Twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.