Speyer (German pronunciation, older spelling Speier, known as Spire in French and formerly as Spires in English) is a town in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km (16 miles) south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities. The first known names were Noviomagus and Civitas Nemetum, after the Teutonic tribe, Nemetes, settled in the area. Around AD 500 the name Spira first appeared in written documents and, as well as the French, this is still reflected in the names Spira and Espira used in Italian and Spanish. The city's name may be the origin of the Ashkenazi Jewish name, Shapiro, and its variants. Speyer is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral, a number of churches and the Altpörtel (old gate). In the cathedral, beneath the high altar, are the tombs of eight Holy Roman emperors and German kings. The city is famous for the 1529 Protestation at Speyer.