These from my trip to the Dome of Cologne (Köln in German)
The Dome of Cologne took 600 years to build (1240's to 1890's) and is virtually one of the few structures left in this city that wasn't bombed to smithereenes by the British in WW2. From what I hear this was on purpose of course, since the Brits know and can respect good architecture when they see it :)
It is the largest Gothic church in Europe and was at one point the tallest structure in the world until the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower.
It also holds the shrine of the 3 kings, which is a golden box said to contain their bones. And Phil asked me to clarify since there are just too many kings in Europe but most Americans know that when I say "the three kings" i'm talking about the ones who brought baby Jesus presents...well those are the ones I'm talking about :) I got to see this even though I'm not supposed to (since I'm not Catholic or some similar reason like that), but Phil and I were able to go inside the church as part of a pilgrimage that was being held there and see things normal tourists don't get to see.
They don't normally ring the bells but that day they did and I gotta say...ever feel like your whole body is vibrating? It was way intense!
There was a mass going on with Gregorian chant that was just...positively otherworldly, especially as you hear them chanting and you look at all the centuries old effigies and tombs of crusaders, gilded Old German lettering on the walls, icons...we really felt like we had been transported to another time. It's really hard to describe, but I honestly had this feeling that we had left the 21st century upon stepping into that church. It truly was a humbling experience. So much so that Phil and I even went to pray at one of Mary's altars. Something about the surge of historical energy really brings me to my knees, literally!
Unfortunately out of respect I didn't take any photos of the inside save for one, but please enjoy many exterior photographs!
Dome of Cologne by *thornwolf on deviantART