Friday, November 11, 2011

Cologne/ Köln

November 1st
Our night-train from Vienna arrived in Köln around 9 a.m.  The train station opens up right to the Cathedral.  According to wikipedia: Cologne Cathedral was built between 1248 and 1880. It is 144.5 metres (474 ft) long, 86.5 m (284 ft) wide and its towers are approximately 157 m (515 ft) tall.  The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second tallest spire and largest façade of any church in the world.

It was so tall I couldn’t get a picture of the entire cathedral, but here is an image showing the modern architecture of Köln next to the Gothic architecture of the cathedral.

Modern imitating Old
We also climbed up 533 steps to the top of one of the towers in the Cathedral.  And that was on our slightly sore legs from our hike with Sabina!

View inside tower
We hoped to do some research in Köln, as Darrell’s mother lived in a Jewish orphanage here from about the age of 10 until just before immigrating with her mother to the United States just before her 12th birthday in 1939.  Her father had owned three furniture stores, including one in Köln, prior to the Nazi regime, but then he immigrated to Milwaukee with Lenore's older brother before Lenore and her mother were able to leave.  She doesn’t have many memories of Köln, though she said she had been to the cathedral.  And she remembers Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, when all the Jewish-owned businesses and the synagogues were destroyed, November 12th, 1939.  Her view then was of Nazi boots from the ground where she had been thrown down.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to do as much research as we hoped because it was a holiday.  Another strike against us was that the archives, some of the best in Europe, had all been jumbled up when the building they were in collapsed into a subway tunnel.  They are working to get the archives back up, but they are not in business for now.

 So we toured the old part of the city, especially enjoying the waterfront.

Houses by the waterfront
After a picnic of our usual bread and cheese on a bench by the Rhine, we ended up at the Chocolate Museum, crowded with tourists even in November.
Chocolate fountain with view of Rhine in background

Chocolate robot trying to keep up with world demand!
We walked to the Jewish quarter where there was an active archaeologic dig.  They were also building a 7,000 m2 museum to house the results of the excavation including the oldest Jewish synagogue in Europe, including the ritual baths, plus the earlier Roman ruins it was built on.

Excavation of Jewish and Roman ruins
Just before catching our late-afternoon train to Brussels, we found a museum dedicated to understanding the National Socialism (Nazi) movement in Köln and honoring the Jews that suffered and died.  We didn't have time to see the museum, and their research library was closed due to the holiday, but we searched through some materials they had at the front desk to learn more about Köln during the war.  So, it wasn’t an entirely satisfying day in terms of research, but we were glad to see a little bit of where Darrell’s mother lived for some time…

1 comment:

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