Cologne Cathedral

Cologne, Germany

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 by a spirit of absolute fidelity to the original plans. Apart from its exceptional intrinsic value and the artistic masterpieces it contains, Cologne Cathedral bears witness to the strength and endurance of European Christianity. No other Cathedral is so perfectly conceived, so uniformly and uncompromisingly executed in all its parts.

Cologne Cathedral is a High Gothic five-aisled basilica, with a projecting transept and a tower façade. The nave is 43.58 m high and the side-aisles 19.80 m. The western section, nave and transept begun in 1330, changes in style, but this is not perceptible in the overall building. The 19th century work follows the medieval forms and techniques faithfully, as can be seen by comparing it with the original medieval plan on parchment.

The original liturgical appointments of the choir are still extant to a considerable degree. These include the high altar with an enormous monolithic slab of black limestone, believed to be the largest in any Christian church, the carved oak choir stalls (1308-11), the painted choir screens (1332-40), the fourteen statues on the pillars in the choir (c. 1300), and the great cycle of stained-glass windows, the largest existent cycle of early 14th century windows in Europe. There is also an outstanding series of tombs of twelve archbishops between 976 and 1612.

Of the many works of art in the Cathedral, special mention should be made to the Gero Crucifix of the late 10th century, in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which was transferred from the pre-Romanesque predecessor of the present Cathedral, and the Shrine of the Magi (1180-1225), in the choir, which is the largest reliquary shrine in Europe. Other artistic masterpieces are the altarpiece of St. Clare (c. 1350-1400) in the north aisle, brought here in 1811 from the destroyed cloister church of the Franciscan nuns, the altarpiece of the City Patrons by Stephan Lochner (c. 1445) in the Chapel of Our Lady, and the altarpiece of St. Agilolphus (c. 1520) in the south transept.

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Address

Domkloster 4, Cologne, Germany
See all sites in Cologne

Details

Founded: 1248
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Timothy Cheah (20 months ago)
The cathedral in Cologne is a magnificent Gothic architecture that sits in the heart of the city. The artifacts and interior details contribute to the beauty of the building. I got the chance to climb 533 spiral stairs to the top of the spire. The view from the top of the tower is worth the small fee of €3. The tower also houses numerous magnificent bells with a great history. I highly recommend visiting the cathedral
Ernesto Chávez Féison (20 months ago)
Very few constructions are as singular as this is, it is huge from the outside and beautiful if you are a gothic style enthusiast. Yet getting in, it is a massively breathtaking experience, the enormous high spaces, stained windows, colossal columns are marvelous… it is a staggering experience; architects that designed it were genuine geniuses. I have been twice in this cathedral yet if I have the opportunity to come back once more, I will.
Nicholas Foo (21 months ago)
Lovely architecture, and a very important monument to German history, right from the Holy Roman Empire. Staff were welcoming, which I cannot always say for touristy cathedrals in Europe. There is actually the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel at the back. The Rosary and evening Mass is celebrated there each evening at 6pm.
krishna narayan (21 months ago)
Such an ancient and magnificent edifice, so ideal in accessibility and atmosphere. Imagine the Cologne central station being near, it is actually the next neighbour of the cathedral. The Rhine river is nearby and the famous museum is in the same complex. Also, with a grand old McDonald's, the visit is well enabled. The cathedral itself is maintained with the love and care it deserves. The visitors are also treated with unobtrusive courtesy at the same time exercising an unobstructed watch over maintenance of the dignity and reverence of the sacred place. It is a visit of a lifetime of memories of the antiquity and majesty of the divine space. Aspire to visit at least once.
218053 MOHANRAJ P (2 years ago)
Great cathedral. Maintained for centuries is a real wonder. Spending lot of money to maintain the place is admirable. Lot of shopping options around the place. Good connectivity by rail and bus station is a big plus in walkable distance. Truly historical.
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The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

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Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.