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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

See what I saw at the Cologne Cathedral , Germany by Wale Ojo Lanre , Turism Editor , Nigerian Tribune

See what I saw at the Cologne Cathedral , Germany by Wale Ojo Lanre , Turism Editor , Nigerian Tribune 
What I saw in Cologne Cathedral, Germany
Written by: Wale Ojo Lanre
Nigerian Tribune
Wednesday 3 June 2015
The weather was African on Thursday, May 21, 2015 and all through the period of IMEX, the African-friendly-weather took over and made it comfortable for me to enjoy the ambience of Europe.
I got to the Frankfurt Central Station, obtained an 80 Euro Frankfurt-Cologne-Bonn return ticket, and headed for platform nine waiting for the scheduled train to berth. The ICE Train is a beautiful fish-like train, which does a 280-Km/h.
The ICE Train is ran by a private company, which offers excellent and prompt service, which comes with a higher tariff.
I planted myself on a seat, put my laptop on the table, plugged my phones and bought the Wifi code for five euro.
Thus, I was on to the internet browsing and communicating with friends, maintaining contact without noticing the turbo speed of the train until the driver announced our arrival at cologne central station.
I disembarked from the train to the embrace of a lecturer from Osun State University, Don Fajemila, who had been waiting for me as his train had arrived earlier from Bonn.
Fajemila is pursuing his Phd in Geology in one of the Universities in Bonn.
“You are welcome sir,” said Don Fajemila. This is Cologne, the fourth largest city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg and Bonn. The largest city both in the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than 10 million inhabitants,” Fajemila informed.
As we approached the Cathedral, we ran into a mammoth crowd of visitors conservatively about 7,500.
However, before I could raise any surprise, we were informed, “this is Germany’s most visited tourist centre. It hosts an average of 20,000 visitors a day.
Cologne Cathedral is a building of superlatives, the centre and hallmark of the city on the Rhine. The cornerstone of Gothic Cathedral was laid on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15, 1248.
The previous building was apparently no longer deemed impressive enough to house the remains of the Three Wise Men, which Archbishop Rainald von Dassel had brought to Cologne from Milan after the latter city was conquered in 1164. Because of these relics, the cathedral became one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Europe. Its two massive towers have dominated the city’s skyline since their completion in 1880. At 157.38 metres, the northern tower is seven centimetres taller than the southern one.
The cathedral is Cologne’s second-tallest structure, surpassed only by the telecommunications tower. The cathedral covers almost 8,000 square metres of floor space and can hold more than 20,000 people. Due to the building’s impressive Gothic architecture, the shrine of the Three Wise Men, the outstanding stained-glass windows and the many other important works of art, UNESCO declared Cologne Cathedral a World Heritage Site in 1996.
Construction begun in 1248, the building of the Gothic masterpiece took place in several stages and was not completed until 1880.
Over seven centuries, its successive builders were inspired by the same faith and by a spirit of absolute fidelity to the original plans.
Apart from its exceptional intrinsic value and the artistic masterpieces it contains, Cologne Cathedral bears witness to the strength and endurance of European Christianity. No other Cathedral is perfectly conceived, so uniformly and uncompromisingly executed in all its parts.
Cologne Cathedral is a High Gothic five-aisled basilica (144.5 m long), with a projecting transept (86.25 m wide) and a tower façade (157.22 m high). The nave is 43.58 m high and the side-aisles 19.80 m.
The western section, nave and transept begun in 1330, changes in style, but this is not perceptible in the overall building.
The 19th century work follows the medieval forms and techniques faithfully, as can be seen by comparing it with the original medieval plan on parchment.
The original liturgical appointments of the choir are still extant to a considerable degree. These include the high altar with an enormous monolithic slab of black limestone believed to be the largest in any Christian church, the carved oak choir stalls (1308-11), the painted choir screens (1332-40), the 14 statues on the pillars in the choir (c. 1300).
Others include the great cycle of stained-glass windows, the largest existent cycle of early 14th century windows in Europe. There is also an outstanding series of tombs of 12 archbishops between 976 and 1612.
Of the many works of art in the Cathedral, special mention should be made of the Gero Crucifix of the late 10th century, in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which was transferred from the pre-Romanesque predecessor of the present Cathedral, and the Shrine of the Magi (1180-1225), in the choir, which is the largest reliquary shrine in Europe. Other artistic masterpieces are the altarpiece of St. Clare (c. 1350-1400) in the north aisle, brought here in 1811 from the destroyed cloister church of the Franciscan nuns, the altarpiece of the City Patrons by Stephan Lochner (c. 1445) in the Chapel of Our Lady, and the altarpiece of St. Agilolphus (c. 1520) in the south transept.
Criterion (i): Cologne Cathedral is an exceptional work of human creative genius.
Criterion (ii): Constructed over more than six centuries Cologne Cathedral marks the zenith of cathedral architecture and at the same time its culmination.
Criterion (iv): Cologne Cathedral is a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe.
Cologne Cathedral contains all the elements necessary to express the Outstanding Universal Value and is of appropriate size. All features and structures to convey its significance as Gothic masterpiece are present.
Cologne Cathedral has lost its original architectural context, but in the 19th and 20th century an urban ensemble has been created around it, of which the building of the new Wallraf-Richartz-Museum is the last element. Form and design, use and function of Cologne Cathedral have remained unchanged during the centuries of construction. All the work, from the 13th to the 19th century, was carried out with scrupulous respect for the original design, and this tradition was continued in the post World War II reconstruction. In this respect, Cologne Cathedral may be considered as sui generis and hence its authenticity is absolute.
Protection and management requirements
The laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia guarantee the consistent protection of the Cologne Cathedral and its surroundings: The Cathedral is a listed monument according to paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Act on the Protection and Conservation of Monuments in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, dated 11March 1980 (Protection Law). Conservation and building activities within and outside the property and in the buffer zone are regulated by paragraph 9 (2) of the Protection Law and Local Building Plans in order to ensure the effective protection of the important views of the Cathedral.
A Steering Committee (the Cathedral Construction Commission or Dombaukommission), which was established in 1946 and consists of the Archbishop of Cologne, the Dean of the Cathedral, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cologne, the Minister of the State North Rhine-Westphalia in charge of monument protection and the State Conservator of the Ministry, supervises the work of the Cathedral Workshop.
The Cathedral Workshop under the leadership of the Cathedral architect is responsible for the maintenance, conservation and restoration in the medieval tradition and acts in concert with the regional and local historic monument conservation authorities.
The management system consists of a set of maintenance and conservation measures which is annually reviewed and updated when required by the steering committee
All these facts are evident as we entered the huge hallowed chamber of the cathedral with and saw the pristine artefacts of row of pews, the giant cylindrical columns and the underground praying rooms
Climbing the tower by 478 steps
Having a tour of the interior of the Cathedral would be incomplete without an attempt at climbing the Tower, which is only 157.22 metres high in order to obtain a panoramic view of the city of Cologne.
Although, we did not pay for the tour of the Dome as we did so by ourselves not with a professional tour conductor, but for climbing the tower, we had to pay two euro each for the fact that we displayed our student identity cards while others paid four euro.
Climbing the tower is by foot as there is no escalator in those days and there is no way the building can accommodate such a mechanical device because of its design.
The road to the tower is made up of 478 narrow cylindrical steps, which to my surprise were climed by many.
Though tiresome, we were encouraged by those descending who were usually in the habit of telling us “just a few more steps.”
In addition, it took an approximately 20 minutes to ascend and same to descend.
But one got the full satisfaction at the peak by seeing and having a wonderful eye full of Cologne from the Tower of Cologne Cathedral.
The soothing effect of the cool air oozing out of the Cathedral fountain served as a balm on our overstretched nerves and tissues.
For about 20 minutes, sitting beside the fountain, I made mental calculation of the amount of money spent by over 2000 tourists in a day at Cologne.
I imagined how many jobs had been created by keeping the cathedral in form and shape to attract tourists. I visualised the import of Cologne Cathedral alone to the economy of Europe and I commended the vision of those who manage the Cathedral as a World Heritage Site and grateful for Fajemila who insisted that I must visit and write about the most visited Cathedral in Europe, Cologne Cathedral of wonderful architecture.