Midway between Speyer and Mainz – both 50km away – WORMS is one of Germany's oldest cities, famous as the fifth-century home of the Burgundian kingdom, as extensively celebrated in the Nibelungenlied, about which Worm has an excellent multimedia museum. But the city has flourished during several periods since as well, first under Charlemagne, who made it his winter residence, and particularly during the Salian dynasty (1024–1125) when the city's grand Romanesque Dom was built. Worms also occasionally served as a seat for the imperial parliament, its most famous session here being when it sat in judgement on Martin Luther in 1521.
For many centuries Worms was also home to a powerful Jewish community, which began to grow to prodigious size in the eleventh century and became – together with Mainz and Speyer – one of Germany's foremost Jewish communities. It survived the fifteenth century when many other cities expelled their Jews, only to be all but eradicated by the Third Reich. Nevertheless important reminders of this community remain, above all in its Jewish graveyard and rebuilt synagogue.
All this is fairly quickly explored leaving you to wander the pedestrian streets of Worms' Altstadt, which has been attractively rebuilt following almost total destruction during World War II. The old town always has a reasonably lively bustle about it, but is best in late summer during the mid-August Nibelungen Festspiele, a two-week festival of theatre based on the epic, and the Backfischfest, a wine festival that follows, during which fried fish is the accompaniment of choice.