This blog is a continuation of my previous one where I talked about discovering places and buildings besides the well-known Cathedral.

The highlight of our walk was seen to be the Cathedral but there was so much else to see and learn as we made our way to this magnificent Gothic building. As we walked through the Old Town, stopping in the squares and lanes, we saw a row of houses which had been built in the 18th century. Unfortunately, they had been badly damaged during WW2 but, within in 2 years of the end of the war, they had been lovingly restored to their former glory.

The same building renovated in 1946-1947
Building from 1777


From the Alter Markt where we had seen the statue of Jan von Werth it was just a short walk to the Cathedral. Gerhard of Ryle was the original architect and mason of the Cathedral, there is the legend of the involvement of Satan in both the building of the Cathedral and of Gerhard himself.

Jan von Werth statue in Alter Markt Square

He began building in 1248 but, legend has it, that he made a pact with the devil who said that he would not see the Cathedral completed. Gerhard, “I would bet the devil that I will finish what I have started.” The devil replied that he had now sold his soul and that, before it was finished, he would have created a stream with ducks swimming down it. Gerhard didn’t believe him until one day, as he stood on top the North Spire, he saw ducks swimming down a canal. He got such a shock that he jumped off the spire. This is a legend and it is more likely that he fell to his death and so did not see the building completed. His soul was believed to haunt the Cathedral until it was finally completed in 1880. It is really beautiful with 2 wonderfully crafted spires which are visible from all around the city.

Front of the Cathedral showing the 2 tall spires to the left

The idea of building a cathedral came about after Frederick Barbarossa stole the relics of the Magi from a church in Milan in 1164. These relics were originally in Constantinople having been found by St Helen, mother of Constantine.  In 344, the relics were taken to Milan where they were given to Eustorgius I for safe-keeping and 800 years later Barbarossa stole them and took them to Cologne. In 1180 it was decided to place them in a golden sarcophagus or stone coffin to be created by the goldsmith, Nicholas Verdun. The significance of the relics, the grandeur of the reliquary, the size of the crowds which came to see it and the money which flowed into Cologne led to the decision to build the Cathedral.  The relics were then placed in what is the largest reliquary in the Western World – 60x87x43 inches, made of wood, covered in gold, silver, jewels and beads. It is found behind the High Altar which is dedicated to St Paul.

The Reliquary

Near the entrance to the Cathedral is a fountain decorated with clusters of small stone gnomes busy at work. Above them, a woman holds out a lantern. A local legend tells of a troop of small gnomes, or Heinzelmännchen, who toiled through the night to do the chores of the city’s inhabitants.

Fountain with the gnomes and young woman

The inside of the Cathedral is very grand and imposing with tall, stained-glass windows down the 2 sides. The Nave is 144m long, the longest in Germany and has an aisle on either side. It has a modern, bronze altar created by Elmar Hillebrand over the 11 years from 1960-1971. In direct contrast are the choir stalls which date from the 14th century and have 104 seats with 2 reserved seats being one each for the Pope and the Emperor. The choir screen pictures were painted in about 1340 and depict 21 narrative scenes. Above the paintings in the choir are older pier sculptures of Jesus, Mary and the twelve apostles.

Clear stained-glass windows
Nave with organ pipes

We were told that just a short walk from the cathedral, along the Komödienstrasse leads to the famous Römerbrunnen, which is next to the Burgmauer (ancient city wall). Franz Brantzky built the fountain in 1915; it was heavily damaged during World War II and then restored in 1955. Perched upon a column is the she-wolf who, according to legend, suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Our group didn’t walk down that way so I don’t have a photo, but you can see it on the site marked above.

Once we had finished at the Cathedral we returned to the boat and had another delicious lunch before the 2 of us decided to take a walk in the opposite direction to that which we had taken this morning. We walked about a km down the road and came to the Lindt Schokoladen Museum and shop. We didn’t have the time or wish to spend 30Euros each to visit the museum but we did enjoy wandering around the huge shop. Every kind of chocolate one could desire, but none for diabetics. Trevor bought himself 2 different chocolate bars which he said were delicious.

Chocolate selection
Cat Lindt chocolates
Dinosaur chocolate
Sign for chocolate museum

We ambled back to the boat for a relaxing afternoon in the lounge chatting with other passengers.