Ulrike Smith Explains the History of “City of Worms”

The city's actual name is Vormatia

By Ulrike Smith
This tower spans the Nibelungen Bridge across the Rhein (Rhine) River. It is the entrance to the City of Worms, and is in the neighborhood where I lived. Caption and photo: Ulrike Smith

This city was founded in 14 BC and is known as Vormatia, which is Latin and means settlement in a wet area due to the city being located on the banks of the Rhein. The letter v in German is pronounced as the w in English, and the name eventually evolved to Worms. Ironically, the city’s soccer team is called Wormatia.

However, during Julius Caesar’s time, the city was known as Borbetamagus. It is a small but important city in the history of Germany. It has many historic sites, and last year it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage site list due to its Jewish history. The oldest Jewish cemetery in all of Europe is located in Worms.

The Diet of Worms was held there in 1521 where Martin Luther was called on to renounce or reaffirm his views on the church. The most famous epic, Das Nibelungenlied, took place in Worms, Germany.

Note from Editor: See Donna Baker-Hartwell’s July article about Ulrike Smith’s immigration story from Germany to the United States.