The Cathedral is the heart of the City of Cologne and according to a poll on the web city portal meinestadt.de Germany's most poular sight. It forms the centre and provides the measure for everything else. 144 metres long, 86 metres wide and with 157-metre-tall spires. It stands on a flat-topped hill that has been a place of worship since the beginning of the city's history.
Excavations on the site have uncovered remains of a Roman heathen temple, but also traces of an early Christian church, which was probably extended in the 6th century and replaced by a Carolingian Cathedral in the 9th century.
The relics of the Three Magi, brought to Cologne in1146 by Archbishop Reinald von Dassel, attracted pilgrims from many countries to Cologne. In the mid-13th century, therefore, the cathedral chapter resolved to build a cathedral in the style of the French High Gothic as a sepulchral church. On August 15th1248, Archbishop Konrad of Hochstaden laid the foundation stone. By1320, the choir, including all the interior furnishing and decoration, was complete. Before the consecration of the choir in1322, the completed section was closed off by a temporary wall.
In1560, when the construction was halted, the following had been completed: St. Peter's portal adorned with statues, the southern nave built roughly up to the capital height and provided with a roof, the southern spire including its second storey with bell chamber, seven vaults in the northern side aisle with stained-glass Renaissance windows. The rest of the nave and part of the transept were provided with roofs, allowing almost the total area of the Cathedral to be used for ecclesiastical purposes. For over 300 years, the city panorama was dominated by the mighty torso with a lofty crane on the uncompleted southern spire.
Then, at the beginning of the 19th century, an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm for the Middle Ages swept across Europe bringing with it the Neo-Gothic style. The unfinished Cathedral became the symbol of German art. In1842, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV laid the foundation stone for the resumption of construction. In1880, the great enterprise was concluded at a cost of 27 million marks, faithfully following the original plans of the 13th century master builder.
The interior sights include the golden shrine of the three Magi (around 1200), the Gero crucifix, the first monumental crucifix in Northern Europe (before 1000) and the altar painting of the city‘s patron saints by Stephan Lochner (around 1450). Besides the medieval stained glass windows since August 2007 a new Cathedral window by Gerhard Richter can be visited. Additionally there are the carved choir stalls and choir screen paintings from the 14th century and since 1998 the »Swallow‘s nest« organ in the central nave which weighs around 30 tons.
...more about Guided tours