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Restoration completed : Cloister in Bonn Cathedral reopens

Restoration completed : Cloister in Bonn Cathedral reopens

It is a mystical place: the cloister of Bonn Cathedral. Built in the Middle Ages, today it is one of the most completely preserved cloisters this side of the Alps. After extensive restoration work, it will be ceremoniously reopened on Corpus Christi.

If you are looking for a quiet and cool place in Bonn's city center, especially on hot summer days, the cloisters of Bonn Cathedral are highly recommended. In the course of the basic renovation of the basilica, however, it was also closed to visitors for a long time. This was because the opportunity had arisen to also thoroughly renovate it and the adjacent parish garden. Now the work has been completed. On Corpus Christi, it is once again open to the public and at the same time also the destination of the procession of the parish of Saint Martin, which belongs to the minster.

Carolin Dreisvogt-Prause is a gardener and landscape architect. She has taken on the complex task of restoring the cloister to its original form according to historical models, in close consultation with the historic preservation authority. This included a planting concept on the basis of which the beds were planted as they were in the old days and in combination with herbs and flowers mentioned in the Bible.

When she took a tour of the cloisters with the city's dean Wolfgang Picken a few weeks ago, one could only guess that a small green paradise would be created there in no time. Better said, a green-white oasis: In the meantime, mainly white-flowering varieties of rose, hogweed and lily can be admired there.

As herbs, sage, oregano, mugwort and many others compete for the most beautiful scent - all herbs that are often found in monastery gardens, explains the landscape architect. A plant combination that is intended to emphasize the contemplative atmosphere of the cloister. Which has been quite successful. The basis for this plant concept was a publication by the former head of the botanical garden in Bonn, Professor Wilhelm Barthlott, with the promising title "Plants of the Bible and the Koran“.

Costs still to be determined

Picken is very pleased with the concept: "I am very happy that the cloister has been given back its historical design and thus also its former path relationship," said the city dean. After all, he said, it is the most completely preserved Romanesque cloister this side of the Alps. According to historical sources, the former two-story collegiate building of the basilica, including the arcades, was built from 1140. The oldest parts are the south and west walls. In the early 13th century, the northern arcade had to give way in the course of the expansion of the cathedral church.

Still visible in the cloister, of course, are the tombstones of the former canons, some of which date back to the 12th century. What many may not know: In the courtyard of the cloister, the deceased parish priests of the basilica are buried - such as recently deceased Monsignor Professor Wolfgang Bretschneider, priest, church musician and since 1997 Subsidiar at Bonn Cathedral. He died on March 12. The gravesite is closed with a bronze plate. In the middle of the courtyard, a fountain bubbles in summer, which was built in 1912 by the then cathedral priest Dechant Adolph Böhmer.

The crucifixion group has also been overhauled and is now on a pedestal. All the columns of the cloister have been cleaned. However, they were no longer sandblasted, as was customary in the past, because this would have resulted in too much loss of stone, according to Dreisvogt-Prause. Also in close coordination with the monument conservation authorities, the wall damage, mainly joint damage, was repaired and a new lighting system was installed. The new lighting system illuminates the cloister, which was previously dark as dusk fell. The new benches, designed by Dreisvogt-Prause herself and bearing the cathedral logo, also invite visitors to linger. The technical implementation planning for the benches was undertaken by Bonn architect Ralph Schweitzer.

Without the financial support of the Frank Asbeck Foundation, the dream of the renewed old cloister and also the redesign of the parish garden could not have been realized, says Picken. The parish garden, which was once largely used as a parking lot, is also to have its old pathways restored and be planted with insect-friendly flowers and shrubs. The city dean knows the former Solarworld boss Frank Asbeck well from his times as Bad Godesberg dean. Among other things, he is a member of the board of trustees of the Bürgerstiftung Rheinviertel founded by Picken. "The new construction of the cloister and parish garden were originally not going ahead," says Picken.

But then Asbeck came to visit Picken's new place of work in the middle of Bonn's city center and immediately agreed that the foundation would cover the costs, which have yet to be determined. Unlike the cloister, the parish garden will not generally be open to the public, according to Picken. However, it will be included in parish activities and become a place for people to meet. "See for yourself the beauty of this historic and spiritual place in the center of the city," Picken invites us/all?>? to the ceremonial reopening of the cloister on the occasion of the Corpus Christi procession.

(Original text: Lisa Inhoffen; Translation: Mareike Graepel)