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also spelled Speier, English Spires

city, Rhineland-Palatinate Land (state), southwestern Germany. Speyer is a port on the left bank of the Rhine River at the mouth of the Speyer River, south of Ludwigshafen. An ancient Celtic settlement, it became in about 100 BC a Roman military and trading town, Noviomagus, and later, Nemetes after the local inhabitants (Nemetae); it was destroyed about AD 450 during the barbarian invasions. Rebuilt and created a bishopric in the 7th century, it was a free imperial city from 1294 to 1797 and was the seat of the Imperial Chamber of Justice (the Holy Roman Empire's high court) from 1527 to 1689.

Fifty imperial diets (assemblies) were held in Speyer, and at one such diet in 1529, Martin Luther's followers protested against the majority's decision to rescind the concessions made to the Lutherans in 1526. The word Protestant originated from this incident.

Destroyed by French troops (1689) during the War of the Grand Alliance, Speyer was incorporated into the French Republic in 1797, passed to Bavaria in 1815, and was the capital of the Bavarian (Rhenish) Palatinate from 1816 to 1945.

Historic remains in the city include the Altpörtal (“old gate?), with a 13th-century gate tower, the subterranean Jews' Bath (1104), and the Baroque Trinity Church (1701–17). The city's Romanesque cathedral, founded in 1030 by the Holy Roman emperor Conrad II, contains a unique crypt and the tombs of eight German emperors and kings and three empresses. Gutted in 1689 and rebuilt several times, it was consecrated in 1961 after its most recent restoration.

The medieval city is surrounded by modern industrial and residential areas. The city's bridge across the Rhine, destroyed in 1945, has been rebuilt (1956). Speyer has electrotechnical industries, an oil refinery, metal and wood processing, and textile, chemical, and shoe plants. There are also stoneworks, glassworks, and brickworks, breweries, sparkling-wine (sekt) cellars, and aircraft factories. Pop. (1989 est.) 45,089.

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