As noted in my last post, Cologne was pretty much destroyed in World War Two, leaving the cathedral as more or less the only significant old landmark in the city. So we ended up spending quite a lot of time in and around it - first attempting a visit on Friday, when it was mostly shut for Mass (who goes to Mass on Friday evening?), then looking around on Saturday before having to go back to the hotel to watch qualifying with the intent of visiting the crypt on Sunday, except it was closed again until 1 pm, so we just took some photos since there was a blue sky for a change.
I wasn't blown away, to be honest. The outside is quite impressive, but also quite dark, and the inside is even darker. All the windows are modern (in fact the whole thing was only finished in the 19th century, after being half-completed for some 400 years), with most of them bright and attractive, but a pastiche of medieval style. It's also too crowded - according to Wikipedia, it's the most visited tourist site in Germany, attracting an incredible 20,000 visitors per day. There were certainly enough people milling about in early April, so I'd hate to be there in the middle of August.
|Hey, looks like that guy's drinking Starbucks coffee. Let's shame him!|
|Now that's a cool stained-glass window. Apparently the Archbishop didn't attend the unveiling, because he would have preferred a depiction of 20th-century Catholic martyrs. This is proof that archbishops have no taste.|
|The best fresco ever|
|That time a small Peruvian woman dressed up as King Solomon|
|A touching memorial to traumatised choirboys everywhere|
|It was like this, but better|
|And here we have Gregory the Great as Sad Cartman. Standing over the corpse of the Spirit of Jazz from the Mighty Boosh?|
|Two enthusiastic thumbs up from me|
|Finally some nice weather|
|A park and the TV tower. Weirdly reminds me of the Japanese gardens in Monaco|
That said, overall it was a good museum. The stand-out is definitely the large, detailed and amazingly intact Dionysus mosaic, around which the museum was actually built (it being easier to do that than to try to move it). One thing I liked was that there's a huge picture window in the side of the museum, allowing people in the square by the cathedral above to look down at the museum without coming in. Maybe that's just clever advertising, but it seemed like a generous and inclusive gesture. I would say, though, that it is actually worth shelling out to see the mosaic in more detail. The figurative scenes are really lovely and the patterns are impressively complex. It reminded me of being forced to tessalate things in maths class - one of those activities which you think could never be of any possible use to anyone, and since I'm not likely to be called on to create a mosaic anytime soon, probably won't be. Still, amazing to think the planning and skill that must have gone into it, all the way on the fringes of the Empire.
|Aww, these little fishies look so happy|
|Now I'm annoyed I didn't crop off the grey bit at the top, but can't be bothered correcting it|
|The Dionysus mosaic|
|There were several depictions of birds pulling mini sledges or performing other tasks|