Stepping from the train station in Cologne (Köln) is a breathtaking experience. We walked out just below the largest cathedral I’ve ever seen. It was so large I took a video. I couldn’t take a photo that would capture the entire building. It’s genuinely awe-inspiring.
We checked in to our hotel and then grabbed a quick snack at a Bavarian style restaurant. We were *thrilled* to learn our hotel had air conditioning in the rooms! I definitely miss that luxury.
Once we’d filled our bellies a bit, it was time to explore the cathedral. Previously, a 4th century, and later a 6th century, church stood here. The foundation for this building was laid in 1248, but then it took 600 years to complete the rest of it. The existing building was damaged in World War II, but did not collapse. It has been under constant maintenance since the 1950s. Given the many intricate details in the facade, it’s not hard to understand why. The towers at the front are 515 feet tall – the tallest in Germany. They’re tall enough that the scaffolding attached to them doesn’t even come all the way down to the ground.
The cathedral is supposed to attract about 20,000 visitors every day. That’s 6 million people per year! There were hundreds there at the same time we were. Only a few joined the service taking place, though. Listening to the singing during the service was delightful. The Gothic arches lead to incredible acoustics! And the stained glass windows make everything inside glow with beautiful colors.
All around the exterior of the cathedral, there were street artists creating amazing pictures with chalk. This one was my favorite because of a book club party the kids and I attended earlier this year in Austin.
As we left, the kids walked down a reconstructed Roman road toward the river, the park, and dinner. The stones are original, but the road itself has been remade.
We walked down to the Rhine River to watch some of the boats cruising. From there, we walked toward our hotel and found some outdoor seating for a nice dinner. We retired to our rooms (and air conditioning!) for the night. The next day, we were up for a quick breakfast and then off to Nuremberg and Erlangen.