Cologne · It is something that hasn’t been seen for ten years - no more scaffolding and an unobstructed view of the west façade of Cologne Cathedral.
Work on dismantling the scaffolding on the north tower of Cologne Cathedral began on Thursday. Early in the morning, four small figures can be seen clambering around on the scaffolding at a height of more than 100 metres. Their hammering as they loosen the fastening bolts can be heard all the way down to the ground. A large crowd of onlookers stands around the cordoned-off area, with their heads turned steeply upwards.
Cathedral master builder Peter Füssenich explains that a giant crane is being used to bring down the scaffolding, which consists of three parts, by the afternoon. The first of the three parts was brought to the ground in the morning. The removal of the scaffolding had been planned for Tuesday but had to be cancelled at short notice due to strong winds.
The scaffolding was installed in 2011 due to falling stone which posed a danger to the people constantly passing by below. This was caused by the iron used in the filial turrets which decorate the corners of the tower. “Iron rusts and can lead to cracks in the stone. That is why on all the tower corners we are replacing these iron reinforcements with stainless steel ones which can no longer rust,” explains Füssenich. At the same time, war damage to the cathedral was repaired and two three-metre-high angel figures were replaced.
With the 30-metre-high scaffolding gone, the west façade of the cathedral with the main portal and the two towers will be visible without scaffolding for the first time in ten years. There should then be a clear view of the cathedral until 2023. Then, however, there new scaffolding will need to be erected again for further repair works. Many people wonder why this is so. Other buildings, such as Big Ben in London, are only scaffolded for a few years and then they shine in new splendour for decades. Why can't the same be done in Cologne? Peter Füssenich explains, “Cologne Cathedral is such a delicate structure with so many surfaces and thousands of small filial towers that there is always something to do. The Cologne people have a saying: “Wenn der Dom fertig ist, geht die Welt unter” (when the cathedral is finished, the world will end). I can promise you, that’s definitely not going to happen in the next few decades.”