Cologne Cathedral history

cologne cathedralCologne Cathedral has a long history. As one can imagine, the wonderful Cologne Cathedral wasn’t created over a night. The construction of Cologne Cathedral began in year 1248, when the foundation stone way laid by the reigning Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden.  The eastern part of Cologne Cathedral was consecrated 1322 and a temporary wall towards the western part was set up.

This was a common method when building larger churches, as it allowed the main hall of the church to be used even though the façade hadn’t been completed. In mid 14th century, construction of the western part and the façade began.

This work was halted 1473, which left the south tower halfway done with the construction crane still left on top. This became somewhat of a landmark for Cologne and remained for another 400 years.


cologne cathedral spiresWork on the façade began again in 1842, when the original plans were rediscovered and money was raised by the Prussian state and the people in a joint effort. The total cost of this last part of the construction phase is estimated to an equivalent of 1 billion dollars. Cologne Cathedral was completed 1880 and celebrated as a national event under the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm I.


During the Second World War, Cologne Cathedral was hit during allied bomb raids. Cologne Cathedral survived the bombing but became surrounded by a city in ruins.  After the war, Cologne Cathedral underwent major reparations, which finished 1956.

Smaller repairs and maintenance work is continuously being performed. While the repair works and the maintenance is staying true to the original architecture of the cathedral, it saw a change in 2007 when the glass in the south transept window was changed.

The original window had been blown out during the Second World War, and had till 2007 been temporary replaced with plain glass. Today, the space is filled with a colorful pixel-based window which has been designed using a computer. The chosen design did however cause much controversy; for example the Archbishop of the cathedral himself did not attend the unveiling of the new window as an act of protest

Why visit Cologne Cathedral ?

The mighty Cologne Cathedral is one of the world’s largest churches. Cologne Cathedral, or Kölner Dom as it is known in German, has been classified as a world heritage site with the motivation that it is an “exceptional work of human creative genius.” When looking upon Cologne Cathedral, it is pretty easy to accept that motivation.

Impressive numbers

Cologne Cathedral was actually the tallest building in the world once it was completed, but only remained so for four years, until the Washington Monument was raised and beat it by four meters. However, Cologne Cathedral can still today boast about having the largest church façade in the world and being the tallest gothic building in the world.

Cologne Cathedral also houses the largest functioning free-swinging church bell in the world; the St. Peters Bell, which weighs a massive 24 ton. The interior of the cathedral is also massive; the space inside is the equivalent to over six hundred houses.

When looking at Cologne Cathedral, one thing is pretty evident; the towers, the pillars and all decorations on the cathedral all point upwards – towards the sky. This is a symbol for trying to reach up to heaven, which is a typical sign of Gothic architecture. Another typical sign of gothic cathedral architecture is that when looking at the cathedral from above, it forms the shape of a catholic cross.

Gold glimmering

Cologne Cathedral was raised in dedication to Saint Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another main reason for constructing this massive building was to house “the Sarcophagus of the Magi”. This great sarcophagus is from the 13th century and is thought to hold the remains of the three wise men. It is considered to be the largest reliquary in the western world.


Visitors to Cologne Cathedral cal also climb a spiral staircase up to a viewing platform, about 98 meters above the ground. While it takes some time to get up, it provides a magnificent view over the region.

Cologne Cathedral location

Cologne Cathedral is located in Cologne, Germany. The cathedral is situated in central parts of the city, right next to the river Rhein. The cathedral is easily accessible by foot or by taking the subway to the station Dom/Hbf. For the exact location of Cologne Cathedral, check out the location map to the right.

Cologne Cathedral Video

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