Cologne Cathedral between Roman Towers and Crane Houses

The spectacular sky matches the spectacular Cathedral as we walk from the Rhine River to its entrance.

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Above: the Ludwig Museum of Modern Art in the foreground.

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The back of the cathedral

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North side, flying buttresses

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North tower

Below are more details of one door, and carved figures around the same door.

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Construction began in 1248 and didn’t finish until 1880! Emperor Wilhelm I presided over the opening of what was the tallest building in the world. (Four years later, in 1884, the Washington Monument topped it.) Over the years, builders and architects worked from the original plans, so the church remained Gothic in style throughout over 600 years of construction.

The interior height of the nave is 144 feet, one of the tallest in Europe.

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The stained glass windows didn’t last through the centuries, World War II bombings and battles near the cathedral shattered many of them.  During reconstruction in the 1950s, builders replaced some windows with clear glass.

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Below is a photograph taken in 1945 showing the destroyed railroad bridge and damaged cathedral. (Note: Poor photo quality, as the photo displayed under plastic.)

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Modern art made its way into a south facing window in 2007, when Gerhard Richter created a random pixel design in 72 colors to cover its 1,200 square feet.

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Above: Floor mosaics

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God, Jesus, the 4 apostles, and a world map that doesn’t include North and South America.

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The Crucifix of Bishop Gero, 10th century, the oldest known large crucifix.

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The High Altar from 1322 is topped with a solid 15-foot slab of black marble

On the streets and underground, we see remnants of the 1st century Roman colony, Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium.  Beneath the Roman gate on the Cathedral plaza, we chat with two Camino de Compostela de Santiago pilgrims, beginning their long walk to Spain. We wish “Buen Camino” to them on Jakobsweg, as it is called in German.

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We also visit a stone tower, which marked the northwest corner of the Roman settlement. Check out the 2,000-year old mosaic design.

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On our way to mid-morning ice cream, we passed another tower, its base from Roman times.

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Roman foundation stones even support the cathedral. This hall cuts through the foundation stones:

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Also beneath the cathedral is a partially reconstructed storage chamber believed to part of a wealthy Roman merchant’s house.

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Mary has to squeeze in one more tourist outing, so she visits the Deutsches Sport & Olympia Museum. Brutally hot due to no air conditioning, she rushes through the history of assorted sports. The museum details the Olympics’ beginning in ancient Greece and displays a replica of a Greek bronze discus.  Also pictured below, a mechanical betting machine from the early 20th century, used in 6-day racing (people on bikes in a velodrome) and horse racing.

Our final morning walk along the Rhine River takes us below three 17-story cantilevered shimmering glass and steel buildings.

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Reminiscent of the harbor cranes that served Cologne’s shipping industry, they are each called Kranhaus (Crane House). Built in 2008, architects Alfons Linster and Hadi Teherani designed them.

On our last night in the city that was once part of the Roman Empire, even the spectacular cathedral is dwarfed by the sky’s colors at sunset.

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© Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds, 2018

 

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