The train station in Cologne is rather modern and looks like just about every other one in Germany. So as I was walked in to the central area toward the exit I was thinking about something else. I did not pay much attention to the large glass wall that stretched from one side of the central area to the other, as well as to the ceiling. I was just aware enough of the people around me to not bump into someone.
But then I saw it. It blocked the sky from over a third of the huge glass wall. I was awe struck. I have never seen a building so large. It's dark Gothic stones looming like a monolith from a different world. I stood there, mouth open, and walked slowly toward it, eyes wide. I had been put in a trance by the ancient builders:the people, if they were human, who conjured up with powerful, dark magic this strange, awesome, enchanted building. It was so large that the opaque ceiling of the train station obscured the top of the building till I was completely out of the station. And then, I had to arch my head back to see the tops of the spires, details lost in foreshortening.
From a distance the building seems almost absurd. It seems like somebody time-warped some monolith from the Middle Ages and dumped it in the middle of a modern city, right next to the train station. Every other building is not much more then 50 years old and they all surround it by not much more then a 50 yards. I think the rest of the city was destroyed in World War 2. Some how the carpet bombers managed to level the city but, through some enchantment, this ancient building survived.
Getting closer I saw the rows of massive flying buttresses that must support a tremendous weight. And walking around to the front, I saw its huge doors. Perhaps, they were made for the giants who built it. Or perhaps they were made for God. They were doors that one man could not open. It would take half a dozen strong people to open such a door. A smaller door, still much larger then a person was inside one of the larger ones. I guess the builders wanted to accommodate normal people, as well.
Entering the building I was once again awestruck. Architecture does not normally create such complex emotions. I was filled with awe, and fear of a greater being. As if God himself had come from heaven and build this building. But the God of this building was not the God I was raised with. This building was built by a dark, vengeful, wrathful God.
On Sunday, we went back to the cathedral, and they were having mass. The mass made the building more strange and wonderful. A children's choir processed through the building. Their high, delicate voices echoed between the great stone walls. Hearing the priest give mass in German made the strange place all the stranger. Between the forgin building, language, and acoustic effect of the walls, the whole event seemed very alien. Yet, at the same time, I think, if were to move Cologne, I would most definitely not only go to church, but sing in the choir, even if I did not believe. The power of that building was that great. And perhaps, if I spent enough time there, I might become a devout Catholic.