Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cologne Cathedral

In Central Cologne, near the Train Station...

From the river, beyond the Philharmonie...

There are many magnificent photos of this space on the Internet.

It is difficult to capture it's grandeur and beauty.

It's hard to capture this World Heritage Site's majesty...

...and size.

This place has an amazing history. It was begun in the 1200s but left unfinished. Much more construction happened in the 1800's, and new windows are still being commissioned today, the last one installed in 2007. During WWII, the bombers were instructed to not hit it. I bought a postcard from 1945 that showed the complete destruction that occurred all around this place, but it was left untouched. Amazing. I invite you to follow some of the links above, to the official site, the World Heritage site, or the Wikipedia site. Or google it yourself and read about this place. It's really something.

I was amazed by this space.

I was amazed by the sacredness of it.

Not to take away from the sacredness,
but here is a photo S took of me with the little camera.
The light was low in this place, so it's grainy.

But, here's what I want to say - when I see photos of myself cheesing it up, I think I look a little like this guy:

His cheeks - jowls? - and mine - they are similar, no? The American Dad and I are similarly ilked with large cheek areas. Me, Stan and the squirrel family are blessed with this virtue.

OK, back to this sacred space.

My photos were taken in the late morning on an overcast day.
Lots of light streamed through the space.

I was mesmerized, as I often am, with the ceiling.
You can see one window under construction in this photo.

This was a ceiling in a vestibule that was amazing.

Over there in the center of the main choir... the Shrine of the Three Kings - the largest reliquary in the western world.
It is thought to house the remains of the Three Kings.

This is one of the many organs - I think this is the nave organ.

In the chapel area, the floor is covered with these amazing mosaics.

This winged altar-piece, which dates from about 1350/60, was originally located in the Franciscan Church of St Clare in Cologne and was only transferred to the cathedral when that church was deconsecrated and demolished. At the center of the altar-piece is a protruding shrine casket. The altar-piece has a pair of double wings, which means that three different transformations—each magnificent and each very different from the other—are possible. The paintings on the wings were painted over in the year 1400. Unfortunately, when the altar-piece was restored between 1907 and 1909, the value of these more recent, medieval paintings was not fully appreciated and so, the medieval paintings were removed from both sides of the outer wings, revealing the older paintings.

Up there in the center of this altar, where you can purchase a candle to light for prayers, is the Jeweled Madonna. Before the robe was replaced and the jewelery rearranged in 1991, the Jeweled Madonna was hung with countless items of jewelery. It has long been a custom to leave gifts of gold and silver at the shrine of this statue in Cologne Cathedral. With the exception of a few votive offerings made especially for this purpose, most of the jewelery offered up are personal items such as gold chains, strings of pearls, small crosses, rings, bracelets, earrings, and gold watches. On January 4, 1969, the faithful of the archdiocese were shocked and dismayed to learn that the pane of glass protecting the Madonna had been smashed and some of the items of jewelery stolen. Nice, huh?

These guys - the ones in the robes - they watch over the space.

They collect the alms and tell people to take off their hats and stuff like that.

S and I - we lit a candle in this space.
I felt moved to do so.

Sometime soon I'll share with you a few of the photos we took of the stained glass windows. See you then.


  1. American Dad called. They think you are wrong. You do not look like him.

    However, they are filing a suit against you for copyright infringement...use of their image without permission.

    Love and kisses,
    (not one of your official followers, because I can't set up a doggone email account through google...but still a follower at heart.)

  2. So glad you and S. got to the Cologne (Koln) cathedral. It is truly magnificent and we are so fortunate to have it survive WW II bombings. What would Germany look like if we hadn't have had to bomb most major cities to smithereens??

  3. I love these pictures!!! Reminds me a little of all the cathedrals we toured while in Austria! Thanks for sharing.


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