Today your aunt Jennifer and I went with our friend Alexandra to visit Bonn, Germany. Bonn is very close to Cologne, only about 20 minutes by car or train. Bonn is famous for many reasons, do you know any?
The first thing we did was visit the Münster Basilica, which was built in the 1200′s, which is about 800 years ago! It is a very beautiful church with a nice courtyard in the middle.
After visiting the church we stopped at a wine festival. Did you know that Germany is famous for making wine? We tried some from the Rhein, which is the river that runs through Bonn and Cologne, where your aunt Jennifer lives. The square where the festival and the church are has a famous statue of Ludwig van Beethoven. Do you know who he was? He was a composer of classical music that was born and lived in Bonn. He is one of my favorite composers. I will tell you more about him in a bit.
After that we visited another pretty church, this one was built much later than the first, in 1717 and saw a medieval gate called the Star Gate. What do you think about them? I think they look really cool. You can even drink a coffee at a cafe right next to the gate!
Then we went on to the birth house of Beethoven. In his house there is a museum now about his life and a room where you can listen to some of his music. He was a very interesting person. Did you know when he wrote music for most of the time he was almost completely deaf? This didn’t stop him from writing very beautiful music. My favorite is the last symphony he wrote before he died when he couldn’t hear anything at all. It is called “Ode to Joy” and is a song about happiness. When it was played for the first time he couldn’t hear the audience clapping. When his friends turned him around to see he began to cry. It is very long, so I’ll only post the very last part. It’s almost 13 minutes long but you should listen to all of it, it gets more beautiful as it goes on.
They are singing in German, here are the lyrics in English:
O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
more full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.
Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise;
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.
All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.
After Beethoven’s house we visited the fruit and vegetable market where the historical city hall is. Elections are coming this fall so Angela Merkel, who is the chancellor of Germany, was there giving a speech. In Germany a chancellor does the same job as a president does in the States. Bonn is a very important city for politics, do you know why? After the Second World War, Germany was divided into West and East, and the capital of West Germany moved from Berlin to Bonn until Germany became one country again in 1990. There are lots of old political buildings here, and the United Nations also is here.
After lunch we went for a walk on the Rhein to the part of Bonn where these buildings and a LOT of museums are.
There are so many museums here it is called the Museum’s Mile! It started raining so we went to one called the House of History. In this museum you can learn all about life in East and West Germany after the war. Alexandra is from East Germany and she told us all about how it was growing up there before the countries became one again. It was very different from the West, and it was interesting to learn about it.
After going to the museum we went back to the city center and took a boat ride all the way back to Cologne! It was a great day and I learned a lot of new things.
The next time you hear from me I will have been to Spain. I am really excited! I really hope the weather is nice, it always seems to rain whenever I go anywhere with your aunt.