Browsing articles tagged with " Architecture"

Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, Germany

Berlin, June 2015

It is the fourth city in Germany, in terms of population, after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, a big city crossed by a hundreds of kilometers long river with centuries of history on its banks. Cologne, Köln, has many churches, like these 12 Romanesque, which are just a sample of the many jewels hoarded on its streets and squares. A bit about each of them can be read here, in German:

The origin of Köln goes back to the first decades of the christian era, when the Roman Emperor Claudius elevated the then village to Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Colony of Claudius and Altar of the Agrippiner). This gave Colonia the status of ‘city’ under Roman law, being granted more rights than before. This was in the year 50 a.D. In the past almost 2,000 years of history, Cologne has evolved into a financial center and also… the most “carnival city” in Germany! Indeed, it is the seat of some important automotive companies such as Ford Europe, with about 20,000 employeees, and also of the German headquarters of Citroën and Renault. Firms like Lufthansa, Galeria Kaufhof (a big chain of malls), Rewe and RTL, the main private television corporation in Germany, are based in Cologne as well. Of course, the eau of Cologne was born here!

But not only work is important, and proof of it is the tradition that starts every 11th day of the 11th month (November), at 11.11AM: the craziest carnival in Germany. Its culmination, on Ash Wednesday, is the burning of Nubbel, leaning on an old tradition that at the end of carnival, the carnival itself must die. The Nubbel is impersonated by a straw puppet that represents “somewhere” and “someone”, i.e. someone whose identity and placing isn’t clear, but he is known and sure to exist. The parades of Rose Monday (Rosenmontag, vídeo), and of the spirits (Geisterzug, vídeo) will be left behind. Also, needless to say, liters and liters of Kölsch!

Cologne is well known abroad for its espectacular cathedral. It’s construction, initiated back in 1248, did not finish until 1880, more than 600 years later (the Sagrada Família in Barcelona was begun “only” 130 years ago, so no complaints!). The cathedral, for some years in the 19th century the tallest building in the world, takes in the shrine of the Three Kings, a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Three Kings; it is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of cathedral. In 1996, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites.

Now Cologne can be explored in Catalan and in Spanish with! You that you can taste a bit of it, we suggest you watch the following two videos: the first one is a presentation of the city, the second one shows some images previous to the destruction of the city during WWII. Enjoy them, and see you in Cologne!

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An art bunker

Berlin, March 2015

Anything is possible in Berlin, no matter what. For example, that a bunker becomes the most “protected” art gallery in the world…

A 5-storey building with a surface area of 1.000 m², the nazis had the Reichsbahnbunker Friedrichstraße built during the war. It was bound to give shelter to the neighbouring civilians, threatened by the bombings. After the war, the soviets used it as a prison until the government of the GDR gave it a new use, in 1949: first as a warehouse for textile, later to store food (for this reason it was named “Bananenbunker” by the neighbours).

After the Wall fell in 1989, the bunker became a space for culture and leisure: theather performances, exhibits, … In the early ’90, its convertion into the “Ex-Kreuz-Club” made the place famous in all of Europe, until it was shut down in 1996. Finally, the Polish businessman and art collector Christian Boros bought the building, where the “Boros Collection” was opened in 2008. It displays some 500 pieces of art, an exhibition that can be visited on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (with previous registration, here).

The essential “touch of glam” is brought by the impressive penthouse where Boros and his family live.

Interviews with Christian Boros:

in English, at
in German, at and

Reviews about the Boros Collection:

in English, at

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The Pope’s revenge

Berlin, March 2015

When the sun shines on the Fernsehturm’s tiled stainless steel dome, the reflection usually appears in the form of a cross. This effect was neither predicted nor desired by the planners. Berliners immediately named the luminous cross Rache des Papstes, or “Pope’s Revenge”. For the same reasons, the structure was also called “St. Walter” (from Walter Ulbricht).

U.S. President Ronald Reagan mentioned this phenomenon in his “Tear down this wall” speech on 12 June 1987:

“Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexanderplatz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw: treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere, that sphere that towers over all Berlin, the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.”
Source: Wikipedia

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A round trip palace

Berlin, 1 July 2014

It burnt to the ground on February 3rd 1945, it was demolished starting September 7th 1950, and it began its way back on June 12th 2013, when the foundation stone of its reconstruction was laid.

One year later, the reincarnation of the “City palace” (Stadtschloß, in German) keeps taking shape, in order to reopen in 2019. Last June 1st it was open doors day, and was there, of course 🙂

Actually, when it reopens it will become a new name: no more “City palace” but “Humboldt-Forum”. It will be a centre of culture, art and science in downtown Berlin, although it will have the same Baroque-look of its ancestor (except for the façade on the river, a modern one according to the plans of the Italian architect Franco Stella). Several museums, a 600-seat auditorium, a book store and a library, the “Humboldt-Forum” will gather various facilities currently spread out in the city.

* Check some pics of the building under construction, here:
* Feel like taking a glance of the construction site, right now, live? click here:

* Website of the “City palace Association”:

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The crazy king had a castle built

Berlin, 29 July 2013

To visit the breathtaking Neuschwanstein castle is a must. Its shape, outlined against the green, ocher or white landscape depending on the season, rises majestically south of Bavaria, close to the Austrian border. A mad king’s dream come true… at least in part.

Quite, Ludwig II of Bavaria lived only 40 years, a short life, narrowly linked to that of the composer Richard Wagner from the very moment when, at the age of 16, the then prince listened to the operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin for the first time. Ludwig was enthrowned when he was 18, on the same day his father passed away, in 1864. His “particular” character would push him have a castle built, where he could feel protected from the people.

Two episodes of his live as a monarch deserve especial atention: the defeat of Bavaria in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, after which the reserved character of the king was stressed, distanced from his obligations, and his failed wedding to Princess Sophia of Bavaria, the sister of empress Sissi: after several postponements, the king himself cancelled the ceremony for good.

Neuschwanstein started taking shape in 1869, dominating over the region and built in the image of the medieval castles, only in this case the building included “modernities” such as central heating, tap water and even telephone connexion in parts of the castle. Short after his death, which happened under odd circumstances in 1886, the castle opened doors to the public; from then on, it has been visited by over 60 million people.

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Would you like to see the castle via webcam? (that is, whenever the cam works properly!). Click here.

We recommend you fervently to watch the documentary below, which was produced by the German station ZDF. It explains the life of Ludwig II of Bavaria through the history of Neuschwanstein. English subtitles are available by clicking on <cc>.

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