Going Bananas in Cologne
The name Thomas Baumgartel may not be a household name, but his contribution to world art scene cannot be forgotten. He is affectionately known as “Banana Sprayer” in grafitti circles.
As you venture about Cologne, keep an eye out for Baumgartel’s handiwork. In 1987, he spraypainted a banana on the Museum Ludwig. Later that same night he was apprehended in a major sweep and spent the night in jail.
The banana tag is seen as a badge of honor, patrons could tell a museum was worth visiting if it had been deemed so by Baumgartel.
Want to learn more and see Baumgartel’s studio, click below…
Shrine of the Three Wisemen
Dreikönigsschrein, the Reliquary of the Three Kings is a tomb where they say that the remains of the Three Wise Men are enshrined. Set in a huge display case behind the main altar of the Cologne Cathedral, this is considered to be the largest shrine in the western world.
It took the world renowned goldsmith, Nicolau de Verdun spent half of a century building this masterpiece. The shrine was completed in 1225 and the remains of the Magi were laid to rest here.
This golden Reliquary of the Three Kings is made of wood, coated with gold, silver, enamel, and adorned with precious and semi-precious stones.
According to the legend, Queen Helena, mother of Constantine travelled to the Middle East to find the remains and bring them back to Cologne. The reliquary is comprised of three sarcophagi, two on the bottom and one on top.
More about the Three Wisemen can be found at this link…
Das Rathaus in Koln
The Cologne City Hall is one of the oldest Rathauses in Germany. Documents that mention the City Hall date back as far as the mid-12th century referring to a “House of the citizens”. In the 14th century, the current city hall was built on its foundation.
In the early 15th Century, a tower resembling a church steeple was added. The 5 story tower of the Rathaus is decorated with 124 figures of emperors, kings, popes, honorary citizens of Cologne and patron saints of the city. Due to a poor choice of building materials the figures deteriorated over several centuries and were restored several times.
When standing in the square, take a look back at the city hall tower. Watch the clock every hour when it chimes. When the clock strikes, the bearded head beneath it shows tongue and starts teasing passerbys.
As you’re looking at the carved figures, pay special attention to what they are standing on. You will see a number of monkeys, musicians and hidden under a larger statue of Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden, there is a man giving oral sex to himself. Dating back to 1410, the obscene carving was a popular motif in the Middle Ages. It literally represents showing one’s backside to the authorities. The carvers wanted to show that they don’t care about the morals or the public appearance of the authority figures.
Konrad von Hochstaden was the Archbishop of Cologne from 1238 – 1261. His position as one of the seven elector seats of the Holy Roman Empire made him quite powerful. Kings throughout Europe beseeched him for his approval before their coronation. In addition to laying the foundation stone for the Koln Cathedral, it’s also thought he used his authority to implement a tax on beer. Probably a very poor decison given the number of breweries in the city.
If you want more information or plan a visit The Rathaus follow this link.
The Elves Fountain
Near the Cathedral in Colgne is a charming fountain. The sculpted characters respresent the heroes of a German folksong. These “magic helpers” worked there magic at night when the citizens are fast asleep to help finish the households chores they has started earlier.
Even though the elves loved to be hard at work, they did not like being around humans. All went well until one evening the tailor’s wife decided she wanted to see the helpers. She scattered peas all over her floor in hopes that the little elves would slip on them and then she could rush in to see them for herself.
She heard a commotion and quickly lit her lantern and stomped her feet. The elves ran out of the house and were so offended that they left the city. The people of Cologne then had to finish all of there chores by themselves.
You can see the hardworking elves and the tailor’s wife with her lantern carved into the fountain.
Hahnentorburg (Hahnen Gate)
There are 12 gates through which you can enter the city of Cologne. Hahnentorburg is the most popular.
The gate features 2 semi-circular towers. In between you can see Cologne’s Coat of Arms. As was the case with much of Cologne, the gate was damaged during WWII and later rebuilt.
On the day I visited, there was a flea market going on with many vendors set up along the path to the Gate.
Locks of Love
There is an arched bridge that spans the Rhine River in Cologne. Hohenzollern Bridge has become a “Love Lock” bridge where couples lock a padlock onto the bridge and throw the key into the river to show their love and devotion.
Is Someone Watching Me?
In Gothic architecture, a gargoyle is a carved figure with spout to move water away from the building and prevent damage from rainwater eroding the mortar between the bricks.
A gargoyle is often times a fantastic creature, an animal or grotesque creation.
The French word gargouille which means throat or gullet leads to the name and gargoyle calls to mind the sound of the water rushing out it’s mouth as it gargles.
A carved figure that does not act as a rainspout is called a Chimera or grotesque.