Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cologne Part 1

Last weekend we trained across Germany to see Cologne and the Rhine.

Our first steps out of the Cologne train station brought us to the base of the towering Gothic Cathedral, one of the biggest in Europe, and certainly the biggest that either Owen and I have ever seen. I have heard about these churches—the scale and workmanship that have gone into them. I have seen pictures. But I did not understand until I became dwarfed standing next to one.

See the highest point on the cathedral? That tiny little flourish?
This is how big it really is:

I don't think that I can explain much more. You will have to come and see it for yourself.

Construction started on this church in 1248, thanks to the funds raised by pilgrims coming to see the churches most important relic: The Gold Casket that contains the Relics of the Magi. Apparently parts of the wise men are inside. The church has 2 other notable relics: A crucifix dating from 970AD that was responsible for miracles, and a painting of Mary, also responsible for some miracles.

When money stopped, so did the building of the church. The two front biggest towers at the front of the church were left unfinished for over 200 years. Then, in the mid 1800's, construction began again. The Cathedral was finished in 1880. It is still considered a fully Gothic Cathedral, because it was completed according to the original plans drawn in the 13th century.
The history of this building is thick. This is the third church built on this site. The first structure was a Roman house, as excavations of Roman cellars and baths have revealed. After that a small church, that was expanded over many years. Eventually that was torn down to make way for this Cathedral.
When they tried to build a parking garage underneath the Church, they found the Roman ruins.

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  1. Ok, I'll come see it for myself! I love wandering around old Gothic churches. And you're right, they are so hard to explain. The size, the craftsmanship, the light, the stone -- they add up to an experience.

    Keep having fun.

  2. Fascinating history, isn't it? And I love the picture of you standing beside the "flourish" to give an idea of scale. Amazing structures.

  3. It looks so ornate for a Gothic church. And not finished until 1880. That's amazing! Is it still a functioning church?

  4. Gerry - it is very much still a functioning church. There are priests with donations at every corner, and they hold 4 services a day. Pretty amazing.