A whiff of Cologne
May 17, 2012 1 Comment
On my way back to Berlin from Düsseldorf, I thought I’d stop at one of the many cities that form the Rhine-Ruhr cluster in North Rhine-Westphalia. And soon as I stepped outside the train station in Cologne, I knew I’d chosen the right one.
This view greeted me immediately upon exiting the station:
The Kölner Dom, or Cologne Cathedral, is one of the two or three most magnificent churches I’ve ever seen. Work on the cathedral was begun in the 13th century, but not completed until 1880. It survived World War II mostly intact while most of the city was leveled (see this photo), possibly because the allied bombers hoped to continue using its twin spires — the second-tallest church spires in the world — as a navigational landmark. It’s the largest Gothic church in northern Europe and the tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world.
And it’s truly something to behold. Unfortunately, my photos can’t quite do it justice, since I had tremendous difficulty fitting the massive thing in my frame (despite some creative climbing efforts). But here’s a little sampling of views of the cathedral’s exterior and interior:
But Cologne is Germany’s fourth-largest city, and there’s more to it than a church. For instance, a cute waterfront park and strip (granted, with a view of the cathedral’s spires in the background):
And a bridge to which hundreds of lovers have affixed padlocks and thrown the keys into the Rhine. You can barely make them out, mottling the railing:
But to a visitor dropping in for a few hours, the cathedral is very much the highlight. For the cathedral alone, it’s worth making the trip to Cologne — from Düsseldorf, at least.