Top Historic Sights in Cologne, Germany

Explore the historic highlights of Cologne

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is Germany"s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day. Begun in 1248, the building of this Gothic masterpiece took place in several stages and was not completed until 1880. Over seven centuries, its successive builders were inspired by the same faith and b ...
Founded: 1248 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Romano-Germanic Museum

The Roman-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanisches Museum) has a large collection of Roman artifacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, on which modern Cologne is built. The museum protects the original site of a Roman town villa, from which a large Dionysus mosaic remains in its original place in the basement, and the related Roman Road just outside. In this respect the museum is an ...
Founded: 1974 | Location: Cologne, Germany

St. Andrew's Church

St. Andrew's is a 10th-century Romanesque church located in the old town of Cologne. It is one of twelve churches built in Cologne in that period. Archbishop Gero consecrated the church in 974, dedicating it to St. Andrew, although an earlier church at the site was dedicated to St. Matthew. In the 12th century, the church was rebuilt in the Romanesque style, and was probably completed after the great fire of Colog ...
Founded: 974 AD | Location: Cologne, Germany

Great St. Martin Church

The Great Saint Martin Church (Groß Sankt Martin) foundations (circa 960 AD) rest on remnants of a Roman chapel, built on what was then an island in the Rhine. The church was later transformed into a Benedictine monastery. In 1150, a fire destroyed much of Cologne and it is supposed that the entire church was destroyed. The Archbishop of Cologne Philipp I. von Heinsberg sanctified the new building in 1172, and the fir ...
Founded: c. 1172 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Wallraf-Richartz-Museum

Wallraf-Richartz-Museum houses the most extensive collection of medieval Cologne paintings, apart from the Old Pinakothek in Munich, as well as precious works from the time around 1500. Flemish and Dutch masters of the 16th to the 18th century, Rembrandt and Rubens included, are also represented as is a collection of German and French paintings from the beginnings of the modern era until 1900. The foundations for the muse ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Cologne, Germany

St. Maria Lyskirchen

St. Maria Lyskirchen is the smallest of the twelve Romanesque churches in Cologne. It was founded in 948, and the present building dates from 1210-1220, with some later additions in the Gothic style. The upper parts of the west front were rebuilt in the 19th century. The church is in the form of a three-aisled basilica, with a chancel flanked by two towers, only one of which was constructed to its full height, and an ea ...
Founded: 1210-1220 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Cologne City Museum

The armoury was built by the Imperial Town of Cologne as weapons arsenal around 1600 in Dutch Renaissance style. Today, there is the 'Kölnisches Stadtmuseum', which provides an insight into the spiritual, economic and every day life of the city of Cologne and its citizens from the Middle Ages up until today.
Founded: 1600 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Basilica of the Holy Apostles

The Basilica of the Holy Apostles (Basilika St. Aposteln) is one of the twelve Romanesque churches built in Cologne in that period. Its glory is the domed clover leaf chancel, which was built around 1200. The story of how today’s building originated begins in the 11th century. At that time the church was on the road in the direction of Aachen, directly ahead of the roman city walls at the western main gate. In the 1 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cologne, Germany

St. Maria im Kapitol

St. Maria im Kapitol is an 11th-century Romanesque church located in the Kapitol-Viertel in the old town of Cologne. It was dedicated to St. Mary and built between 1040 and 1065. It is one of twelve Romanesque churches built in Cologne during this period. Measuring 100 m x 40 m and encompassing 4,000 square metres of internal space, St. Maria is the largest of the Romanesque churches in Cologne. Like many of the lat ...
Founded: 1040-1065 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Deutz Abbey Church

Deutz Abbey was founded in 1003 on the site of a Roman fort by the future Saint Heribert, Archbishop of Cologne, close adviser of Emperor Otto III. Heribert died in 1021 and was buried in the Romanesque church he had had built here. The theologian Rupert of Deutz was abbot during the 1120s. The abbey had extensive properties, but its strategic position by the Rhine exposed it to involvement in fighting, and ...
Founded: 1003 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Hahnen Gate

Shortly after the Romans founded Cologne in 50 AD, they built a wall around the city. The wall was first expanded in the tenth century, and again in 1106, but due to the continuing growth of the city a new, 7 meters high wall was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The most important of the twelve gates that gave entrance to Cologne was the west gate, known as the Hahnentor. After their coronation in Aachen, G ...
Founded: 1235-1240 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Basilica of St. Ursula

The Basilica church of St. Ursula was is built upon the ancient ruins of a Roman cemetery. The church has an impressive reliquary created from the bones of the former occupants of the cemetery. It is one of the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne and was designated a Minor Basilica in 1920. While the nave and crossing tower are Romanesque, the choir has been rebuilt in the Gothic style. The Golden Chamber, or ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cologne, Germany

St. Cecilia's Church

St. Cecilia"s Church (Cäcilienkirche) is one of the twelve Romanesque churches in Cologne’s old city. The present building, little changed since its inception, dates from 1130-60. The origin of the church building stems from the 9th century, during which a women’s home of the same name was founded at the site, during the reign of Archbishop Willibert in 870-888. It was built on the ruins of a prior Roman bath. ...
Founded: 1130-1160 | Location: Cologne, Germany

St. Gereon's Basilica

St. Gereon's Basilica (Basilika Sankt Gereon) was first mentioned in 612. However, the building of the choir gallery, apse, and transepts occurred later, beginning under Archbishop Arnold II von Wied in 1151 and ending in 1227. It is one of twelve great churches in Cologne that were built in the Romanesque style. St. Gereon has a highly irregular plan, the nave being covered by a decagonal oval dome, 21.0 m long and ...
Founded: 1151-1227 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Basilica of St. Cunibert

The Basilica of St. Cunibert is the newest of Cologne's twelve Romanesque churches. It was consecrated 1247, one year before work on the Gothic Cologne Cathedral began. It was declared a minor Basilica in 1998. A small church located at a burial ground north of the Roman city was founded or renewed by Cunibert, ninth Bishop of Cologne. Cunibert was also buried there. After 690 the Two Ewalds were buried in the ch ...
Founded: 1247 | Location: Cologne, Germany

St. Georg's Church

St. Georg"s Church is one of twelve Romanesque churches in the city of Cologne. The date of the foundation of St Georg"s is unknown, but it was consecrated towards the end of the 11th century. The nave was vaulted in the mid-12th century, the westwerk was added in 1188 and the entrance portal on the north side in 1551. The church was damaged during World War II, resulting in extensive restoration which i ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Cologne, Germany

Basilica of St. Severin

The Basilica of St. Severin is one of the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne. St. Severin was established in the late 4th century as a memorial chapel and extended several times. The oldest parts of today"s building date back to the 10th century.  The church has been extended and enlarged several times. On the passable archaeological dig area under the church in the midst of a Roman graveyard the foundation r ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Cologne, Germany

Cologne Synagogue

Since 1899, the neo-Romanesque synagogue on Roonstraße has been the largest religious and cultural centre for the Jewish communities in Cologne. After being burned down by the Nazis on 9 November 1938, the synagogue was rebuilt between 1957 and 1959. The building’s main front has three arched portals and a large gabled façade with a centrally positioned rose window. In 2005 Benedict XVI became the first pope to visit ...
Founded: 1899 | Location: Cologne, Germany

St. Pantaleon's Church

The Church of St. Pantaleon is one of the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne. The church dates back to the 10th century. The former monastery church is consecrated to Saint Pantaleon and the Saints Cosmas and Damian and is the oldest church of the cult of Saint Pantaleon west of Byzantium. The empress Theophanu and the archbishop Bruno the Great are buried in the church, which also contains shrines of sain ...
Founded: 966 AD | Location: Cologne, Germany

Cologne Charterhouse

Cologne Charterhouse (Kölner Kartause) was a Carthusian monastery established in 1334. The monastery developed into the largest charterhouse in Germany until it was forcibly dissolved in 1794 by the invading French Revolutionary troops. The building complex was then neglected until World War II, when it was mostly destroyed. The present building complex is very largely a post-war reconstruction. Since 1928 the Cart ...
Founded: 1334 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.