We arrived in Cologne, Germany in the morning on day 6 of our Viking River Cruise of the Rhine. Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany and one of the oldest in the country with a history dating as far back as the first century AD when the Romans founded the city naming it Colonia. Our included excursion for this port was a walking tour of the old city which we began soon after our arrival.
Our guide immediately told us over 90% of the Old Town was destroyed by Allied bombing during WWII. We were impressed with the results of reconstruction efforts.
Next to the river, what appeared at first glance to be a clockface turned out to be a depth gauge showing the water level of the river. As you can see below, the depth was under 2 meters which is why we suspected our ship scraped bottom a few times and the ship’s captain expressed concern about the next cruise.
I’ve seen love locks on bridges in other cities including Venice, Italy but the 2 tons of locks on the Hohenzollern Bridge was definitely impressive. The city considered removing them and not allowing this show of commitment but the outcry caused them to reconsider and the tradition continues.
Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was constructed beginning in 1248 but wasn’t finally completed until 1880. It was the world’s tallest building until 1884 when the Washington Monument displaced it. Today it is still visible from most of the city and I took numerous photographs of both the impressive facade and the interior.
Below are just a couple of the over 125 gargoyles decorating the exterior of the cathedral.
The cathedral houses the relics of the three Magi, the wise men who brought gifts to the Christ child. Between the late 1100’s and early 1200’s, goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun created The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings which holds the relics.
Next door to the Cathedral, we peered in the windows of the Roman-Germanic Museum, built in 1974 over a Roman Villa. The mosaic below depicting the story of Dionysus was discovered when a bomb shelter was built during WWII. Sadly, we didn’t have time to tour the museum.
As our tour moved on, our guide told us about Italian-born perfumier, Giovanni Maria Farina, who created eau de cologne in 1709 and named it for his adopted home. The fragrance featured scents of orange, lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, jasmine, violet, and sandalwood. In a letter to his brother, he wrote, “I have discovered a scent that reminds me of a spring morning in Italy, of mountain narcissus, orange blossom just after the rain. It gives me great refreshment, strengthens my senses and imagination.” You can still purchase the original scent at the perfumery.
Kölsch style ale was also created in Cologne, a hybrid of ale and lager brewing methods, served in a stange glass.
Following our walking tour, we made our way back to the ship for lunch prior to our afternoon excursion to the Brühl Palaces.
Based on events in November 2017.