Skip to main content
  1. Leisure
  2. Travel
  3. International Travel

Visiting Europe's oldest Jewish cemetery, Heiliger Sand in Worms

See also

While traveling in Germany, I am always on the lookout for historical evidence of Jewish life here. Unfortunately not much exists, having been wiped out by Germany's Third Reich. That’s why I was especially pleased to find the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe just up the road from us in the walled city of Worms (pronounced voorms).

More Photos

Just outside the city walls, a few blocks from the famous Cathedral of St. Peter, sits the triangular patch of greenery containing the cemetery. Hundreds of sunken tombstones, all in varying states of decay, cover the peaceful site. The markers are mostly simple stone tablets inscribed in Hebrew, some with more ornamental borders. The oldest tombstone that is still legible dates from 1076.

Interestingly, all of the grave markers face the same direction which gives the eerie impression they are all looking at you as you make your way down the dirt path that rings the site. In Jewish cemeteries it is customary for the grave markers to face Jerusalem.

The most recent burial here was in 1940, however as early as 1911 the community had started using a new site since this one was already too full. Only established families could still use the Heiliger Sand after that time.

Worms had a large Jewish population from the 10th century with the first synagogue built in 1034. Located at the northeastern bend inside the original city walls, the Jewish quarter has been rebuilt and preserved and includes the synagogue and mikvah or ritual bath. More information in English is available at www.worms.de.

Comments

Advertisement

Leisure

  • Cleansing foods
    Healthy cleansing foods that will nourish you inside and out
    Camera
    7 Photos
  • Mustang
    Get the scoop: Ford released detailed specs on the 2015 Mustang
    Camera
    7 Photos
  • Banyan Tree
    See why The Banyan Tree in Lahaina is a top Maui attraction
    Camera
    10 Photos
  • Parmesan crusted burger
    The burger makes a statement with its overflow of melted swiss cheese over a hot beef patty
    Camera
    6 Photos
  • Oaks Spa
    Just keep moving is theme at Oaks at Ojai, California’s primo budget spa
    Camera
    6 Photos
  • Smoothie
    To cool your summer days off try a plum-cherry-lychee smoothie
    Camera
    20 Photos