Photo Essay: The Cathedral of Cologne

In my very first semester of art history back in 2007 I took a class called “The Medieval Cathedral”… not only because I loved Gothic cathedrals ever since I saw one for the first time, but also because my professor had a field trip planned. He had some connections to the stonemasons’ workshop, which could offer us a behind the scenes tour.

Now, what is “behind the scenes” when it comes to a medieval cathedral? My art historian’s dream come true: The roof! The passages above the vaults! The restoration workshop! The triforium! Everything you might know is there, but you never get the chance to actually see as a usual visitor of the church…

We took the masonry’s elevator up to the roof and walked around it – fifty meter above the ground! From below you wouldn’t even know that there is a small passage on which you can circle the whole cathedral in that height. Standing up there with shaking knees – partly because of the icy wind up there, partly because the tiny masonry walkways didn’t even have a hand rail to hold on to – makes you realize what an amazing building the cathedral really is…

It feels overwhelming, beautiful and majestic when you enter through the main portal – but when you’re on the roof you suddenly know how unbelievable this building must have been in the middle ages! Builders bringing the stones up to this height without elevators or any kind of security system… It still feels unreal 800 years later!

I hope this picture captures at least a little how I felt up there – surrounded by filigree pinnacles, overlooking the city of Cologne… I was just completely awe-struck!