02 November 2023

The high and the flighty

The bells were ringing and the location was truly inspiring so we attended mass at the Kolner Dom. The tourists were kept at a gate for the mass, perfectly understandable and nicely done, but it was easy just to confirm your wish to attend and gain entry. The bells were for midday and they came not just from the Dom but presumably they were the loudest. It's a powerful call to prayer. Sitting, waiting, musing, you could feel the immensity of the space and the occasion more than simply touristing. This is the tallest cathedral in the world and the third-tallest church. How must mediaeval minds have perceived this, 800 years ago? We know height, but even we have probably never experienced such height within a building. Firstly for the side aisles, then for the even taller central aisle and transcept. A thing of omnipotence and awe. Then the organ, again a huge sound and immense beauty. Then choral singing, a fairly weak priest's voice, through mass to communion and departure from a side door from a relatively unoccupied Dom. Be it a religious or tourist experience, either way it was quite compelling. Then on to another Koln experience, Eau di Cologne. The first Eau di Cologne was developed by Italian Giovanni Maria Farina in Koln in 1709. The better known 4711 was also developed in Koln but decades later. Both have a museum-cum-public space. We visited the Farina shop, tasted the original and later developments, as one does. I am not one to comment on the fragrance but it was a pleasant interlude and an exposure to a world I know little of.

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