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Three stage refurbishment: Bonn cathedral to close for two to three years

Three stage refurbishment : Bonn cathedral to close for two to three years

Clean up and restoration works will begin on Bonn cathedral from July. The basilica on Münsterplatz will remain closed for a lengthy period. The costs of the works are estimated to be Euro 20 million.

The preparations for the refurbishment of Bonn cathedral will begin in July. “The closure is an interference with inner city life,” said the city dean Wilfried Schumacher at a press conference on Monday evening. The basilica will remain closed for two to three years. Planners have announced a building period of 30 months but it could be shorter or longer. This sort of building can lead to surprises, although nearly every stone has been analysed over the last three years.

The last service will take place at noon on 23 July. Schumacher will then close the doors to the papal basilica and hand the keys over to project head Ägidius Strack and architect Ulrich Hahn. The more than 260-year-old cathedral bells will ring for the last time before a procession through the city to Sankt Remigius, where the congregation will find a temporary home at the Catholic university parish church. Only the Sunday evening service, which according to the city dean’s office is attended mainly by young people, will take place in the Protestant Schloss church.

“The sound of the cathedral bells will be replaced by the hustle and bustle of the builders,” said Schumacher, who had invited residents to an information talk the same evening. The project head said up to 50 workmen from various trades will work on the site at peak times. Setting up the work site in the centre of the pedestrian zone will also be a logistical challenge.

The cathedral needs to be cleared before works can begin on 15 August. Church pews and moveable object such as statues, pictures and lights will be stored. The large organ will need to be taken to pieces and correctly stored for the duration of the works. “The church’s treasures will be placed in a bank vault,” reported Schumacher.

All passersby will see of the preparatory works to the roof structure is extraction hoses and a special vehicle which will be used to remove dust and insulation. In the second phase of works, scaffolding will be erected throughout the interior of the cathedral. Braces and tie rods will stabilise the building, which moves several millimetres each year. Vaults and cracked walls will be repaired. Building services and lighting will be renewed. All the old cabling must be removed. The appointed lighting planner has already done the lighting for Cologne Cathedral.

During the final phase of works, the cathedral’s west and south facades will be restored. During this time restorers will work on areas of the interior such as the altars and the mosaics in the choir. The congregation will take the relics of the city’s patron saints with them. Their blessing will perhaps help with the building works.

For current information on the building works go to: bonner-muenster.de/sanierung. Anyone wanting to sponsor a stone at the cathedral can find information atmein-bonner-muenster.de.

Original text: Bettina Köhl. Translated by Kate Carey.