Cologne

October 19, 2022

Melissa and I concluded our evening last night with an elegant dinner and music at Namedy Castle.  After a short ride by bus, we were greeted by Princess Myra Hohenzollern and ushed into the entry hall.  While the princess gave a short talk, we were entertained by her pug who moved from guest to guest looking for affection.  After the death of her husband the castle had been opened as a meeting place, catering to weddings, formal dances, and cultural events.  The three course meal was served by her personal servants, and then we were escorted upstairs to tour several of the castles’ open rooms.  Then we adjourned to the parlor for desert and to the music room to enjoy a recital by a concert pianist (Melissa’s dream).  With no pace for us to sit, Melissa and I gravitated back to the parlor to enjoy the music.  We were found by one of our tour hosts who informed us everyone else was waiting on the bus.  Princess Myra suggested if we did not hurry, we would have to stay the night.  We would have taken her up on this, but I do not believe she meant it.

During the night the ship cast off for Cologne, our last stop in Germany.  Cologne is the largest city on the German western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the fourth-most populous city of Germany with 1.1 million inhabitants.  Cologne was founded and established in Germanic Ubii (a tribe) territory in the 1st century CE as the Roman Colonia Agrippina, hence its name.  Agrippina was later dropped (except in Latin), and Colonia became the popular name of the city, which developed into modern German as Köln.  Cologne, the French version of the city’s name, has become standard in English.  Cologne functioned as the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior and as the headquarters of the Roman military in the region until occupied by the Franks in 462.  During the Middle Ages the city flourished as being located on one of the most important major trade routes between east and western Europe.  Cologne was a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire and one of the major members of the trade union Hanseatic League, a medieval commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Central and Northern Europe.

Prior to World War II, the city had undergone occupations by the French (1794–1815), became part of Prussia in 1815, and was occupied by the British from 1918–1926.  Cologne was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during World War II.  The bombing reduced the population by 93% (evacuation) and destroyed almost the entire millennia-old city center.  Post-war rebuilding has resulted in a mixed cityscape, restoring only major historic landmarks (city gates and churches).  The city’s medieval Catholic Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) was constructed to house the Shrine of the Three Kings (the bones of the three Magi who visited Jesus).  These relics had been “acquired” by Cologne’s archbishop, Rainald of Dassel, and given to the cathedral in 1164.  A single finger was returned to Milan as an appeasement (a wag in the group asked which finger).  The two spires of the cathedral were spared by the heavy Allied bombing since they served as landmarks to guide their planes.  The cathedral is now under restoration to remove the smog and pollution that has stained the exterior stone.  This is expected to take the next 200 years, then it will begin again.

THOUGHTS:  Cologne gained its independence from the archbishops in 1288 and became a Free City.  In response, the city magistrates constructed a city hall which was the tallest building in the city to indicate their independence over the church.  Later, the local citizenry added a waterspout on the building facing the city hall in the shape of a man’s posterior (rear end) to indicate their attitude toward the city leaders.  The magistrates in turn carved a face below the city clock tower that stuck out its tongue on the hour toward the waterspout.  It seems not appreciating the direction of who is in charge is a universal response.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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