It has been awhile since I updated, for which I apologize, but I had iffy internet a lot and there reaches a point of terrifying backlog and do I skip that or forge ahead and backtrack later that is quite intimidating. So I shall cover Cologne as of yet now and see how I feel then.
Yesterday was Monday, which means most museums were closed. When possible, if you are staying somewhere for just one day, try not to make it a Sunday or a Monday because you might miss something you really wanted to see. Due to the lack of open museums, my personal preference for places to go, I went to my other favorite type, you guessed it! A church!
The Cathedral of Cologne is a massive and gorgeous Gothic structure. Although it was built in two separate phases primarily and those about 300 years apart, it is a very harmonious space. As my guide pointed out, it is the most visited place in Germany, getting about 22,000 visitors a day as well as being smaller only than massive churches like St. Peter and St. Paul. What is most impressive is the sheer height of the aisles. The ceiling is 44 meters high and it is almost impossible to truly capture the impression of that height in a picture. I tried….finally I just took a video…we will see if the internet will let me upload it.
The large majority of the windows are comparatively recent, as Cologne was practically demolished during WWII. As cathedrals do, the new windows are the result of the donations of wealthy benefactors who then get to put their initials and a seal of some kind in the bottom row. One such company, Saturn (not the one you are thinking of), didn’t have a seal per say so there is a glass Saturn in the corner of the window. Now the windows in the choir of the church are the ones that were deemed important enough to be taken down during the war, so they survived. The cathedral as a whole is constantly undergoing cleaning of some kind and the upkeep is enormous.
Now, the true reason it was built was because when a force from this area took Milan, they "relocated" (read: stole as booty of war) the bones of the Three Magi. When it came here, the smaller church that was on the site just wasn’t big enough for the pilgrims who came to see it. The building was started in 1248, but sadly ran out of funds only 60 years in, with only the choir truly completed. So, a "temporary" wall was built across the choir and a door built for pilgrims to come in that had them walk around the choir and directly to the shrine containing the bones. The rest of the building site was roofed with wood and used as a space for the million pilgrims to sleep. The crane on top of one end of the unfinished portion became the symbol of Cologne.
The funniest part of all of it is that in terms of the story of the three Magi, it makes no sense for all three of their bodies to have ended up together in a tomb in Jerusalem where they were found by the mother of Constantine and on top of that, the three skeletons inside belong to an older man, a middle-aged man and a teenager…so what do you think is the verdict on these guys?
But this church, which dominates the center of the city, is really gorgeous and I can see why so many people visit it.