Worshiping at high mass in the Koln Cathedral was not at all what I expected it to be. The hymnals were sung mostly in Latin, and it didn’t really seem as though many people from the congregation were singing along. They mostly just listening to the choir and read along in the hymnal book. During the church service, I was looking up at the Cathedral ceiling, thinking about how incredible it was that it was built so long ago by builders who had no idea what trusses and frames were but is still standing strong.
Of course there have been repairs to it over the years, but nothing so dramatic that it changed the structure. I was also trying to think of what the thought process would have been when designing the building. The stain glass that occupied every window was very detailed along with the extreme precision that was required when building a single post for each arch that held the ceiling up. All of the material that we have been learning in class came into my head while I was looking at the building and honestly, I was kind of butthurt that I could no longer look at a gorgeous building and thinking “oh wow, this is beautiful” without first seeing if there are any zero force members in the ceiling trusses that kept the roof up. After analyzing that building, I refocused on the sermon (which was spoken in German) and realized that the Catholic creed is not very different from the creed we memorized in our German at Calvin. That part might have been my favorite because I was fully aware of what was going on.
After church was over, we were allowed to climb up the 537 stairs up to the bell tower. It was an amazing view once we got up there, but yikes those staircases were small! At the top of the bell tower, we could see miles into the distance. There was fencing around the tower so that no one fell off, making it a little difficult to see in some areas, but it was an incredible from the areas we could see out of. When we came down from the tower and out of the Cathedral, there were hundreds of tourists waiting in line to get in. My initial thought was, why are they waiting outside when they could have just gone to church and gotten the full experience that the Cathedral had to offer? Then we were told that Religion as well as church attendance has gone down a significant amount over the last few years, especially in Europe. When there are so many beautiful castle churches and cathedrals to worship in, why wouldn’t people want to go? The answer to that is unknown, however, I still had an amazing time!