Brabant in Speyer, Germany
Brabant in Speyer, Germany

Compact, picturesque and beautifully well-preserved, stunning Speyer always makes for a rewarding stop while cruising along the beautiful River Rhine. Easily explored on foot, the city is perfect for a few hours of relaxing sightseeing in the sunshine. Having survived the Second World War largely unscathed and unspoilt – something which can't be said about many settlements strategically situated on the banks of Germany's waterways – Speyer is a 'living museum' of magnificent monuments and landmarks exhibiting several centuries of incredible history.

The main attractions include the soaring neo-gothic Memorial Church – the tallest structure in the entire Rhineland-Palatinate – which was built between 1893 and 1904 to commemorate the city's imperial protests in the 16th century; the Old City Gate and the 'normal foot', remnants of Speyer's fortifications from the Middle Ages; and reminders of the city's remarkable Jewish heritage, such as the ruins of the medieval synagogue and the 12th century Jewish ritual bath. The late Baroque architecture of the stately City Hall is worth a look too.

Off all the city's impressive sights, the UNESCO-listed cathedral is without doubt the crowning glory. This mighty architectural wonder has loomed large over Speyer for nearly 1000 years, having been founded by Konrad II in the 1020s, extended by Henry IV in the 1080s and extensively rebuilt in the 18th century after the Palatine War. Today it stands proud as the largest preserved Romanesque church in Europe.