First stop on Thursday 16 was Cologne Cathedral. It is said to be the largest Cathedral in Europe. It is very imposing and can be seen virtually all over Cologne. Building began in the year 1200 and it still goes on, having needed extensive recovery after the war. It is constantly being cleaned by a team of 200 workers. Our photos will show some of the very fine work, and also the reason for the constant cleaning. Cologne is apparently a very polluted city – and that was evident by the smog as we drove in.
There are countless beautiful stained glass windows. The most notable is a large modern set of windows by Gerhard Richter. He is the most renowned artist in Germany. About 10 years ago he offered these windows to the church although he is an atheist. They are composed of thousands of four-inch ‘pixels’ cut from antique glass in 72 colours and arranged systematically in permutations of the three primary colours and grey. We looked at them for a long time. They are quite remarkable.
We visited another church which was very contrasting. It was very plain and relatively unadorned, and painted blue and white. It is a Benedictine Monastery called Monastische Gemeinschaften von Jerusalem and the church is called Gross St Martin. It was constructed from 1150 as a Benedictine abbey church, on the site of former Roman storehouses of the 2nd century. This church took other forms from the early Middle Ages. It suffered extensive damage during WW2 and was reopened in 1985. We arrived just as midday prayers were beginning. The monks and nuns led the service with beautiful 4 part singing and took it in turns to read parts of the service. If you wish, you can gain a glimpse of the inside here and of the beautiful choral effect. Although we could not understand the German except for the Lords Prayer, it was very good to be there.
Lunch was a treat at a German Bauhaus. On arrival at our table we were served Sion Kolsch beer. It is a Cologne (Koln) speciality and as is usual it is served in small straight 0,2l glasses. As you drain a glass it gets refilled, unless you place your coaster on top. We ate a typical light German meal – Brutwurst (blood sausage) an liverwurst (leberwurst) with rye rolls and onions. Delicious.
By now we did not have long to return to our car which was parked on the Rhine about 10 minutes away. A little panic as Alan wandered off to take more photos of the cathedral and we – Horst and I – lost him. Could have been a problem but his good sense of direction took him the right way and we caught him a little ahead of us.
We took our hosts for dinner at an Italian restaurant called Ernestos in the next village. It was a good choice, and we had a very good meal and our usual chatty time.