Once I'd discovered the Fastnachtsbrunnen, the Mardi Gras well, I felt like Christopher Columbus on an adventure trail… mind you, not across the oceans but through my own home town. And that in itself can be quite an adventure, and extremely exciting. I've always been crazy about the Kölner Dom, the Cologne cathedral, but I must admit I last set foot in it more than 30 years ago, although since then in passing by I've often stood looking up at it with glazed eyes and the kind of open-mouthed awe and fascination with which a child will take in a beautifully decorated and lit-up Christmas tree.
Admittedly, I once wrote that churches don't do much for me, but in the case of the Kolner Dom(Kölner Dom) Cologne cathedral it's very different. After all, I won't be concentrating on its historical background and the marvel of its architecture, but on the effect it has on one.
Kolner Dom(Kölner Dom)
You can just sense the atmosphere the Gothic masonry exudes, and go back to that time when labourers toiled away at building the cathedral. In one's mind's eye, images of a time gone by are conjured up of a people slogging away at the mercy of their own strength, the deftness of their hands and limited tools. I see grazed hands, broken skin, sense aching backs and muscles, smell perspiration, hear moans and groans, and taste the tears of utter exhaustion. I tune into the vision that its builders must have had, those who conceptualised this mighty work of architecture, designing and redesigning it. Even though it became the victim of destruction on numerous occasions, it was never fully destroyed. When you touch the columns and run your hands over the stonework, you can almost feel the powerful energy this building exudes.
For me, the Kolner Dom Cologne cathedral is a building that radiates power. When I make my way across the Deutzer bridge by bicycle in the morning and I get a glimpse of it from the opposite bank of the River Rhine, it already tends to have a powerful effect on me. With its steeples reaching for the skies, standing proud and honourable, almost defiant, it radiates an enormous amount of energy.
I love standing right in front of it and look up at the artistically designed walls and towers with their untold number of figurines silhouetted against the sky. Sometimes I even make believe I can get a closer view of the sky like this. It's weird watching the clouds go by above the steeple tops and when you look up it's almost as though the cathedral is going to fall over :-) But don't worry, it's only an illusion!
The atmosphere inside is captivating, and I was secretly wishing that I could be almost alone inside the cathedral on that day to take in the silence and feel the energy. Unfortunately there were loads of tourists. The huge stunning stained glass windows are very impressive and amplify the cathedral's aura.
When you look up from the nave it seems to go on forever. Because of this, the cathedral always comes across as much bigger on the inside than from the outside. It's kind of bizarre.
Unfortunately time has taken its toll on the masonry. The lime sandstone is very weather beaten, and where the weather hasn't made itself felt, the doves and pollution have done the rest. It's become a perpetual building site and folklore has it that one day when the renovations are finally completed, the end of the world will be near. Maybe that's why it will never be completed. That's kind of eerie.
This is my own personal view and experience of the Kölner Dom. That's why I'm attached to it and have great respect for the achievement that has manifested itself in this structure over 750 years. I take my hat off to the perseverance of all who were involved in building it, rebuilding it, maintaining it, and still maintaining it to this day.
Even from outside the dome acts as a magnet. Not purely because of its unique historical architecture and international cultural heritage, but also for artists of all genres. Everywhere you look you'll see mime artists, musicians and artists who incidentally draw beautiful chalk pictures on to the pavement. The cathedral is surrounded by coffee shops. Then there is also Hohestraße with its countless number of shops and hotels, not to mention the main railway station. How can the world possibly end with so much activity? Even if the cathedral were to be completed some day, it will still remain the pulse of the city.
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