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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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

MATTHEW CADMAN (14 months ago)
Beautiful Church with a great background, lovely stations of the cross paintings and very impressively creepy chapel (bones x million). The Church's guardians are lovely and eager to tell of the Ursula legend. The Google times are wrong though. The metal rood screen is closed at 4 not 5, so you can't look all around if you're a little late.
Jan Smith (2 years ago)
Beautiful church with amazing front doors
Mick Pelling (2 years ago)
To be fair, I only visited the church to see the Golden Chamber, a lady unlocked the door, and took some time to explain about St Ursula, and her demise, together with 11,000 virgins, whose bones are on display. There are containers with skulls, and that of St Ursula is marked with red material. An interesting sight to see and wonder about. Cost 2 euros.
Daniela Letichevskaya (3 years ago)
Amazing place!!! Really worthpassing by and support their cause. An internal staff member gave us a beautiful touraround the golden chamber and gave me a lot of presents as St. Ursula is known by being a powerful symbol for the feminist cause.
Robert Simpson (4 years ago)
Ask to see the bone room. Very interesting. Great mythology. The story of how she and the 11/1100/11000 maidens saved Cologne from Attila. Her tears are on the city crest.
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