Sample Sections

Christian
travel guides

Christianity
and history
Christianity
and culture
Devotional
readings
Slide shows About the
authors
Art and
architecture
Reviews of the books Christian tours
Travel tips and services: where to find translators, hotels, bed and breakfasts, retreat houses, travel agents, train timetables, what to do with kids, etc. - text only. Christian travel - vacations with a purpose.
Köln *Cologne* sample texts from:
The Christian Travelers Guide to Germany

By Irving Hexham and Lothar Köpe
Visit Köln/Cologne
site of the
2005 World Youth Day

Erzbistum *Bishopric* Köln *Cologne*; Nordrhein Westfalen

Local websites:
http://www.koeln.org/koelntourismus/english/plain/homepage.html

Tourist office:
Email: koelntourismus@koeln.org
+         Unter Fettenhennen 19, D-50667 ( 0221-3345 7 0221-3320);

Pop. 992,000 alt. 36 m;
69 E Aachen; 28 N Bonn; 68 SE Essen


Find out about the World Youth Day 2005

 
 
       
       
       
       
       
Introduction
Köln is one of the great historic cities of Germany. Founded in 38 BC, as the Roman administrative center for their German conquests, it was called Oppidum Ubiorum. The name was changed to Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinsium in 50 AD. The city was elevated to the status of a Roman Colony, giving the population special privileges, to honor the fact that is was the birthplace of Agrippina the third wife of the Emperor Claudius. He is known to most people by the popular T.V. series I Claudius based on the novels of Robert Greaves, while Agrippina is remembered as the mother of the infamous Nero.

For the next five hundred years the city, which was heavily fortified, flourished, and became a center for Christian mission and archbishopric. The legend of St. Ursula, a 2nd C Christian princess, and her 11,000 virgin companions, who were martyred in Köln made the city a pilgrimage center and numerous churches were built to commemorate the martyrs.

After a period of decline brought about by barbarian invasions, Köln's fortunes revived in the 8th C when Charlemagne, known in Germany as Charles the Great, made his court chaplain Hildebord the Archbishop in 795. During the next few centuries 150 Romanesque churches were built often replacing older structures on alleged sites of martyr's tombs. New defensive walls were built in 1180. These walls protected the city until they were torn down in a frenzy of modernization in 1881. Subsequently, the city became one of the richest in Europe and with Lübeck formed the Hanseatic League in 1250 to unite merchant cities for mutual defense and the promotion of trade.

Köln became a free Imperial City in 1475. During the Reformation the citizens, who had a long history of disputes with the Archbishop, surprisingly supported the Roman Catholic cause. Luther's works were publicly burnt in front of the Cathedral in 1570 by members of the University's Theology Faculty.

In 1794 the French stormed the city starting a long association between the Rhineland and France. The arrival of French Revolutionary forces led to a liberalization of the city's religious policies. Thus, Jews and Protestants were allowed to settle in Köln for the first time. Following Napoleon's defeat in 1814, Köln became part of Prussia.

World War II saw the total devastion of Köln by British night bombers with 90% of the buildings being destroyed. In 1945, Konrad Adenauer [1876-1967], the first German Federal Chancellor [1949-1961], and Roman Catholic mayor of Köln form 1917-1933, when he was dismissed by the Nazis for opposing their policies, became mayor and began the rebirth of the city.

Köln is the birthplace of the modern German writer and novelist Heinrich Böll [1917-1985] and the setting for many of his stories. In The Train was on Time [1949; translated 1956] he provides a penetrating analysis of Nazi Germany while many of his other stories deal with German guilt and the trauma of war. Places to see:
 
 
 
 
 
 
    >> Köln Dom *Köln Cathedral*, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Mary, was for centuries the tallest building in Europe. Construction began in 1248 and continued to 1559 when it abruptly stopped. Then, by popular demand, it was begun again and completed between 1824 and 1880. Amazingly the 19th C builders followed the original 13th C plans to complete one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. Built in Gothic style the twin towered Dom was modeled on the cathedrals or Amiens, Paris, and Rheims.The Dom was built to house the RELICS of the MAGI which are housed in the Dreikönigenschrein, SHRINE of the Three Kings, an elaborate RELIQUARY behind the high altar. This shrine was designed by the famous medieval goldsmith, Nicolas of Verdun [1181-1205], who began work on it in 1181. It has elaborate gold sculptures of the prophets and apostles, and scenes from the life of Christ. Work was completed in 1220 and immediately became a major pilgrimage site. Indeed the AMBULATORY, or walkway behind the high altar, was extra wide to accommodate the vast crowds which used to flock to the shrine for healing and spiritual nourishment.Stained glass windows, in the N aisle [1507-1508], depict the lives of the Dom's patron saints. The windows in the S aisle are were made in 1848. The choir windows [1315-1330] tell the story of the adoration of the Magi and were intended to show that even earthly rulers bow to Christ. In the S transept is a stone Madonna [1420]. In the N transept stands a statue of St. Urssula and her followers [early 16th C] and a statue of St. Christopher by Tilman van der Burch [1470]. The high altar was the gift of Archbishop Wilhelm von Gennep [1348-1362]. On the N side of the altar is simply carved a 9th C crucifix, the Cross of Gero.The Marienkapelle *Mary Chapel* contains a modern altar by Willy Weyres [1956] and Stefan Lochner's [1410-1451] magnificent Adoration of the Magi altarpiece. [1440]. Lochner was the greatest of the late medieval Köln school of painters. Other chapels which make up the Dom complex contain the graves of various notables. For example Archbishop Philipp von Heinsberg’s [d. 1191] grave is to be found in the St. Maternus chapel. As the sculptures on his tomb suggest he ordered the construction of Köln's medieval walls. Queen Richeza of Poland [d. 1059] is buried in the St. Johannes chapel alongside the Dom's founder Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden [d. 1261]. His tomb, however, wasn't constructed until 1320. Notice the 13th C All Saints window and 14th C carvings on its walls. In the Chapel of the Magi, which originally housed the relics, there is another 13th C window and a plaque near the entrance which marks the resting place of Maria de Medici's heart.
   
   
    >> Schatzkammer *Cathedral Treasury* contains a wonderful Byzantine cross, 13th C, a staff which is supposed to have belonged to St. Peter and was the object of medieval devotion. Two carvings by Lochnar the prominent Madonna of the Violets and less conspicuous Nativity should not be missed. Also look out for the 6th C Syrian silk illustrating a hunt and another Byzantine woven cloth showing lions.
    >> Jesuitenkirsch St Mariae Himmelfahrt *the Jesuit Church of the Ascension of Mary*, Marzellenstraße, designed by Christoph Wamser in 1618, it is Köln's only imposing Baroque church, and quit unusual for the Rhineland in its ornate interior decoration which is a dramatic contrast to the simplicity of the Romaneque. Badly damaged in the war it was restored in 1956.
    >> Minoritenkirche Mariae Empfängnis the *Minority Church of Mary's Conception* was originally a university church for foreign students and faculty. If you were ever called a "dunce" in school this is the place to visit because it is the last resting place of the great medieval Franciscan Scottish theologian Duns Scotus [1264-1308]. His work attempted combined Augustinian and Aristotelian philosophy to emphasize the primacy of love over reason. A forerunner of the Reformation he was ridiculed, hence the word "dunce," by later Catholic theologians.
    >>        Köln's Twelve Apostles, this is the name we have given to the twelve ROMANESQUE Churches which survived World War II. And even then many of these churches have been painstakingly reconstructed using original materials. The churches are:

1. >>    St Andreas
, Komdienstraße, a 10th C structure containing the shrine of one of the leading medieval philosophers St. Albert the Great [1200-1280], who was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas [1224-1274]. This tomb reminds us of the major role Köln played in European intellectual history as a center of Christian and Catholic thought. Through the work of Albert the newly recovered philosophy of ARISTOTLE [384-322 BC], which was being used by Muslim apologists in Spain to attack Christianity, was reinterpreted in a Christian manner. Although not all Christians agree with the apologetics his pupil Thomas Aquinas produced all acknowledge that both men were two of the greatest thinkers of Christian history.

2 >>     St. Aposteln, Neumarkt, is important as an example of pure Rhineland Romanesque, its construction began in 1030. The church was restored after the war as a concert hall with an attached prayer chapel. It contains 13th C statues of Christ and a 19th C painting of the Archangel Michael by Friedrich Overbeck [1869-1909]. This church is worth seeing because its present fate reminds the visitor that in Germany even functioning churches often double as concert halls and are rarely full except when there is a concert.

3. >>    St. Cäcilien, Cäcilienstraße, is today the Schnütgen Museum which houses a fine collection of sacred art from the 6th C to the 19th C. If churches are to be turned into museums this is certainly one of the better options. Originally a college for women founded in 881 it became a college church in the 10th C and today houses some remarkable examples of Christian art including a collecton of medieval ivory carvings. Much of the art was made by craftsmen in Byzantium.

4. >>    Groß St Martin
, Am Fischmarkt, once dominated the Köln skyline with its splendid towers. A former monastery it was built between 1185-1220, opposite the old Roman port of Köln on an island which is now part of the city.

5. >>    St Georg
, Georgesstraße, a 11th C church with 16 feet deep defensive walls on the W side is built over the ruin of an earlier Roman church. It was built between 1059-1067. The Gabelkreuz *V-shaped Cross* was a creation of Christian mysticism around 1380 reminding us that THOMAS Á KEMPIS [1380-1471], the author of the influential Imitation of Christ, was born in the outskirts of Köln and influenced by Rhineland mysticism before becoming a monk in the Netherlands.

6. >>    St Gereon
, Gereon/Christopherstraße, has a unique elliptical design and houses the remains of St Gereon and numerous martyrs from the Christian Therbian Legion of the Roman army who were slaughtered en mass for refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods. On the floor of the crypt are 11th C mosaics. The church also contains some 13th C frescoes and a 17th BAS RELIEF of the Last Supper and was built between 1219-1227.

7. >>    St. Kunibet
, Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer, once the last church along the river before travelers left Köln, survived the war remarkably well. It has a life size group of statues of the Annunciation [1439] and some fascinating murals of the Virgin Mary. Construction on this church began a year before the Dom was built in 1247.

8. >>    St Maria im Kapitol
, Pipinstraße/Lichhof, built on the site of a Roman temple to the gods Jupier, Juno and Minerva. In the 8th C a nunnery was founded by the grandmother of Charlemagne, construction began in 1065. It is another fortress-like church, which once faced the river. Very badly damaged in the war the church is a remarkable example of dedicated restoration work. The carved wooden doors are of 12th C origin and illustrate the live of Jesus.

9. >>    St. Maria Lyskirchen
, Am Leystapel, a three ailed church, overlooking Köln's Rhine port, which was built around 1250, came through the war virtually intact. It contains some excellent 13th C frescoes depicting Biblical scenes.

10 >>   St Pantaleon
, Mittelstraße, originally a 7th C Benedictine monastery, it is a 10th C church containing the remains of Archishop Bruno. It has an interesting rood-skreen and 16th C stained glass windows.

11. >>  St. Severin
, Severinkirchplatzt, this is the oldest surviving Romanesque church in Köln, 1230-1237, its crypt dates to 1043, and is built over the site of a 4th C Christian cemetery and earlier church from the Roman city. It has a fine Gothic nave. In the church is a painting of St. Severinus [d. 482] whose tomb is in the crypt. There is an elaborate 19th C reliquarly behind the high altar.

12. >> St Ursula, Ursalaplatz, built around 1287 to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Ursula who, according to legend, was an English princess martyred with 11,000 virgins. It is also on the site of a 4th C Roman Christian cemetery and earlier church constructed by a Roman believer, Clemantius, who built his church over the saint's tomb. The church contains the reliquary of St Ursula, St. Etherius [c. 1170] and at least another 120 small reliquaries reminding the visitor of the power of relics in Christian devotion from the 2nd to at least the 16th C.
   
THOMAS Á KEMPIS [1380-1471]: medieval German Christian writer whose real name was Thomas Hamerken, i.e. the hammer, from the small town of Kempen close to Köln. He was educated by the Brethren of the Common life before entering the monastery of St Agnes near Zwolle in what is now the Netherlands. His book The Imitation of Christ is one of the great classics of Christian spirituality which continues to inspire many Christians to piety and devotion. It contains many unforgettable sayings such as “Without the Way, there is no going; without the Truth there is no knowing; without the Life there is no living” and “Vanity it is, to wish tolive long, and to be careless to live well.”  
 
    >> Römisch-Germanisches Museum, Roncalliplatz 4, anyone visiting a city where so many Christian churches are built over Roman temples or Christian Roman graveyards cannot help being curious about the Roman settlement of Köln. This excellent museum contains the Dionysos Mosaic, discovered in 1941, which is the finest surviving Roman mosaic in N Europe and dates from the 3rd C. Another feature is the tomb of a Roman settler, Lucius Poblicius, a veteran of the 5th Legion, who was buried around 45 AD. You should also take a close look at the philosopher's mosaic that depicts seven Greek philosophers.

>> Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst *Far Easter Art Museum*, Universitätstraße 100, houses an excellent collection of Chinese, Japanese and Korean art much of which is religious in nature. The building itself was designed by Kunio Mayekawa [1905-1986] and its Japanese garden by Masayuke Nagare [b. 1823]

.
>> The Buddhist Art collection is particularly good for anyone wanting to understand the ethos of a religion which increasingly appeals to Americans.
   
    >> Wallraf-Richartz Ludwig Museum is a cultural complex which also houses the Philharmonic Orchestra. In the Wallraf-Richartz museum on the first floor are paintings by great masters from the 14th C to 19th C. The medieval Köln School collection is particularly important. It contains early works by the Master of Veronica 1395-1415], including two very different Crucifictions and late works by Stefan Lochner including his Last Judgement and Madonna in a Rose Garden. Note also the works by the Master of the Glorification of the Virgin [1460-1490] and Master of St. Bartholomew [1440-1515].

Other prized works include Dürer's [1471-1528] Fifer and Drummer and and Lucas CRANACH the Elder's [1472-1553] Virgin and Child. Various Italian works and a great collection of Dutch and Flemish art, including Ruben's [1577-1640] The Holy Family and the Stigmata of St. Francis. There are also works by Frans Hals [1580-1666] and the well know Rembrant [1606-1669] Self Portrait where the artist is wearing a turban in his old age.
   
    >> On the second floor is the Museum Ludwig containing a fine collection of modern art. Here you will discover that the Dada School was born in Köln shortly before the First World War. The deliberate absurdity of Dada captures the ethos of the consciously dying civilization discussed in Hans Rookmaaker's Modern Art and the Death of a Culture [1965] and Hans Sedlmayer's Art in Crisis [1957].

Anyone wishing to understand the intellectual climate of the 20th C needs to visit this unique exhibition. Another exhibit not to be missed is the Russian Avant-Garde Art which contains pre-Stalinist art. Here you see the heroic nature of early Soviet Communism and begin to understand how this philosophy which caused so many deaths, could capture the hearts of so many people. A good video film to see after visiting this exhibition is the award winning French-Russian film Burnt by the Sun directed by Nikita Mikhalkow [1994].