The pleasant market-town of SPEYER, 25km southwest of Heidelberg, is a fairly quiet place these days, but things were very different in the Middle Ages when it regularly hosted imperial parliaments and was a key player in the Holy Roman Empire – as the presence of a giant Romanesque Dom suggests. From the cathedral the pedestrianized Maximilianstrasse cuts through the small Baroque Altstadt and is lined by most of its cafés and shops, while on its other sides the Dom is surrounded by gardens which separate it from the Rhine and also the Technik Museum, a first-class transport museum.

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