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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Mary said 9 months ago
When are Saturday and Sunday Masses held?


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

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User Reviews

Robert Simpson (11 months 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.
Jay H (14 months ago)
What a boney business! Really interesting, a bit chilling, but an altogether quite enjoyable experience! (Admission cost: 2€; the actual "boney stuff" is on the right hand side after you enter the church)
macedonboy (2 years ago)
The Basilica church of St. Ursula is a minor basilica and one that's associated with the legend of St. Ursula and the 11,000 martyred virgins. The church is supposedly built on the burial grounds of these legendary ladies. The church also has a chamber with a reliquary said to be the bones of some of these martyrs. The church is an attractive Romanesque style building with some interesting contemporary stained glass windows. The balconies over the nave have pretty Romana arches and interestingly, statues underneath each arch. The church is located in north west of Central Cologne and off the main tourist circuit. Worth a visit if you have the time. If you spot the church from afar, be sure to look up at the church spire topped with a crown.
cottongrass (2 years ago)
Amazing collection of bones. The Church itself is lovely but not outstanding. The physical remains of ursula and her virgin friends is astonishing. We had to ask to see it and a woman unlocked the room for us. Its extraordinary. The human bones are arranged like a mosaic on the wall and the faces of the saints show the characters of real people. Well worth a visit.
Staci Monroe (2 years ago)
The history in Köln amazes me and St Ursula is one of the most unique places we went to while living in Köln. I wish they had more visiting hours for the bone room as we returned 5 times and only saw the room opened to guests once. It is for sure, worth going to. Sad history of the room, but amazing to see. Go here, you won’t regret it.
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