Kongo departed Amsterdam yesterday to sail through the connecting canal to the Rhine River. The canal rises above the level of the surrounding land and it is interesting to look down upon the adjacent farms and villages.
Shortly before entering the Rhine River and Germany the ship passes through the first of several locks on this journey. Above, the captain controls the ship thrusters to precisely position the vessel safely in the lock before the gates are closed behind it and the upstream gates are lifted to raise the water level.
After an overnight sail through Germany, the magnificent Rhine Cathedral comes into view as the ship approaches the inner city of Cologne. Cologne was founded in the first century by Romans and grew into an important religious and trade center. In World War II the city was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing. The famous cathedral was not a target but as it sat near the strategic rail station, it suffered significant damage from stray bombs. The picture below depicts the level of destruction in Cologne in 1945.
The city has been rebuilt and the cathedral, which was completed almost 600 years after construction first began, was restored.
The intricate outside facade and flying buttresses are spectacular. Kongo rarely sees a flying buttress he doesn’t like but these are really over the top. The buttresses were necessary to bear the weight of the walls. The inside of the cathedral is equally awe inspiring.
The cathedral was built to house the relics of the Three Kings who visited Jesus after his birth. The cathedral became a pilgrim destination spot that brought great wealth to Cologne. It is one of the most visited sites in Germany and is considered an epic example of Gothic architecture. Before the Eiffel Tower, the Cologne Cathedral was the tallest structure in the world.
Since Cologne was completely destroyed in World War II, almost all of the structures surrounding the cathedral and the old city center are relatively new. Above is an example of the new architecture built in the latter half of the 20th century. The picture is of a modern art museum, the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art.
Of course no trip to Cologne would be complete without bringing a little bit of it back home with you. The original Eau de Cologne (water of Cologne) was first developed in the early 1700s. At the time it was introduced the fragrance was enormously expensive, costing about half the annual salary of a civil servant. It was really only for the wealthy and royalty. Thanks to modern processing, even a monkey can now smell good!
Travel safe. Have fun!