Cologne, Germany Wed., Sept. 19, 2018
Cologne (Koln) is an old city - established in 50 AD by the Romans and there is lots to see and do.
Kolsch beer, cologne, chocolate and a massive Gothic cathedral. These are some of the things Cologne is known for. We sampled and saw them all!
Our tour this morning started at the magnificent cathedral - a UNESCO site. The goal at the time (1248) was to build the largest cathedral in the world. The reason? The prince bishop took the bones of the magi (three wise men) in 1164 from Milan as a war prize and needed to build something spectacular to put them in. The reliquary took 30 years to build but the cathedral took 632 years. It opened in 1880. It wasn’t the biggest but it was the tallest building in the world at the time.
Every Jan. 6 (Epiphany or Three Kings Day) they open the coffin so people can look at the bones.
The church is full of stunning stain glass. It is thought that the light hitting the stain glass gives our spirits a glimpse in to heaven. Thankfully the cathedral wasn’t bombed in WWII - most of the city centre was flattened. The stain glass had been removed to protect it. Good thinking! The church is under constant restoration and there is a stone mason shop with 80 employees that work on the sandstone and stain glass.
We learned about Kolsch beer and later tried some. Kolsch is like champagne or sherry...it is a region specific beverage and can only be made in Cologne. There are 25 brands in Cologne. It is served in small glasses to keep the carbonation fresh that will be refilled (at a cost) unless you put your coaster on top of the glass to indicate you are done.
We toured by city hall (Rathaus in German) and saw numerous couples getting married. It was interesting seeing their tradition of cutting a heart out of a sheet and then the groom carries the bride through the heart hole.
The Germans are a cheeky bunch and often use humour to make a statement in their sculptures. The guy below is mooning the Rathaus.
Cologne had a reputation of being a stinky city - something to do with dumping sewage in the streets and people being afraid of water so bathed very infrequently.
An Italian perfumer, John Farina, moved to Cologne and started extracting aromas from fruits mixed with alcohol and it became eau de Cologne. This made Cologne world famous. There were 50 makers in Cologne but now there are only two left - Farina and 4711. I bought some of both.
After the tour we went off on our own and had THE most delicious soup (I had sauerkraut and others had potato) at Peter’s Brauhaus and tried Kolsch. I don’t like beer but I tried one.
We also toured the chocolate museum. Interesting and yummy. Chocolate is plentiful (and delicious) in this part of Europe!
It was a beautiful evening to walk around Cologne after dinner.
I really enjoyed our time in Cologne and I would like to come back and explore more one day. Our guide told us their Mardi Gras celebration is a renowned party but don't come if crowds aren't your thing.