Our hotel is right by the cathedral, an enormous edifice. I have seen a cathedral or two but never one as huge as this one - the one in Barcelona may run it a fairly close second. Inside it is not as beautiful as Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk in Antwerp, but it does have some lovely windows and a few other amazing features.
|The Schmuck Madonna|
Down in the bowels of the earth below the cathedral they have the treasure vault with the usual complement of lavishly bejewelled vestments and regalia and reliquaries. I like a good reliquary. You wouldn't want to be a bishop in the Middle Ages: no sooner do you breathe your last or they pop you into a cauldron in the back yard and boil you down so they can sell bits of your bones to cathedrals all over the christian world to put in their reliquaries.
In various cathedrals over the years I have seen the Holy Blood on a bit of cloth, bits of the True Cross and little glass vials with drops of the Virgin's milk, and I have seen various bishops' knuckle bones and leg bones, but Cologne cathedral trumps them all. They have got a thorn from the Crown of Thorns, the head of St Sebastian (Allegedly: can't see that, it is inside a gold reliquary in the shape of a head, yuck!) and the p de resistance, the bones of all three wise men! Again allegedly: they are in a gold reliquary in a chapel behind bars so you have to take their word for it. Allegedly brought back from Jerusalem by the Crusaders. (Why did the wise men not go home after the Bethlehem Stable Visit? Why were they still there, or at least their bones, 1200 years later when the crusaders showed up? Who gave or sold them to the crusaders?)I would like to see them submit all this blood and milk and bones to DNA testing and carbon dating. Never mind the thorn. Saw no tooth fairy, but there was a saint in a stained glass window who bore an amazing resemblance to Santa. Red robe, beard and all.
|The reliquary allegedly containing |
the bones of the Three Wise Men
Saw pictures of how Cologne looked in 1945 after the RAF had done their worst and it was not a pretty sight. In clearing up and digging foundations for new buildings, they uncovered the foundations of the Roman city. We went to the Roman museum today. It is amazing, the most beautiful mosaic pavements, the statues and stuff, but I was particularly impressed by the jewellery - would not be out of place in a modern jewellery shop.
I wish I understood more German or they would deign to label stuff in English too. We got to go underground to see the Roman buildings. High "wow!" factor.
They also found some Frankish graves from the 4th and 5th centuries - Royal graves of the Meringovian lot. Clovis, the one whose sons are drifting away on the raft in that painting in the NSW gallery of Art ... his family. Amazing the stuff they buried with them.
Saw the Wallraff-Richartz Museum, small collection but some lovely stuff by Rembrandt, also a small but excellent Impressionist collection and a scary Edvard Munch - the four little doomed girls on the bridge. Showpiece is a collection of drawings by Goya of bullfights, and a similar series by Picasso, 150 years later. Those two old Spaniards knew their stuff. Absolutely entrancing.
I wanted to buy the book of the museum, but it is only in German. Every other museum has their book in a choice of languages! The herrenvolk doesn't bother.
We have bought some cologne - can't come to Cologne and not buy the old 4711! I am not buying a cuckoo clock. Why are they pushing cuckoo clocks? Isn't that Switzerland's job?
Tomorrow we are going to fahrt on the Rhine. A lot of fahrting goes on in Germany. They Infahrt and Ausfahrt and some places you have to buy a ticket to fahrt.
Till next time!