogue also has a women's section, which is interesting to visit and discuss with children, and a fascinating ritual bath down a very old set of brick steps.
(Raschi-Haus, Hintere Judengasse 6) The Jewish Museum is just down a pathway from the Synagogue. This was fascinating, we really enjoyed it. The museum starts with a 10 minute long video (they played it in English for us) about Jewish traditions and the Jewish history of Worms, including the horrors of Jewish persecution. However, this movie was very family friendly. The museum contains artifacts and items related to Jewish traditions and celebrations, which are fascinating and beautiful. It is most certainly worth a visit, and allows children and adults to really ponder the experiences of the Jewish individuals in Europe over the last thousand years. We discussed, and signed our names in the guest book.
(www.wormser-dom.de) The Dom in Worms was built in the late 11th and 12th centuries, and is late-Romanesque. Our children thought it looked more like a castle than a cathedral on the outside, however, it is still very impressive. If you visit, be sure to pop inside. It is absolutely gorgeous. We were all completely in awe of the baroque altar. The inside is breathtaking, and the children enjoyed trying to count all the golden angels flitting around. It also has a creepy crypt with stone sarcophagi containing bodies that are over 1,000 years old.
Just outside of the medieval city wall near Willy-Brandt-Ring is Europe's oldest Jewish cemetery, with about 2,500 gravestones, some of which are over 1,000 years old and are notable historical individuals. It has a beautiful path and is a peaceful and somber place to visit while walking around Worms.
Luther Memorial (Lutherdenkmal)
Before visiting Worms, our 7, 5, and 3-year-olds had never learned about Martin Luther and Reformation. We visited this memorial and explained the quick and kid-friendly version of Martin Luther's teachings (for an example, click here). We also discussed that Worms was the place where many important figures, including the Emperor and other German sovereigns, tried to get Martin Luther to recant his teachings - and that he refused. The kids respected that.
Dragons and Dragon-Slaying
There are dragon sculptures scattered throughout Worms, as Worms is the locale of the German dragon-slaying poetic epic, Nibelungen. There is a museum dedicated to this epic, The Nibelungen Museum and Gate Tower, but we did not make it there. Worms has many seasonal festivals - we will go back for one of them and visit the museum at that time. Although we missed the museum, we did enjoy finding the dragon sculptures around Worms. They are magical and whimsical.
Oh yeah, and there was a carnival there
Our experience in Germany thus far has had a lot of carnivals and kinder-festivals. It's so awesome when you go somewhere with three kids and just happen upon some bouncy-houses and carnival rides, and that seems to happen to us a lot in Germany!
Where to have lunch?
We wandered around and found a fabulous Doner restaurant - City Donor (Kammerstrasse 55) with excellent pizza. It was clean, and the staff was so kind and friendly. We recommend this spot for lunch!!
We had a really interesting, informative and educational day in Worms. I think we all left with new insights and points of reference with respect to Jewish history and tradition, and Reformation. It was also really fun. We think Worms is worth a day-trip.