Basilica of St. Ursula

Cologne, Germany

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 Goldene Kammer, of the church contains the alleged remains of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins who are said to have been killed by the Huns, possibly around the time of the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains. The original legend said only 11 virgins accompanied St. Ursula but the number grew over time, eventually to 11,000. The walls of the Golden Chamber are covered in bones arranged in designs and/or letters along with relic skulls. The exact number of people whose remains are in the Golden Chamber remains ambiguous but the number of skulls in the reliquary is greater than 11 and less than 11,000. These remains were found in 1106 in a mass grave and were assumed to be those of the legend of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. Therefore, the church constructed the Golden Chamber to house the bones. The bones themselves are neatly arranged in 'zigzags and swirls and even in the shapes of Latin words.'



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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Salian Dynasty (Germany)

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

eric anderson (15 months ago)
Apparently the church is closed on Monday. So if you are visiting and want to visit the Golden Chamber you cannot. This was one of the highlights I was looking forward too. The hours online are incorrect. You can only step inside the church and then there is a gate. There literally was no one inside.
Caroline Caruana (17 months ago)
English Mass on Sunday at 12.30 was wonderful, beautiful music.
Kharuna Ramrukheea (18 months ago)
It was interesting to see the chapel with the bones. The church is small and cosy. But the chapel makes it wirth a visit.
Deborah Maynard (18 months ago)
Beautiful church which is known for the bone room. I got in on a Friday at 3:30 p.m. I tried the previous Monday at 10:30-11:30 and could not get in. The lady there would not speak English to me but after my many questions she gave me a book in English of which I photographed the pages to help future English speaking visitors enjoy this strange but unique place.
Justin Taylor (2 years ago)
Beautiful from what we could see. Problem is that no one from the church was there to let us in to see the golden chamber (bone room). We came earlier in the day and realized they had specific hours for the room. We came back during the open hours and no one was there. We then went outside and waited for 15 more minutes and still no one was inside. What a waste of time. I understand that things come up and people can’t commit to their obligations but from what I’ve read this is a common issue. Haven’t the nuns realized a church needs money to survive. At 2€ per person to enter the chamber they are missing out. About 10 other visitors also were discouraged and left while we were there. Real shame!
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