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  • Writer's pictureSElliott

Day 3 - Ornate Palaces, Golden Shrines and a New Friend

Updated: Dec 25, 2022

We left dock at Dusseldorf at 3am this morning, not that I was awake to see it! But when I woke up in the morning we were moving past a LNG loading station which piped LNG onto barges for transport elsewhere. I recognised some of the barges that had passed by our mooring yesterday.

Picture 1 - LNG Piping onto Barge

It was a buffet breakfast in the restaurant. I started with a cooked breakfast, followed by a yummy omelette and finished with a waffle. So I was well prepared for the day’s activities!

These started with a walk around the sundeck courtesy of Mum. As we were doing our walking laps we enjoyed the views as the ship started to enter Cologne.

At around 8:30am we returned back to our cabin to prepare for our first excursion – a guided tour of the Augustusburg Palace. This was built in the 18th century for Clemens August of Bavaria who was the Prince-Elector and Archbishop of Cologne. This meant that he was one of the people who could vote for who would become the Emperor of Germany. His brother was Emperor Charles VII and he was also related, through marriage, to Marie Antoinette.

Picture 2 - Augustusburg Palace

The Palace was very ornate with a very grand marble and stucco staircase. At the bottom of the staircase the colour scheme is greens and pinks which represents being on earth. As the staircase rises, the colour scheme lightens until it reaches the painted ceiling, designed by Carlo Carlone. This is to represent the heavens. So as you are ascending the staircase you are, metaphorically, ascending to heaven.

Pictures 3, 4, 5, 6 - Grand Staircase

From the staircase we entered the State Apartments. This was part of the ceremony of court. The guests would first ascend the grand staircase before entering the apartments and moving from room to room until they reached the Audience Hall where they would bring petitions and have political discussions with the owner of the rooms.

The first of the state rooms was the guardroom, again with ornate frescoed walls and decorative ceilings. A number of the decorative elements were designed to venerate the family and feature the colours of Bavaria (blue and white).

Pictures 7, 8 - Guardroom

The next room was the Dining and Music State Room. This was where state banquets were held, accompanied by musicians playing on the balcony (that runs high up around the room) and, on occasion, being watched by spectators. Who knew that eating fancy food was once seen as entertainment!

Pictures 9, 10, 11 - Dining and Music Room

We then entered the first antechamber of the state rooms - these were where guests waited until they were invited further. So, depending on how much the owner liked you, the quicker you moved through the antechambers to the Audience Hall!

As we traversed the audience rooms they got progressively fancier until we reached the Audience Hall which was really ornate with a gold gilded frescoed ceiling. This depicted the hunt with hunting dogs and, in the corners, scenes depicting the hunting of herons with falcons. The point of heron hunting was not to kill the heron but to catch it. When the bird was caught a ring was put on it and it was then released back to the wild. A good hunter would be able to catch a heron without harming it whereas a bad hunter would kill the bird. This would then reflect on the ability of the hunter to rule - a good hunter was seen to be a good ruler.

If you were a trusted favourite, you could be invited into the State Bathroom! I must say, I’m glad I’m not expected to work whilst having a bath!! After the State Bathroom, the rooms where trusted friends or advisors were invited are located. These included the cabinet room and the library.

In the cabinet room there was a rather “relaxed” ceiling where, after the ornate ceiling of the previous rooms was a simple ceiling showing “funny monkeys”. These pictures poke fun at humans by showing monkeys doing human activities such as hunting or playing games. The slightly tongue-in-cheek style of this ceiling is representative of the fact that this was a room where close friends and advisors were invited.

Picture 12 - "Funny Monkeys"

The library, rather than being a place where books live, is the place where the owners could show off their porcelain collections.

Picture 13 - Library

We finished the guided tour in the private dining room, a more relaxed room with blue and white tiles on the walls. These helped to keep the room cool. There was also a fountain in one wall where they would have put the wine bottles during the dinner.

Pictures 14, 15 - Private Dining Room

After the tour, we had just enough time to do a circuit of the gardens before returning to the bus and being transported back to Cologne.

Picture 16 - Gardens


Cologne, or Köln, was named, not after someone but because it became a colony of Emperor Claudius of Rome. The niece of the emperor was born in Cologne and, as the Emperor was really fond of her, he married her. As she was born in Cologne, she was fond of the city and asked the Emperor to raise its status. To please her, the emperor raised the status of the city as she asked and, by doing so, raised the status of the people of the city so that they had the same rights as the people living in Rome. Emperor Claudius, when he raised the status of the city, named it CCAA – Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium This was then shortened to Cologne.

On our return to Cologne, we had a short walking tour to the Cathedral before being let loose for our free afternoon. Mum and I started by visiting the Cathedral. When we did this Mass was underway so we saw a small part of the Cathedral whilst the organ was playing - it was quite atmospheric. As Mass was underway, we could not visit most of the Cathedral at this time so Mum and I returned to the ship for lunch.

Pictures 17, 18, 19 - Köln Cathedral

Lunch was carrot soup with some roasted pork and roast potatoes before strawberry swiss roll. All-in-all a most satisfying lunch. We finished with coffee/tea before returning to our cabin where we found that Tiggy and Polar had a new friend! After picking up our things (i.e. the camera), we headed back out to explore Cologne.

Picture 20 - Tiggy and Polar's new friend...

We walked along the riverbank, underneath the Hohen Zollernbrucke bridge and onto the Rheingarten. We then turned up Mauthgasse, past the back of the Romanesque St Martins Church and the coloured buildings of the Fischmarkt that are shown on so many pictures of Cologne’s Old Town. We continued along the Buttermarkt, past the beer museum, before taking a right up Salzgasse to the Heumarkt and its equestrian statue of Friedrich Wilhelm III. On one of the walls of the many restaurants of the area was a statue of a drunkard, balanced on the shoulders of a monk, who was balanced on a beer keg – I have to wonder who was the most drunk!

Picture 21 - Fischmarkt

Picture 22 - Drunken Men

Picture 23 - Equestrian Statue

From the Heumarkt we walked through to the Old Market. We then returned to the Cathedral where, after a visit to the Cathedral shop, we entered the Cathedral. This time the Cathedral was fully open so we were able to walk around to the altar area. Here is the Shrine of the Three Magi which was brought to Cologne in the 12th century to entice pilgrims to visit the city. They were the “tourists” of the day in those times. The inside of the Cathedral was decorated - there were decorative stained glass windows but also ornately decorated and painted altars and decorative tiling on the floors. The golden shrine was something else as well. We didn’t climb to the top of the spire though, as our legs wanted a holiday!

Picture 24 - Old Market

Pictures 25, 26, 27 - Köln Cathedral Interior

When we had finished in the Cathedral we returned to the boat along the river where a flea market was underway!

Tonight we had the Captain’s Reception and Dinner. I was a little piggy again and had a four course dinner – it was so nice. Finishing with a birthday cake for mum!! Thankfully it wasn’t chocolate.

After dinner was a music quiz before heading off to bed, ready to wake up in the Rhine Gorge.

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