Cathedrals in Germany

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

Berlin Cathedral

The history of the cathedral on Berlin’s Spree Island began in 1465, when the St. Erasmus Chapel in the newly built royal palace of Cölln on the Spree was elevated to the stature of collegiate church. In 1536, Elector Joachim II moved the it into the former Dominican church, south of the palace.With Martin Luther’s support, the elector established the Reformation in 1539, and the church became a Lutheran. In 1608, th ...
Founded: 1894-1905 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Dresden Cathedral

Dresden Cathedral (Hofkirche) stands as one of Dresden's foremost landmarks. It was designed by architect Gaetano Chiaveri from 1738 to 1751. The church was commissioned by Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland while the Protestant city of Dresden built the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) between 1726 and 1743. The Catholic Elector decided that a Catholic church was needed in order to counterbalance the Pro ...
Founded: 1738-1751 | Location: Dresden, Germany

Bremen Cathedral

Early history The first church structure that can be verified on the site of the current Bremen Cathedral was a timber church built by Saint Willehad, an early missionary to the Frisians. The church was built about 789 in conjunction with the creation of the Diocese of Bremen with Willehad as the first bishop. Just three years later Saxons attacked and burned Bremen and its tiny timber cathedral. No trace of it remains. ...
Founded: 11-13th century | Location: Bremen, Germany

Aachen Cathedral

The Cathedral of Aachen is one of the most famous examples of occidental architecture. It is the coronation church of more than 30 German kings, burial site of Charlemagne, major pilgrimage church and cathedral church of the Aachen diocese since 1930. In 1978 it was the first German building to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. When the Emperor Charlemagne built his representative “Pfalz”, the Palace, be ...
Founded: 793-813 AD | Location: Aachen, Germany

Freiburg Minster

Freiburg Minster is the cathedral of Freiburg. The last duke of Zähringen started the building around 1200 in Romanesque style and the construction continued in 1230 in Gothic style. The minster was partly built on the foundations of an original church that had been there from the beginning of Freiburg in 1120. In the Middle Ages, Freiburg lay in the Diocese of Konstanz. In 1827 the Freiburg Minster became the seat ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Freiburg, Germany

Frankfurt Cathedral

Frankfurt Cathedral (Kaiserdom Sankt Bartholomäus, St. Bartholomew"s Imperial Cathedral) is the largest religious building in Frankfurt and a former collegiate church. As former election and coronation church of the Holy Roman Empire, the cathedral is one of the major buildings of the Empire history and was mainly in the 19th century a symbol of national unity. The present church building is the third church in ...
Founded: 1867 | Location: Frankfurt, Germany

Mainz Cathedral

Archbishop Willigis laid the foundation stone for the Mainz cathedral in 975, modelling it on old St. Peter’s in Rome. Seven coronations of kings took place in Mainz Cathedral in the course of the centuries. The new building did not, however, survive the day of its consecration in August 1009 – a fire destroyed the edifice and it was only possible to use the cathedral again in 1036. From his time dates the oldest sur ...
Founded: 975 AD | Location: Mainz, Germany

St. Hedwig's Cathedral

St. Hedwig"s Cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of Berlin. It was built in the 18th century as the first Catholic church in Prussia after the Protestant Reformation by permission of King Frederick II. The intention of Frederick was to offer the numerous Catholic immigrants who had arrived in Berlin, especially those from Upper Silesia, a place of worship. The church was therefore dedicated to the patron of Siles ...
Founded: 1773 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Bamberg Cathedral

The Bamberg Cathedral is a late Romanesque building with four imposing towers. It was founded in 1002 by the emperor Henry II, finished in 1012 and consecrated on May 6, 1012. It was later partially destroyed by fire in 1081. The new cathedral, built by St. Otto of Bamberg, was consecrated in 1111, and in the 13th century received its present late-Romanesque form. Due to its long construction process, several styles were ...
Founded: 1002-1111 | Location: Bamberg, Germany

Trier Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Peter in Trier is the oldest cathedral in Germany. The edifice is notable for its extremely long life span under multiple different eras each contributing some elements to its design, including the center of the main chapel being made of Roman brick laid under the direction of Saint Helen, resulting in a cathedral added onto gradually rather than rebuilt in different eras. Its dimensions, 112.5 by 4 ...
Founded: 4th century / 1235 | Location: Trier, Germany

Regensburg Cathedral

The Regensburg Cathedral, dedicated to St Peter, is the most important church and landmark of the city of Regensburg. It is the prime example of Gothic architecture in Bavaria. A first bishop"s church was built around 700, at the site of the present-day cathedral parish church Niedermünster (St. Erhard"s tomb). Around 739, St. Boniface chose the area of the Porta Praetoria (North Gate of the old Roman fort) for the ...
Founded: 1273 | Location: Regensburg, Germany

Stuttgart Cathedral

Stuttgart Cathedral or St Eberhard"s Cathedral has been since 1978 the co-cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, whose main cathedral is Rottenburg Cathedral. The parish dates back to the Medieval era while the current building was completed in 1955, eleven years after it was mostly destroyed by Allied air raids in 1944. Liudolf erected a small church around 950 and remnants of the old coll ...
Founded: 1955 | Location: Stuttgart, Germany

Speyer Cathedral

Speyer Cathedral was founded by Konrad II in 1030, probably soon after his imperial coronation. It was rebuilt by Henry IV, following his reconciliation with the Pope in 1077, as the first and largest consistently vaulted church building in Europe. The Cathedral was the burial place of the German emperors for almost 300 years. Speyer Cathedral is historically, artistically and architecturally one of the most significant ...
Founded: 1030 | Location: Speyer, Germany

Magdeburg Cathedral

Magdeburg Cathedral is the oldest Gothic cathedral in Germany. It is the proto-cathedral of the former Prince-Archbishopric of Magdeburg. The 100m high steeples make it one of the tallest cathedrals in eastern Germany. The cathedral is the landmark of Magdeburg and also home to the grave of Emperor Otto I the Great. The first church built in 937 at the location of the current cathedral was an abbey called St. Maurice, de ...
Founded: 1209 | Location: Magdeburg, Germany

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral is a baroque church built in 1688. Since 730, there have been many churches built on the site of the current cathedral. The current church, a baroque building around 100 metres long, was built from 1668 to 1693 after a fire in 1662 destroyed its predecessor, of which only the late gothic eastern side remains. The cathedral's overall plan was made by Carlo Lurago, its interior decoration by Giovanni ...
Founded: 1688 | Location: Passau, Germany

Münster Cathedral

Münster Cathedral stands in the heart of the city, on a small hill called Horsteberg. This area, which also contains the Domplatz and surrounding buildings, was the old Domburg. West of the cathedral lies the bishop"s palace and part of the old curia complex along with the current cathedral chapter. The cathedral had two predecessors. The first cathedral (called the Ludgerus Dom, 805-1377) stood to the north of ...
Founded: 1192-1264 | Location: Münster, Germany

Würzburg Cathedral

Würzburg Cathedral is the fourth largest Romanesque church building in Germany, and a masterpiece of German architecture from the Salian period. The present cathedral, built from 1040 onwards by Bishop Bruno of Würzburg, reckoned to be the fourth largest Romanesque basilica in Germany, is the third church on the site: the previous two, built in about 787 and 855, were respectively destroyed and severely damaged by fire ...
Founded: 1040 | Location: Würzburg, Germany

Erfurt Cathedral

Erfurt Cathedral, dedicated to St. Mary, is a late Gothic cathedral which replaced the church built on this site for Bishop Boniface in 742. Martin Luther was ordained in the cathedral in 1507. The architecture of the Erfurt Cathedral is mainly Gothic and stems from around the 14th and 15th centuries. There are many things of note as far as the architecture is concerned, not least the stained glass windows and furnishing ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Erfurt, Germany

Worms Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Peter (Wormser Dom, Worms Cathedral) is a basilica with four round towers, two large domes, and a choir at each end. The interior is built in red sandstone. Today, the Wormser Dom is a Catholic parish church, honoured with the title of 'Minor Basilica'. Only the ground plan and the lower part of the western towers belong to the original building consecrated in 1110. The remainder was mostly ...
Founded: 1110 | Location: Worms, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.