Richmodisturm in Altstadt-Nord

The Richmodis House, or Richmodis-Haus, is one of the most famous historical buildings in Cologne, Germany, known for its distinctive architectural features and a fascinating legend associated with it. A particularly notable feature of this house is the presence of two horse heads protruding from the tower. Here is the story and significance behind these horse heads

Near Cologne’s Neumarkt stands the Richmodishaus, built in 1928/29 according to old models, from whose tower windows two horse heads look out. These are reminiscent of the legend about the Cologne patrician Richmodis von Aducht, which played at the time of the plague.
It’s the middle of the 14th. Century. Throughout Europe, people are dying of the plague. The “Black Death” kills about 25 million people. That is about a third of the inhabitants of Europe. It is particularly affected by the cities where people live closely, partly with cattle. Infected people first get a severe fever, then bumps develop all over the body, and death occurs within a few days. The doctors are helpless. Regularly, they additionally harm their weakened patients by leaving them to the stred or treating them with emeciss or enemas.

The disease also reaches Cologne in the summer of 1349. Public life comes to a standstill – out of sheer fear of infection. Few people are willing to help the sick. Among them is the patrician Richmodis von Aducht. She comes from the respected and wealthy Lyskirchen family and married the influential Cologne mayor Richolf Mennegin von Aducht, called Mengis, in 1346. She cares for plague patients and also assists dying people without getting infected.

Historical and Architectural Significance

The Richmodis House is located in the old town of Cologne, specifically on the streets of Obenmarspforten and Martinstraße. The building showcases typical Gothic architecture with its intricate design and historical elements, making it an iconic structure in Cologne.

The Legend of Richmodis von Aducht

The legend dates back to the 14th century and revolves around Richmodis von Aducht, the wife of a wealthy patrician named Mengis von Aducht. The Plague and Apparent Death**: During a plague epidemic, Richmodis was believed to have died from the disease. Following the custom of the time, her body was quickly placed in a coffin and entombed in the family vault to prevent the spread of the plague.

Awakening and Return 

Miraculously, Richmodis awoke from her death-like state and managed to escape from her tomb. She returned to her home in her burial shroud.  According to the legend, when Richmodis returned home and knocked on the door, her husband, in disbelief and horror, exclaimed that it was as likely for his horses to climb the tower as it was for his wife to return from the dead. At that moment, the horses allegedly ran up to the tower, their heads appearing through the windows.

Symbolism of the Horse Heads

The two horse heads protruding from the tower of the Richmodis House symbolize the miraculous and supernatural nature of Richmodis’s return. This legend has become an integral part of Cologne’s folklore and is a beloved story among locals and visitors alike.

Modern-Day Significance

The Richmodis House, with its horse heads, remains a popular tourist attraction in Cologne. Visitors are drawn to the building to hear the legend and see the unique architectural feature. The story and the horse heads serve as a reminder of the city’s rich cultural and historical heritage, reflecting the blend of history, myth, and architecture that characterizes Cologne.

In summary, the two horse heads on the tower of the Richmodis House are a striking and memorable feature that draws from a fascinating local legend, adding to the rich tapestry of Cologne’s history and cultural narrative.

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