As historical landmark, this massive cathedral towers over the city of Cologne. Its construction took place from the 13th through 19th centuries and is a wonderful example of Gothic architecture. Fortunately, the Cathedral remained largely undamaged after World War II.
If you arrive in Cologne by train, the first thing you will see when you leave the station is the Dom. This one is particularly famous for a number of reasons, the most recent probably was the fact that the Cathedral was still standing after the merciless bombing that was suffered by the City in WWII. It took 14 hits but still didn't fall. It was restored by 1956.
The Dom is also known for having the largest facade of any cathedral in the world. It stole this honour from the Cathedral of Strasbourg in the 13th century andwas for a long time the world's tallest building.
Significant features include the reliquary of the Maji (Wise Men) and the beautiful altar of the Jewelled Madonna. The statue features Mary and Child but the robes are completely covered in items of jewellery and precious stones which have been given as gifts over the centuries.
Apart from the shrine of the three wise kings,which everybody tries to get a glimpse of, there is so much more to see in the cathedral.
Whenever I'm in Cologne I step into the cathedral and discover some new detail I haven't seen before. This time I decided to really look at the carvings on the benches, aren't they beautiful? Since it's so dark inside the cathedral, I had to use flash and could only see most details later at home on the computer. My favourites are the reading boy and the reading woman, but I also like the little devil very much.
The cathedral is probably the most centrally located sight in the world from the point of view of train travellers. It is situated next to the central station. Even if you have no more than half an hour between changing trains, this is enough to leave the station and have a quick look around and into the cathedral.
Writing another tip on Cologne Cathedral is, in fact, needless – this is the number one reason why people come and visit. Anyway, a few remarks may be allowed.
Although many people consider it the prototype of a medieval church, large parts of this building have only been erected in the 19th century. The middle ages were unable to complete the ambitious project, just like many other cathedrals. The plague and political unrest of the 14th century set an end to construction works of such dimensions. The choir was completed, parts of the transepts and the lower part of the nave and the foundations of the steeples. The cathedral remained a torso until 1842. In those times it became something like a “national monument” of the awakening German nation (which was not yet a united state) and promoted by the Prussian king. Donations from all over the country enabled its completion, which was only finished in 1880. For the steeples, unique and invaluable sources were available: medieval construction plans, after which the two spires were finally built just the way the medieval architect had planned them 500 years earlier.
Since the 4th century Cologne has been the seat of a bishop. The Archbishop of Cologne used to be one of the seven Electors, the chancellor of the Empire and one of the most powerful princes from the middle ages till the end of the old Empire in 1806.
If the weather and the state of your legs allow and you feel like some exercise, climb the steeple.
Cologne Cathedral is a World Heritage Site and is one of the best known architectural monuments in Germany and Cologne's most famous. It is 144.5 metres long, 86.5 m wide and its two towers are 157 m tall. The Cathedral (German: Kölner Dom, officially Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria) is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne, under the administration of the Roman Catholic Church and is renowned as a monument of Christianity, of Gothic architecture and of the faith and perseverance of the people of the city in which it stands. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is one of the world's largest churches and the largest Gothic Church in Northern Europe. It was the tallest structure in the world from 1880-1884 until the construction of the Washington Monument. It possessed the second-tallest church spires only surpassed by the single spire of Ulm Cathedral completed in 1890. It holds the position of the largest facade of any church in the world. The church construction began in 1248 and took over 600 years to construct when it was finalized in 1880. It was built atop a grain store that was succeeded by a Roman Temple built by Mercurius Augustus which was followed by 4th century Christian buildings including a square edifice that was commissioned by Maternus as the oldest cathedral at that time. In 1164 the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel acquired relics of the Three Kings which had been taken from Milan in Italy by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa and were properly housed on this spot. The foundation stones laid on August 15, 1248. When construction stopped in the 1800's, it wasn't until 1842 that a civic effort raised two thirds of the enormous costs to resume work on the original design of the surviving medieval plans and drawings and the bells were installed in the 1870s. The completion in 1880 was celebrated as a national event, 632 years after construction began. The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II. It did not collapse, but stood tall in an otherwise flattened city. Believers said it was divine intervention. In June 1945, the cathedral was abused as a rifle range by American troops. The repairs to the building were completed in 1956. On August 25, 2007, the cathedral received a new stained glass in the south transept window. With 113 square metres of glass, the window was created by the German artist Gerhard Richter. In 1996, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites. In 2004 it was placed on the "World Heritage in Danger" list due to nearby high-rise building and its visual impact upon the site, as the only Western site in danger. The cathedral was removed from the List of In Danger Sites in 2006, following the authorities' decision to limit the heights of buildings constructed near and around the cathedral. The cathedral is open every day from 6.00am to 7.30pm; admission is free except for tower ascent and the treasury. Visitors can climb 509 steps of the spiral staircase to a viewing platform about 98 metres above the ground. [abstracted from Wikipedia and the Cathedral's information pamphlets : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cologne_Cathedral]
The Dom is the largest Gothic-style Cathedral in the world. Its huge towers stand 147 meters (515 feet) tall, making them the tallest in the world when they were completed in 1880. Construction had begun in 1248, making this a really long-term project. The work had been interrupted several times.
The cathedral contains the holy relics of the Magi (the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus in the New Testament). Another gem is the Cross of Gero, the oldest surviving monumental crucifix in northern Europe, carved in 976.
While Allied bombing devastated the city in World War II (one raid involved over a thousand planes), the cathedral escaped with only minor damage. This is one of the very few pre-war buildings still standing in Cologne.
If you hike up to the stairs to the viewing platform, 312 feet above street level, you'll be treated to a fine view of the city and the Rhine River.
The Dome of Cologne, which was built in the period from 1248 until 1880, is known as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. In its whole period of construction the original architect’s drawings had never been changed.
Up until its completion in the 19th century, the cathedral was the biggest building in the world. The draft of the western façade broke all conventions: as the biggest church façade of the world it was supposed to have a surface of 7,000 m² flanked by two powerful towers with a height of 156 metres each.
In 1996, it was included in the list of the UNESCO world cultural heritage.
The southern tower of the Dom is accessible - after you have managed roughly 500 stairs or so, you have a nice view on Cologne and the Rhine. What`s best is that the view on some of the Romanic Churches close to the Cathedral is less obstructed than from the ground and one can admire their fine architecture even better from above. Please mind: No elevator.
The Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture. Construction of the cathedral began in 1248 -- and it was not completed until 1880.
With this tip, I have included the link to the Wikipedia entry that provides the dimensions and other relevant facts about the Cathedral. To really appreciate this magnificent structure, though, you need to see it in person.
The Kolner Dom could quite possibly be the most visible landmark in Koln. Of all the religious structures in my recent visit to Europe this cathedral matched and sometimes exceeded its counterparts in details and intricacies. Should you possess the energy, pay the nominal fee, climb to the top via the spiral staircase view the city.
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