Monday, 19 August 2013

Our day in Cologne

Zero and I enjoyed a very successful trip to Cologne last week. We arrived in the city at about 10.45 (their time). The main railway station is next door to the Cathedral, so we first paid our respects to the relics of the Magi. Thought this was not that easy, given the number of tourist visitors/tour groups in the Cathedral at the time. The area of the Cathedral before the "jewelled Madonna" had been set aside as an area for prayer, our visit occurring on the Solemnity of the Assumption.

There is a representation facing on to Roncalliplatz, next to the Cathedral, showing Pope John Paul II handing over to Pope Benedict XVI the logo for the 2005 World Youth Day, held in Cologne, soon after the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

After an early lunch, we then crossed the Rhine to visit the Koln Triangle. We went for the view, not for the experience of the innovative technologies. The views are very good, but the images on the website make features such as the Cathedral appear much larger than they appear in reality. An idea of the views from the panorama can be gained by watching the video at this page (but note that the construction work shown is now complete, with a nice modern building hidden behind the somewhat modernist facade). Our official visit photographs were taken here.

The address of the Koln Triangle is 1 Ottoplatz, and it is on the edge of the area of Cologne known as Deutz. The Otto involved was the engineer who, working in Deutz in the 1870's, invented the four stroke piston engine .... without which we would not have the engines in most of our cars.

We re-crossed the Rhine to visit the Cologne City Museum (sorry, no English language site). This portrays - in reverse - the history of the city of Cologne and, on the second floor, something of the different elements of the life and culture of Cologne. There is an English language audio-guide, though it does not cover all the displayed items. A display case showing the Catholic culture of the city includes as an exhibit a "pilgrims rucksack" from teh 2005 World Youth Day, as modelled by Zero in the photograph above. A very telling pair of photographs show the city at the end of the Second World War compared to after its re-building - some 80% of the city's buildings had been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by Allied bombing. At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church condemned actions "designed for the reasoned and methodical extermination of an entire race, nation, or ethnic minority" (Gaudium et Spes n.79), actions that Cologne experienced during the Second World War with the deportation of some 11 000 Jews to concentration camps.  Similarly condemned were those acts of war "directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants" (Gaudium et Spes n.80), again something experienced by the city of Cologne as a result of Allied bombing which killed 20 000 people during the course of the Second World War.

There was much more to see in the museum, which is a good visit if you want to gain some sense of the history and culture of the city of Cologne.

Our return to the airport from the main railway station was smooth enough for us. However, some of the inter-city trains were being shown with delays of up to two hours .... It would appear the cause of these problems might have been staff holidays at Mainz.

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