Friday, November 19, 2010
I didn't see nearly enough of it, but Levelers will like it because it's flat.
Tip: The large, comfortable and efficient Visitor Center is across the street from the cathedral. Warning: Watch out for the skateboarders who practice their skills on the cathedral square
Places of Christian worship have been on its site since the 4th century and before that the Romans had structures here although probably not the temple claimed by guide books. Ruins of a Roman house were uncovered during the building of an adjacent parking garage.
Tip: As you leave the cathedral, there is an elevator down to where you can look at the ruins through plate glass. Follow the sign to "toiletten" then to "Domturm Parkhaus". Better to do that than climb the 530-step spiral staircase to the tower although they tell me the view is spectacular.
The cornerstone for the current cathedral was laid in 1248; plans were for a cathedral worthy of housing the skulls and robes of the Magi that Frederick Barbarossa brought from Milan following the crusades. By 1517, the Reformation was underway, Vasco de Gama's discoveries were sending all the trade to Portugal and The Netherlands, the pope had his own cathedral to build in Rome (St. Peter's), Baroque style was all the rage and money had run out. Construction stopped.
Around 1800, the Romantics had made Gothic architecture the rage and the Protestant Prussian kings decided to complete the cathedral. They did but don't worry about the world ending because of it. Work continues today, repairing the damage of World War II, the poor choice of original materials and today's pollution.
Surprise: In 1670 the choirmaster handed out sugar sticks bent like shepherds' crooks. The first candy canes?
Tip: Do take a walking tour of Cologne if you can; it's flat and fun, especially the one on Cologne females. There are a lot of surprises, too, that you'd never notice without a guide.
Tip: Use the elevators, Levelers, and grab a folding chair to sit on when you tire, but do not miss this.
Suenner im Walfisch and hoist a Kolch beer (there are 24 brands; we had sunner).
The building dates from the Middle Ages, the clientele is native Kolners and the food is excellent. Finish your repast with an akrobar, a digestif that used to be an ancient medicine. You will have overeaten and it will settle your stomach.
Warning: The bathroom is up a winding staircase if you are seated on the ground floor.