Traveling to Europe was one of my most remarkable experiences; I am amazed by how beautiful this continent is. When I was in college, I was fascinated with Switzerland and its stunning mountains, but when I joined a trip to Europe I fell in love with Germany.
Germany is widely known for its unique culture, rich history, delicious food, and fine beers. This notable country is also known as the land of poets, but Germany is more than that. Strolling along the beautiful country of Germany will leave you in awe of their beautiful castles and amazing churches; one that captures my attention is the Cologne Cathedral.
Cologne Cathedral dubbed as the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe which stands 515 feet tall is an amazing sight in Cologne. When I first tour in Cologne, I thought it was a castle as I can see it in the distance but coming close to it and as explained by our tour escort, I then realized that it was a church. When I first went to Europe in May 2015 it was under renovation the same thing when I returned in October 2019 it is still under renovation so I was very curious and explored the internet why it was still under renovation and found out that even the construction of this church took a while. The construction started in 1248 and still was not completed because they didn’t have enough funds and apathy of the builders for Gothic churches by that time. It was by 1880 that the two big towers were added for the church construction but would you believe that even it was 600 years before something was constructed for the church the two towers are uneven.
There is a legend about the Cathedral that when the Old Cathedral was to be replaced, Master Gerhard, who studied the art of Cathedral Architecture in France, was commissioned to design a new arrangement within a year. He started the work devotedly but every time he was certain that he had found an executable plan, new problems occurred and he began to have doubts if he could do it or not. One day when he was walking on the other side of the Rhine, wholly filled with his sorrows, he came upon a huge stone which was called the “Devil’s Stone”, there he fell asleep. When Master Gerhard awoke, an unfamiliar person stood before him, dressed in the way of the French architects. The stranger began to draw in the sand with his stick the lines of a building plan which Master Gerhard easily recognized as the completed plan of the Cathedral. Surprised with what he saw, Gerhard asked the stranger what he must give in exchange to receive this plan. The stranger said “I will help you build the structure in three years if you will offer yourself as well as your wife and child. In case that I will not be able to complete the building at the first crow of the rooster at the end of the last night of the third year, you, your wife, and child will be free.”
I think that not even the devil can complete such a huge structure within three years, thought Master Gerhard and agreed to the bet. The work at the cathedral proceeded as quickly as never before. By day and night, the sound of construction rang and the Master architect became more and more amazed, before long it was rumored that weird and evil things were going on at the cathedral. When Master Gerhard wife’s learned about this she was worried so she questioned her husband and to her disdain, her husband told her of the deal. With her despair, the intelligent wife began to think of a way out of his husband’s deal.
One day, as she went to the market with her son, the child pointed out a rooster and tried to imitate its sound. Full of happiness the intelligent wife hugged her child because his son has given her an idea on how to escape the deal. She began to practice the sound of the rooster at home until the roosters of the entire neighborhood began to answer her. The last night of the third year came and the wife of the Master architect prayed that God would save them. Soon before the first break of dawn, just as the last stone of the Cathedral tower was being raised to the top, she belts out a sound like that of the rooster, and all the roosters in the area answered her back. With a deafening noise, the Cathedral collapsed. Hence Master Gerhard and his family had been saved but the Cathedral was only finished several centuries later. (By ‘Deyemi Akande, 2016 H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow | Jul 18, 2017, 4)
Looking back at the story, it gives me somehow an explication of the reason behind the century-old construction of the cathedral – not only about money and disinterest but it would be somehow more exciting and interesting for a tourist like me to discover that a legend or an anecdote was behind this undoubtedly beautiful Cathedral.
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