The medieval period in Cologne, starting in the 12th century and lasting into the 16th, saw a blossoming of art and architecture that was nothing short of amazing. This was the period when construction of the massive cathedral was begun and when the city’s 12 Romanesque churches were built. Cologne was a major pilgrimage site, and art—nearly always sacred in nature—flourished with superb woodcarvers, stonecarvers, stained-glass makers, and painters. This is the art that you will see in the strangely undervisited Schnǖtgen Museum, housed in a rather forbidding looking modern building that incorporates the graceful Romanesque church of St. Cäcilien (St. Cecilia, patron saint of music) within its walls. A must for anyone interested in Cologne’s medieval artistic heritage, the museum houses a small, splendid sampling of sacred art from the early Middle Ages to the baroque. The surprisingly expressive sculptures and images in stained glass will give you an idea of the artistic blessings bestowed upon “Holy Cologne.” Outside, around the back, a skeleton has been spray-painted on the walled-in western portal of the church. Called simply “Tod” (Death), this oddly engaging work is by the Zurich graffiti artist Harald Nägele.
- Frommer's Staff