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I never weary of great churches. They are my favourite kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it created a great cathedral.    – so said Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894

On reflection, there must have been inspiration aplenty surrounding the building of the gorgeous Cologne Dom.

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One of the enjoyable things about our recent Viking holiday was the informative sightseeing walks. We would usually explore a little of each day’s new territory on foot learning about the culture and history as we went.

There were always cities, villages, castles or other historical landmarks to acquaint ourselves with ……..and walking actually seemed to allow us more time to really get to know an area as we burnt off some of those extra kilojoules we’d been consuming (mind you this was probably deemed more important by those of us with the weakest willpower; unfortunately that would have to include me I’m afraid!)

Stained Glass-Cologne Cathedra

Stained Glass-Cologne Cathedra

Well for today’s walk we’d soon be visiting the enormous Cologne Cathedral. We would then view and discuss the surrounding old-town areas of the Cologne city centre, with its cobble-stoned streets and its many centuries of German and early Roman history.

Interior of Cologne Cathedral

Interior of Cologne Cathedral

Cologne is currently Germany’s 4th largest city. Built right on the banks of the Rhine, it is said to have been established by the Romans back in the 1st Centrury A.D.

Tragically, it suffered major damage during World War II. This necessitated a painstaking and costly rebuild in the post war era. The Cologne Cathedral or DOM took many hits from bombers during the war years. However, it actually remained standing despite much of Cologne being flattened around it.

Small Side Altar Cologne Cathedra

Small Side Altar Cologne Cathedra

Today, Cologne DOM is ranked up there as one of the tallest gothic cathedrals in the world. It is graced with much elaborate detail and quality craftsmanship. You really have to stop to contemplate how difficult it must have been to build a structure such as this…and especially way back then. Without access to any modern day technology it would have been an enormous challenge for the early artisans. Today it is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can actually choose to go right on up to the top of the structure if you wish. You need considerable perseverance though, as I believe there are some 500 steps to be negotiated in all.

Earlier that morning, and prior to our scheduled daily walk, dearly beloved  (D.B.) and I had actually contemplated this climb (rather enthusiastically I recall at the time). Unfortunately we’d then run out of puff……. After the informative morning walk, we’d decided to head right on back to the Longship for one of those delicious Viking lunches. Sadly, I have to report that by the mid afternoon we’d totally lost our earlier resolve. However…. I believe others did manage to climb to the very top. Those that did were justly rewarded for their efforts with the most splendid views out over the city and river.

My D.B. was quite taken with some of the DOM’s early building history. I noted he was showing greater than usual levels of interest….actually paying attention – especially in relation to the fact that the cathedral build was said to have been finally completed by a team of Prussians in around the mid 19th century.

Well…… being of (possible) Prussian heritage himself, D. B. truly enjoyed this minor detail (even today he continues to put much more emphasis on it than one would expect).  He still holds his head rather high as he states with considerable (possibly) Prussian pride “well you know it was actually my mob that finally got this whole job finished!”

Afterall, the cathedral had been “under construction” for a total of some 650 or so years in all. I guess that does seem like a mighty long time to be building anything. It is truly an amazing structure with unbelievable architectural detail. As is often said….. they just don’t build them like this anymore!

And we certainly don’t have any of them in Australia…AKA God’s own Country! (Now explain that!)

Later the same afternoon (with free time to explore Cologne on our own), we’d headed back into town. By now, we were feeling somewhat weary after having walked in the morning and eaten yet another delicious Viking lunch back onboard the ship (soup, salad, savoury dish and sweets).

Spring Pansies Cologne

Spring Pansies Cologne

For the rest of the afternoon we simply opted for a relatively relaxing way to see a little more of this lovely German city. We boarded one of those rather charming, but I must also say….. rather extremely bumpy, little sightseeing trains. This allowed us to explore a little further out from the main cobble-stoned old-town areas which we’d meandered through earlier in the day.

Then it was back to our longship for cocktails and another lovely dinner before sailing away.

Sightseeing Train Cologne

Sightseeing Train Cologne

Old Town Centre Cologne

Old Town Centre Cologne

Lovers locks on the Bridge Cologne

Lovers locks on the Bridge Cologne

Kaiser Friedrich III Equestrian Statue Cologne

Kaiser Friedrich III Equestrian Statue Cologne

Cherry Blossoms Cologne

Cherry Blossoms Cologne

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