Secret treasures of the northern tower

Two days ago I had the rare opportunity to have another, a much deeper glimpse back in history of this great cathedral and thus, back in time! Mr. Thum, who is not only a local actor but at the same time very knowledgeable of Munich’s history, agreed to take me around and let me look behind the usually closed doors … an adventure I wouldn’t have missed for anything! Our destination was the northern tower which is the higher one and since several decades strictly closed to the public. What I got to see there exceeded my highest expectations … I had no idea what treasures were hiding there!
I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Thum from all my heart for having made this unique trip back in time possible for me!

It took some stamina to climb up the entire tower and my lungcapacity was tested to the limit but already after a short time there was the first “reward” … a mediaeval freight-elevator, still original and right in place! It was a solid round woodpiece, some half a meter or close to twenty inches in diameter and around three meters long! I was told that the strongest workers had to turn a long wooden stick which was inserted in a hole in the middle (if you look carefully, you recognize it) in a 90° angle, sort of a lever, to lift heavy building-materials to that height. I had noticed some black larger spots at it’s end and asked about it’s origine – it was bees-wax-oil which they had used as grease!

What came after that, several meters highter, made me stand in awe … it was another kind of freight-elevater but this time in the shape of an oversized hamster-wheel! It worked according to the principle of the water-wheel … just that people, strong workers, had to walk inside. With their weight, using this mediaeval tredmill as lever – they lifted the heaviest items like the big bells! Mr. Thum asked me with a smile if I wanted to get inside and move it in order to to get a feeling for it and sure enough, I wouldn’t miss such a chance – and stepped in. It was awsome! There I stood, right in the footsteps of these great men, and started walking, carefully first, with small steps – and in no time this huge “barrel-band”, which is seven meters high and 1,60 m wide, started to move, smoothly, without a lot of noise – it was unbelievable! Before I could react, I came to a decent speed and did my best to right away slow down again to step out … I admit it got me dizzy! Now I know authentically how these men felt .. just for me it was easy – I didn’t have to hoist anything but walked inside there only for to get the feeling!

The next item was the original clock from the year 1848, no part replaced – just the way it was! Mr Thum told me that it was difficult and very dangerous for the man in charge to correct the hands outside as he literally had to hang in the ropes – so they built a small replica on which he could make the necessary corrections which were carried foreward to the big hands by all kinds of toothed-wheels and pipes!

Last not least I want to intruduce “BENNO” to you! “BENNO” is there since the tower was built, and I wish it could tell stories! Once it DOES start to sound though … you definitely won’t miss it – I am talking about the biggest bell which weighs several tons! All the enormous wooden structures which was built to hold the bell, is still originally from that time. The wood therefore was transported to Munich by rafts on the Isar-river! It is very impressive to touch and to feel the traces of the tools which were used to shape it …

On our way down – we had just descenced very few meters – the bell near “BENNO”, which is only slightly smaller, started to ring the hour and of course I headed back up to look. I assure you it didn’t only penetrate my eardrums but as well every nerve in my body – it touched my very soul! It felt as if it was calling and telling me “You were allowed a glimpse back in time – remember the great man who laboured here … carry on their memory!”


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