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 t ...
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

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.

In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.