Saturday, 9 January 2016

Cologne - feet on the ground

We arrived in Cologne from Brussels on Dec 23rd.  The main railway station opens on to a square beside the Cathedral (the "Dom") so it's the first thing most people see on leaving the station.  And what a magnificent sight it is!  The Dom is the 3rd highest and also the 3rd largest church in the world.  Work began in 1248 and continued, on and off, for hundreds of years.  It was completed in 1880 to the original plans.  As we had arrived well before official "check-in" time we left our bags at reception and set off the re-acquaint ourselves with this interesting city which we had visited 3 years earlier.  First stop was the Dom.

From the Dom we walked through the Dom Markets which had not yet opened.
The stage in the markets beside the Dom.
(more of them later)
Only a couple of hundred meters further on is another Christmas Market.  It too was not yet open so it was still free of the crowds which would throng there in the afternoon and evening.

Some of the decorative structures placed around the market.

A wooden nativity scene.

Skating rink within the market area.

Carousel and skating amusements
From the markets we made our way past centuries old buildings (or their post-war restorations) to the banks of the River Rhine.

Small hotels, inns and restaurants front the linear park which runs along the river banks. 
There are several bridges across the Rhine within the central part of Cologne.  We crossed over the Deutzer Bridge to the eastern bank and walked northward towards the Iron Bridge.

Looking across the River Rhine towards Cologne's "Alt Stadt"  (old city) from the Deutzer Bridge
There are now many bridges with a reputation as places where lovers declare their eternal love for each other by attaching locks to the bridge railings. The Iron Bridge is one such place where thousands of locks have been attached to the the grills and railings, and even high up on the bridge structures.  It may have once looked attractive but now some of these attachments look very shabby, especially as locks spill from chains and bicycle clamps etc.  I doubt that the extra weight is a problem on this bridge which has 6 railway lines running across it, but the railings of a footbridge in Paris had to be removed last year as the weight of tons of metal locks was threatening the safety of the bridge.

Locks on the Hohenzollern (Iron) Bridge

About a hundred meters from the Iron Bridge stands the fairly recent Köln Triangle building with its "Panorama Deck" some 100m high which offers wonderful 360 degree views for kilometers across Cologne and its surrounds.

Looking cross the Rhine to the Cathedral (Dom) and the Old Town centre
 Cologne has 12 "Romanesque" churches.  They are in the style which preceded the more familiar "Gothic" style we usually associate with European Cathedral of the Middle Ages.  St Kunibert Basilica was mainly build between 1210 and 1247 but there were later extensions.  It stands on the site of a an earlier church from about 600AD.

Now it's time for some images of Cologne at night and Christmas Market activities......

Our apartment was called "Domblick" (View of the cathedral) and that
was no exaggeration.  Here's the view from our bedroom window.

From another window we see the entrance to the "Alt Markt"
(Old Market) Christmas Market. Crowds are just arriving.
A "crowd sized" barbecue for grilled sausage and other meats.

The stage at the Dom Market beside the Cathedral

The "Tro Jazz" big band was really swinging with their performance of carols and seasonal songs.

Paul & Judy
January, 2016

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