So I totally forgot to take a picture of Koln (Cologne) cathedral with my phone so it's a random picture of locks on a bridge in Koln from my guidebook.
My trip to Koln started badly- I still don't know how I did it but I got on the wrong train. It was going to Munich lol. I ended up in Nurnberg after 4 hours on the train. Nurnberg is 3.5 hours from Koln haha. Sooo dumb but seriously I checked the schedule, saw Koln listed, went to that platform, saw it was leaving at the right time and thought "wow this train is going far" but never once, until 40 min outside of Nurnberg, did I think I was on the wrong train lol. So now I've been to Nurnberg (home of the war trials) and I took like 2 pictures lol. Back on the train, I finally made it to Koln at 5:30 pm- I left at 8:45 am lol. Oh well I consider it a break and a chance to catch up on blogging.
I visited the Koln Dom like 3 times. The outside is most impressive with huge spires and so many gorgeous details that it is in constant renovation. It took 600 years to build (though they took some time off- like 400 years) and it was the tallest building in the world until the Eiffel Tower was built. Some of the items in the cathedral are very old- like the Gero Crucifix, which is from the 10th century and some of the windows, as old as the 12th century. I took a tour in the church and the guide spoke about several of the widows, including one from the 1960's that, in one pane, features an angel saving a little boy... From being hit by a car. A little different than the usual biblical scenes. There is also the pixel window on the south transept, replacing a window broken in WWII. Of course there is also the Shrine of the Three kings, a huge box made with gold and jewels housing the crowed skulls of 3 men who they say are the 3 wisemen who visited baby Jesus. The guide said the importance of the church lies in those relics. They are the reason pilgrims came to Koln and without the relics, the spirit of the church would be gone. Three gold crowns are on the Koln coat of arms- it's the symbol of the city. We actually got to go inside the iron gates to get a better look at the shrine, so that was cool.
After the tour I visited the treasury. They have an amazing collection of gold and jeweled items, relics and even a staff which was supposedly St Peter's. There was a break-in in 1975 in which many items were lost and some damaged. Then I climbed up the belfry- all 588 steps. Ugh lol. You basically climb up the south spire, which is pretty cool. You get a good view of Koln and you are among the spires! Picture taking is limited because of the wire preventing people from jumping, so that sucked.
I visited a couple other churches- Koln has 12 churches in a semi- circle around the Altstadt area which housed relics to protect the city. The best was St Ursula (Shout out to mom!)
St Ursula, a girl of 12, had a number of female attendants -uh 10 000 virgins- and this is shown in a statue and a 15th century triptych in the Koln Dom. Anyway, the church commemorates the saint's attempts to maintain celibacy while being engaged. She died during a siege an now St Ursula church claims to have her skull. However it's not the only skull they have- there are over 700 in a room off the side of the church (apparently called a kammer). I had to pay 2 euros to see it but it was worth it. Designs and words made of bones line the upper parts of the 4 walls, and skulls partly covered in fancy material line the walls. There are other relics- like teeth. Creepy. All the skulls belong to women who were murdered- it wasn't clear what happened or if they were martyrs.
I also went to a Gestapo prison, which was in the basement of an office building they rented. They had some information on floors 1 & 2 but the prison was the most interesting. Prisoner inscriptions from WWII are still well preserved. Prisoners stayed here from anywhere from a couple days to a couple months. They were held in order to be questioned by the Gestapo. Russians, French, Ukrainian... There were calendars, love letters, poems, goodbyes. You can see all 10 cells, where the toilet was and a bunker. One man escaped through a room next to the bunker- the guard went to answer a phone call and the door was unlocked. Inside the room the windows weren't barred. He was the only prisoner to ever escape. Others were moved, executed on the premises or died in the prison. It was overcrowded, dirty and disease became an issue.
During WWII the train bridge was bombed. Now it is covered in locks and there are a couple statues. Walking along the Rhein, there's lots of touristy restaurants and a museum and chocolate factory. Don't know why I passed on that one lol.
That night I met up with my Australian friend Holly, who I met at the Berlin hostel. We went to the Gaffel Kolsh beer hall. They serve the local Kolsh beer in .2 l glasses for freshness. We both ordered the pot roast with dumplings. It was good. Afterwards we notices there was some music coming from the Dom Forum, the company that ran my Dom tour. It was called Rock the Dom and they had two bands. All the bands sang in English but spoke to the crowd in German. the best part was the 4 old, slightly dirty, men who were showing off their awesome dance moves throughout the show lol. It was awesome- it sort of made the town lol. It was nice seeing a familiar face too, not to mention eating with someone! Holly and I had fun- impromptu fun. It's the way to go.
Oh and the Koln Dom at night is spectacular.