Monday, 4 January 2016


Köln - Keulen - Cologne
We are going to Cologne for our next trip. I have prepared by going through all my books collecting facts and impressions about the town.

Thomas of Aquino, Petrus de Danica and Gustaf Trolle all went to university there and the two first one studied under Albertus Magnus who died 1280. The university was known as "stock-conservative" and was one of the last to abandon Aristotelian theory about physics. (Do not get me started on the f%#&n Aristotle.)

The current Dome and cathedral was founded on an earlier church but had its founding stone laid on 1248. The cathedral holds the relics of the Three Magi - the three holy kings whom we know with the help of Marco Polo to have been neither holy nor kings nor three, and the relics have been proven to be no older than the 4th century. We will be there for Three Kings Day and will possibly, reputedly just as Chaucer's The wife of Bath, go and visit them as a pilgrimage. (I can however not find the quote in my abridged modern language Chaucer.)

Population has been estimated to 15 000 in around the year 1200, 37 000 by 1320 and after the plague in 1348/1350 to around 20 000. This and other things causes the work on the cathedral to slow down in the 14th century. When King Philip II of Spain came to visit 10-14 July 1550, holy relics were for sale and he bought loads. The crane on the tower can be seen on many paintings from the 14th to 18th century as a symbol of the town.
The original building plans for the Dome were apparently found again in 1814 and the building continue in 1842, finalising the cathedral in 1880.

In 1825 Erik Gustav Geijer visited and wrote about the city in his diary. The crane was still there on the cathedral tower. He liked the town more than Baron Riesbeck, William Bedford and W. M. Thackerey who came through on their respective Grand Tour.

We will visit the Wallraff-Richartz Museum and the Schnütgenmuseum. We love the Ludwig Museum but after having spent more than six hours there in 2013 (and got ushered out for being the last ones) we are going to give that a miss this time. We also hope to fit a visit to the St Ursula basilica, monastery and bone collection (the bones of the ten thousand virgins!) in the brief visiting hours, hopefully avoiding having to got to Mass just to get in.

The city held a peace conference between April and November 1579, was the founder of  Kölnfederationen where the hanseatic cities along the Rhine, with some other cities and the kingdom of Sweden joined forces against the kingdom of Denmark, and had a Fyrstmøte in 1523 on what to do with the deposed king Chrestian II of Denmark (nothing, he got no money).

The Jesuits built a headquarter with the St Maria Himmelfahrt where they developed the adoration of Mary and Anne as saints. Reputedly the use of the rosary also originated in Cologne.

In 1471 William Caxton learnt to print with movable types in Cologne before he became the first printer in England. In 1914 Walter Gropius designed and constructed the now famous and recognisable factory buildings for the Werkbundexhibition. In August of 1914 trains with forty-four waggons went over the Hohenzollern bridge every ten minutes with troops and equipment for the German advancement on France.

In 1943 and again later, the city was bombed to pieces. Although the Dome was hit by seventeen air bombs and was damaged, the tower still stood. All non-degenerate art had been removed in advance (the degenerate art of course confiscated long before the war) but the art museum buildings were destroyed. They have now been rebuilt and are continuously rebuild and developed with new interesting exhibitions every year, making a re-visit often worth its while. There is also a historical mustard mill, making, sacrilegiously, mustard with beer.
Recently a lead emblem with three kings from the 14th century was found in a Swedish archaeological dig, showing that somebody had made the pilgrimage to the shrine of the three magi and returned home - only to loose the souvenir.


  1. All that is in Köln? I need to get out more. I really hate it when art and antiquities are stolen or destroyed by war (or any other reason). The Middle East is having the same losses now. How can the same species be so wonderfully creative and viciously destructive?

    1. All of this about Köln in my books only; in reality there is of course even more. Or was more, now either lost forever, changed into something else or to be seen somewhere else.