Köln, August 18, 1909

When we awoke this morning, things looked rather dreary, raining and sky cloudy. But we ventured out and got as far as the Rathaus. This fine old building stands on the substractions of a Roma stronghold, probably the Praetorium of the arches of which some remains are still visible in the cellar.

Cologne at the Rhine.
Town Hall.

The central portion is the oldest part of the building and dates from the 14th century. A very pretty portico was built in front of this in 1569, and I am mightily glad that they thought of building this for it afforded us shelter from the pouring rain.

There is a very handsome five storied tower adorned with many statues. It was built in 1406 from the proceeds of the fines imposed upon noble families of the city. The interior has a court called the Lowenhof, so named in reference to the tradition that an archbishop sought the life of Burgomaster Gryn in 1264 and threw the obnoxious citizen into a lion’s den in his palace, but Gryn “Did the lion” and, grinning, came out of the den. They show the combat in stone over the portico and also in the court, so the story must be true.

We were shown the Muschel Saal, which served as a reception room and is adorned with very fine tapestry. The Hansa Saal is said to be the room in which the first general meeting of the Hansa League took place on the 19th of November 1367. It is now used for meeting of the municipal council.

On the south wall are nine large figures in stone representing Heathen. In the Propheten Kammer, which is now fitted up as a library, we saw the Municipal Silver Plate consisting of magnificent table ornaments made in Cologne.

The former Rats Saal is in the tower and has a fine carved door made in 1603, also a nice stucco ceiling ornamented with medallions of emperors. Next to the Gürzenich, which was built in 1441 to serve as a dance and banquet hall for the town council when they wished to entertain distinguished guests. It fell into decay and was used as a magazine until some 50 years ago, when it was restored to its original uses.

[The Gürzenich is a festival hall.]

A handsome staircase leads to the Fest Saal, which is 75 feet wide and 175 feet long. The modern stained glass windows have armorial bearings of Juloch, Cleve and other neighboring cities, allies of Cologne, also those of burgomasters and guilds. Two immense Mantle pieces are richly carved with scenes from the history of the town. The walls are adorned with a fine representation of the Procession on the completion of the Cathedral in 1880. They use this hall now for concerts and balls.

Large Gürzenich Hall.

We continued in the rain, but every once in a while our good old cabby would come down from his seat to the window of the cab and call our attention to some object of interest.

In this manner we saw the house in which Rubens is erroneously said to have been born, but Baedecker knows better. However, Marie de Medicis, widow of Henry IV of France, died here in exile, and so we will let it pass at that. The old church of St. Peters, which we passed next, contains the tomb of Jan Rubens, the father of the painter. We did not “Stop off.” Cabbie next called our attention to the monument of Empress Augusta and explained that the artist forgot part of the bridle and that only an old cabbie like he could call our attention to such an important fact.

At the Hahnen Tor, a massive town gate of the 13th century, we stopped to see the Historical Museum of objects and mementoes from the time when Cologne was a free imperial city up to the end of the 18th century, such as plans of the city views, banners, arms, etc. But we had to hurry on in order to get to the Museum of Industrial Art where we saw some fine gothic stained glass windows of the 14th and 15th century and some glass ware made in Cologne and Basel in 1500.

Cologne am Rhine.
Hahnen Gate.
[One of twelve castle gates in the eight-kilometer medieval city ​​wall of Cologne (1180-1220), which secured western access to the city.]

On the next floor, we hurried through rooms fitted up with old furniture from Holland, France, Italy, Germany, old Sevres porcelain, oriental and chines metal work, etc.

The most impressive part of this building, however, is the modern Pallenberg Salon, fitted up in grand style from designs by M. Lechter, a former glass painter. The ceiling and wall are carved oak and there are two most wonderful modern art glass windows.

In the afternoon, I ran around the corner to take a look into the interior of the St. Andreas Church, which has a fine Romanesque nave built in 1220 and a very pretty altar of carved wood. The church of the Minorites has a fine large window above the portal, which I could not see very well, but in front of the church is a handsome bronze monument to Adolf Kolpin, founder of the working men’s clubs, showing the old priest shaking hands with a mechanic and with the inscription “Der Gesellen Vater.”

A very interesting fountain is the Heinzelmännchen fountain. It refers to the fairy tale wherein it is told that the little sprites would do the work for a tailor overnight and how his wife, being very inquisitive, threw peas all over the floor. When the Heinzelmännchen came to do the work, they slipped on the peas and tumbled all over themselves, whereupon the tailor’s wife rushed out with a lantern to see them. The woman is shown on the fountain with a lantern and the little sprites in bas relief, and it says something about an “Inquisitive woman” on the base.

Home and to bed.

[Editor’s note: I was unable to track down the “inquisitive woman” inscription. Darn.]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.