Towering physically and historically above all the other ancient buildings of the city is the majestic Dom St. Peter, Lutherring 9 (tel. 06241/6151; bus: 2). This basilica is a fine example of High Romanesque style. The east choir, with a flat facade and semicircular interior, is the oldest section, dating from 1132. It was designed as the sanctuary, where the clergy performed the rites of divine service. The chancel glows with the gold and marble of the pillared enclosure of the baroque high altar by the famous 18th-century architect Balthasar Neumann. This opulent work was so large that there was no place for a proper transept. In Gothic times the choir stalls stood in the apse, but later they were built into the transept. The interior has a quiet elegance, with little decoration other than the rosette window and several memorial slabs and monuments. Well worth seeing is the highly decorated 14th-century side chapel of St. Nicholas, with its Gothic baptismal font and new stained-glass windows. This was the setting of history's famous Diet of Worms, an assembly of august figures of the Catholic hierarchy, an imperial court that banished Martin Luther into exile when he refused to renounce his so-called "heretical doctrine." (Luther adamantly maintained that religious truth exists in Scripture, not in papal power or edicts.) The cathedral is open for visitors April to October daily 9am to 6pm, and November to March daily 9am to 5pm.
North of the Altstadt is the restored Jüdisches Viertel (Jewish Quarter; bus: 2). Before World War II, Worms had one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany. The still-functioning synagogue, Hintere Judengasse 6 (tel. 06241/8534700), which dated from the 11th century, was destroyed in 1938 and has since been rebuilt. The synagogue is open November to March daily 10am to noon and 2 to 4pm, and April to October 10am to 12:30pm and 1:30 to 5pm. Inside, you'll find the Raschi-Haus Museum (same phone; www.worms.de), containing memorabilia from the original synagogue and references to the Holocaust. The museum is open November to March Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 12:30pm and 1:30 to 4:30pm, and April to October Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 12:30pm and 1:30 to 5pm. Admission is 1.50€ adults, .80€ children 13 and under. A staff member inside will point you in the direction of the Judenfriedhof (Jewish cemetery), off the Lutherring, one of the oldest and largest in Europe, with hundreds of tombstones, some more than 900 years old.
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