|Saturday morning, we headed north along
the Rhine to Cologne (Köln), eager to explore the Cologne Cathedral.
There are two guided tours on Saturdays, and we were there ready to join
the morning tour. Upon investigation, however, it appeared
that all tours were cancelled for that day. I assume it had
something to do with May 1 being a holiday, but I don't know.
Since visitors are welcome to wander around between services, we sat
through most of the 10:00 mass. Although I haven't the faintest
idea what was said, it was absolutely wonderful just sitting there,
looking around and listening to the choir and organ. Everywhere
you look, there are beautiful works of art. Stained-glass windows.
Sculptures. Priests in robes chasing down tourists who forgot to
leave their hats outside. Meanwhile, Russ decided to head up the
tower, all 509 steps, to see what he could see. I decided to buy
postcards, and I still believe I chose the wiser path. The views
from the top do appear quite wonderful, unless you are scared of
heights. And small staircases that wind around. Besides,
there were lots of postcards to choose from!
Cologne was settled by
the Romans as early as 30, and there are still many Roman walls in the
area. Including in the parking deck under the cathedral and in the
Domvorplatz, or courtyard. The Cologne Cathedral, as we know it,
is possibly the fourth building to stand here. The original
structure was a Roman temple, dating back around to when the city was
known as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. The first Christian
church stood here by 313, when Christianity was legalized by the Roman
Empire. By the 9th century , the "old Cathedral" , or
karolingische Dom had been erected. The relics of the Three Magi
were then transferred in 1164/5 from Milan, nominally in recognition of
the Dom being older , thereby making Cologne a major pilgrimage
site (thus requiring a larger church). The building of the current
Cathedral began in 1248, eventually ceased in the mid 1500's due to lack
of funding, and began again in 1823 after the original plans were
found. The Cathedral was finished in 1880 - 600 years after it began.