The current Roma church was preceded by a considerably smaller, Romanesque church. Some fragments from this church have been re-used and incorporated in the façade of the later church. The still extant sacristy is also a remnant of this earlier church.
The earlier church was torn down and successively replaced with Gothic style building between 1215 and 1255. Dendrochronological examinations have shown that the latest additions were made in 1280. The nave and choir seem to have been erected during a single period of construction, possibly with the exception for the westernmost part of the nave, which is slightly different in style. A tower was evidently planned for the church but never executed. Influences for the somewhat unusual architecture may have come from nearby Roma Abbey and thus the traditions of Cistercian architecture. The church has remained largely unaltered since the Middle Ages. The large western rose window was however added in the 1880s.
The church seems to have had a special function. It was built close to the location of the thing of all of Gotland, and not far from a Cistercian monastery, Roma Abbey. Unlike a regular church, it had five entrances (instead of three) and its architecture differs from other churches on Gotland. The likeness of the church with that of the Dominicans in Visby (now ruined) is noticeable. There is therefore reason to believe that the church may have been used by the Dominicans, possibly to preach for crusades against non-Christians in what is today the Baltic states.
The interior is characterised by the renovation in Neo-Gothic style from 1902. The interior is relatively dark, and few medieval furnishings survive. The altarpiece and the pews date from 1902. An older altarpiece has been transferred to one of the nave walls; it dates from 1656. A few medieval tombstones are displayed in the church, and the baptismal font is also medieval. Dating from the 13th century, it has no equivalents on Gotland but has more in common with baptismal fonts from Småland and Östergötland from the time.
In the cemetery, there is a bell tower in which three bells hang. Before 1929, these bells belonged to the Swedish-speaking minority village of Gammalsvenskby in Ukraine.References:
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.