Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Römisch-Germanische Museum - walking on history

I was really conflicted about what to write about today; on one hand I'd planned to recap the museum we visited last week, but on the other hand, remember I mentioned we were going to dinner last night? Well, I can't wait to tell you about the AMAZING hospitality we were shown last night... Hence the Facebook status : "yesterday evening Malcolm and I truly experienced hospitality. Totally supernatural warmth and love from somebody who, literally 24 hours previously, was a stranger."
But, seeing as it's Travel Tuesday, I've decided to save that for Friday's week recap and go ahead and tell you about the Römisch-Germanische Museum. The museum documents the Roman city Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, the city on top of which the current city of Cologne is built today. 

The first Thursday of every month is “Kolner Day” and residents of Cologne are permitted entrance into some museums for free. Since arriving and peering through the window, we’d wanted to visit the Römisch-Germanische Museum, and, even though it is reasonably priced, had waited for the day we could go in for free!

So after Malcolm finished at the CDC, we headed there. Once pulling out the document that shows we live in Cologne and then presenting our passports we were granted access. Malcolm needed to hand in his backpack (50c charge) and then we were free to explore.

On the main level there’s a display exhibiting various musical instruments, which were really interesting... the intricacy was incredible, and it’s definitely a characteristic that kept popping up.

romische Germanische Romano Germanic museum Cologne Koln

We ascended the stairs past the reconstruction of an amazing funeral monument from 40AD, and up to the 1st story. We were amazed at how big the museum was – much bigger than it seems from outside!

romische Germanische Romano Germanic museum Cologne Koln
The Funeral Monument of Sepulcher of Pobicius

They have preserved the arch way, just a small part of Cologne’s old city gate. We also got to see the statues of various Leaders... Emperor Augustus, Julius Caesar, Nero... they have a room dedicated to showing various “faces”, illustrating how much detail was put into the eyes.

romische Germanische Romano Germanic museum Cologne Koln

romische Germanische Romano Germanic museum Cologne Koln

Aside from many, many funeral monuments, stones with inscriptions thanking gods, ancient pillars and statues, the museum also has an extensive collection of Roman glass (exquisite!), clay oil lamps (very extensive and arranged categorically) and medieval and Migration period jewelry. The jewelry was amazing to look at – again, the intricacy of it, the symbolism, the effort that is so evident. 

romische Germanische Romano Germanic museum Cologne Koln

They also have beautiful tiled mosaics on the floor. The museum was built around the mosaic of a Roman villa, dating back to 220/230AD, which was discovered while an air-raid shelter was being built. 

The museum is fascinating and we really did spend hours there. However, it’s dimly lit and there’s no air-conditioning, so I found myself getting really tired and hot... fortunately there are plenty of benches to rest on! Also, to be quite honest, I don’t know too much about Roman history, or any ancient history for that matter (aside from what Anabel managed to teach me, what Malcolm explained to me from movies like 300, Troy, etc.  and some knowledge from the Bible). Consequently, I don’t think I appreciated the museum as much as I could have. 

That said, I did learn a few things..
1.   Mothers were highly honoured. So often there was a statue of the emperor and then his mother. I love my Moms!
2.  It doesn’t always pay to be the important one and placed centrally in a monument. Centuries later, it’s probably going to be your face chipped off the worst.
3. The soldiers were really highly regarded, and not only fought the battles but did other civil-servant type stuff too. (see how eloquent I am about my new-found knowledge?)
4. Milestones used to literally be mile stones.
5.  Ducks were common even back then. 
6. Glass-blowers were really skilled and really artistic.
7.  That soliders would sometimes carry their god of war along with them to their camp... A huge hunk of stone. The Holy Spirit, God with us, all of that was truly revolutionary.
8. Only rich people could afford movable furniture, the rest were carved out of stone.
9. It's really difficult to take photos through glass. 
10. The battery warning on a camera is there for a reason. 

romische Germanische Romano Germanic museum Cologne Koln
1. there were several of these alters to the Matronae Boudunnehae, and the middle mother-goddess always had a damaged face.
2. the milestone from the road between Cologne and Trier.
3. Little duck sculptures. 


romische Germanische Romano Germanic museum Cologne Koln
The amazing Roman glass work. The museum has the largest collection of locally made Roman glass. 

So there you have my high-lights of the museum... as I hinted at, my camera batteries died, though fortunately it was just before we left. It was really worth visiting, and if I studied up on some history before going I'm sure it would've been even more worth while!
Want more info? Here's were to go for the official site, and here's the wikipedia page in English


  1. What a cool place! We tried to get to Cologne when we had a very long layover in Dusseldorf but never made it. It seems like such an interesting town and I would love to explore it one day.

    1. It is super-cool (the museum and the rest of Cologne)... growing up in a small town I never thought I'd love a city, but I love it here - there's so much to do and it's really diverse. If you ever get a chance to explore it, go for it :D
      p.s. I wanted to email you a reply but you're no-reply-address...? :)

  2. HA! I love the #2 thing you learned - too funny :)

    When I was in London, I saw the Pompeii exhibit at the British Museum - so much of it all sounded vaguely familiar from old history lessons, but it really made me want to learn more about that time and that world! I think that's the sign of a good museum, right, that you go away wanting to learn more? It means your interest was piqued!

    1. Absolutely! I know bits and pieces but to put it together I really need to read up... there's a huge collection of jewellery and they have descriptions, but I couldn't quite figure out where it fits in, totally inspired me to read more! I would have headed straight home and onto wikipedia, but it was hot and we found ice-cream.... ;)

  3. Hi Erica, thanks for the virtual tour of the museum. I don't get tired of Roman antiquities and love learning about new museums that have collections of them. I know it's challenging to take photos at museum but yours came out well.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'd definitely recommend a visit if you love this kind of thing - their collections really are great!
      As for the photos, thank you!

  4. oh yes, i dislike having to take photos through glass, especially if you are with other tourists and they are making their reflection without meaning to in your photograph. Great museum though I would love to go visit. :) I'm a huge history buff. Thank you for linking up with Belinda and I for Travel Tuesday!

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose