The Bonn Minster (Bonner Münster) is one of Germany's oldest churches, having been built between the 11th and 13th centuries. At one point the church served as the cathedral for the Archbishopric of Cologne.
Castra Bonnensia was a fortress on the site of current Bonn built by the Romans in the 1st century AD. It survived the breakup of the Roman Empire as a civilian settlement, and in the 9th century it became the Frankish town of Bonnburg.
Around 235 AD, two Christian Roman soldiers stationed in Castra Bonnensia, Cassius and Florentius, were martyred for their faith. Tradition has it that a small memorial shrine was built over their graves in the 4th century by St. Helen, mother of Constantine. There is no surviving evidence of this first structure, but archaeological excavations have shown that the basilica stands on the site of a Roman temple and necropolis.
The original memorial hall was expanded into a larger church in the 6th and 7th centuries, and many people were buried near the martyrs inside and outside the building. Further extensions were carried out in the 8th century.
Around 1050 the church was demolished and construction began on the present Romanesque building, which dates from the 11th to 13th centuries. By the end of this period Bonn had grown in importance, becoming the capital of the Electorate and Archbishopric of Cologne, which was then a sovereign state. The new basilica appeared in the city's coat of arms. In 1643, Cassius and Florentius were officially declared the patron saints of the city of Bonn.
The basilica suffered significant damage in 1583-89, 1689, and in World War II, but each time it was fully restored. In 1956, the Bonner Münster was granted the status of Papal Minor Basilica.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).