Tuesday, January 14, 2014

December's Adventure: Day 5, Part 2: Cologne

St. Ursula Church
Ursulaplatz 24

Earlier on day five, we huffed and puffed up and down more than a thousand stairs at the Cologne Cathedral as mentioned in Part 1. That was a beautiful trip to the cathedral. We were then ready to see something unusual: the Golden Chamber (Goldene Kammer in German) at the Basilica of St. Ursula. It's an ossuary filled with decorative arrangements of human bones.

We silently perused the church, taking in the architecture and adornments. However, we didn't see one thing in particular: the ossuary! I turned around and looked toward the main entrance to the church. There were two doors on the side. One was locked and quiet. A woman walked up and opened the other door, which turned out to be the ossuary. For about two euros a piece we were admitted and spent about ten minutes taking in the room. Photography without a flash is allowed so these pictures have an odd hue.

I would say that it's definitely worth a visit to the Golden Chamber. It's very unusual, interesting, and of course, a bit macabre. There is a legend about St. Ursula and the 11,000 or 11 virgins (that's quite a difference!) who died with her during an attack of the Huns. Supposedly those are the bones used to decorate the Golden Chamber. A very bored-sounding gentleman who worked at the Domforum said that the bones were actually from the Roman graveyard that was removed to make way for the current church to be built.

Whether these bones are legendary virgins (11 or 11,000? Gee, maybe the legend got distorted like a game of Telephone!), or just from ancient Romans, it's an interesting visit that encourages some memento mori.

She may just be hiding bones in that belly!
This Mädchen either had brain surgery...or she's hiding bones in her head! Either way, she seems strangely happy.

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