Monday, June 5, 2017

My local cathedral seems so small now

Earlier today I was reading a profile of a German-born writer and it mentioned his birthplace... in a small town in the Alps near Austria, not too far from Munich.  Immediately I thought - I've just been in that area and I know exactly what that place would be like.  And that, my friends, is why one should travel.  Well - that, and to make the big churches in your town feel like cottage-country chapels.

Okay it's not fair to compare anything to the cathedral in Cologne, because it's massive by any standard.  Even the big churches in Italy seemed less huge to me than this, except of course St. Paul's in the Vatican.

Can you make out the bird I caught flying near the top of the frame, when I snapped this picture?

What I noticed most about Cologne's cathedral was the tile work.  I liked this fountain-y spiral thing outside:

It's wet because it was raining for the first five or so days of this trip.  I'm guessing about the fountain function. 

Inside, I was smitten by this pattern,

and this one:

Tiny tiny mosaic tiles... what a meticulous job that would be to lay all that out, and oh how I would love to be assigned such a task. 

That of course is what you get when you look down.  If you look up, there's quite a different view:

I love how the ceiling is just white.  It's so clean and airy.

Plus: acoustics galore.  For contrast, let's look at the very ornate dome of the much smaller cathedral in Aachen, the building of which was begun by Charlemagne.  Not literally, of course, even though most of the decor was 'sourced' by him in his 'travels'. 

So. much. Italian. marble.  I felt I was actually eating this place up with my eyes, it was so beautiful.  Stone as far as the eye could see.  And gold, and stunning metalwork.

A friend standing next to me joked that I should get a chandelier like this for my house.  Ha, ha.  (this chandelier is about the size of the house.)

The acoustics in Aachen were also amazing.  All the concerts we traveled to hear were fantastic.  You know, I've never been able to sing properly - I can carry a tune and my voice is good enough, but I can only get through one song before my throat gets sore - so I've never sung in a choir.  But the older I get the more I appreciate the haunting resonance of the human voice, especially when unaccompanied by anything more than other voices.  I know they're churches and built to worship inside, but sometimes I think the real purpose of these achingly tall buildings was always just to amplify this particular sound... though of course, from the outside, in addition to being a point of pride and geographic focus, they tell stories through their complex masonry.  And I love that aspect of them, too.

Anyway, the cathedral here in Toronto (now a Cathedral Basilica owing to its recent renovation) feels like an intimate parish church to me now.  And a toasty warm one, at that. 

I have been taking so many pictures the last week or two for writing lots of blog stories, but I've had zero time to write them up.  Let's hope this is just the first of many posts I manage this week, because I've missed you guys!

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