Cologne Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I had prior knowledge that it was the world’s largest gothic cathedral, but when I actually saw it in front of me, I was overwhelmed by its size, which was beyond my imagination.
Of course, it’s not just the size that is so fascinating, but also the detailed workmanship and the beauty of the stained glass that makes it impossible to appreciate in just one visit.
I can’t tell you all the charms of Cologne Cathedral, but I would like to share with you its history and the fascinating stained glass windows.
- Cologne Cathedral
- Stained Glass and Exhibits
- ①Bavarian window
- ①The Adoration window 1846
- ①The Lamentation window
- ②Inside wall of the south transept
- ③Window of the South Transept
- ④St Agilulfus altar-piece
- ⑤Altar of the City Patrons
- ⑥Shrine of the Magi
- ⑦The St Agnes window
- ⑧Neo-Gothic furnishings of the axial chapel
- ⑨Crucifixion Altar
- ⑩Gero Crucifix
- ⑪The plan of the floor mosaic
- ⑫Magi Altar
- ⑬The Nativity of Christ window
- ⑭St. Peter and Jesse’s Window
Address： Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
Opening hours: 06:00~21:00 (May~October) 06:00~19:30 (November~April)
313 A.D. The first Christian cathedral is said to have stood on the same site as the present cathedral.
(There is no architectural evidence to prove it.)
Architectural evidence appears around the 6th century.
The cathedral in the year 800 looked different from what it is today.
In 1248 Archbishop Conrad of Hochstaden laid the foundation stone for the present cathedral.
The construction of the cathedral began with the model of modern French architecture, the Cathedral of Amiens and the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
The chapel was completed around 1265, the first in Gothic architecture.
After 1520, construction was halted, and in 1794, it was occupied by French troops.
In 1842, Frederick William IV of Prussia laid the first foundation stone to complete the cathedral, which had been abandoned for over 300 years.
Not only the king, but also many Cologne citizens donated large sums of money for the completion of the cathedral.
When the cathedral was completed in 1880, the two towers were over 157 meters high, making it the tallest building in the world at the time.
In 1945, the city was severely damaged by World War II, but the medieval artworks escaped the devastation.
1996 Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
SOURCE：Kölner Dom History
Cologne Cathedral seen from the station.
This is the north side.
I had heard that there was a cathedral right in front of me when I got out of Cologne Central Station.
In fact, when I got out of the station, I saw a huge Gothic cathedral in front of me.
I have seen a lot of churches in my life, but this is the most impressive.
The view changes considerably depending on the time of day, but the overwhelming sense of presence remains the same.
Also, in the afternoon, it gets crowded with many people as you can see in the picture, so it might be better to take pictures in the morning.
The entrance to the cathedral is on the west side.
After exiting the station, walk towards the cathedral and keep going to the right.
The rounded, triangular wall section is called the tympanum.
It is a must-see for its Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Cologne Cathedral is a stunning decoration.
It’s quite a sight from the entrance.
This is the back side, the south side, coming from the station.
Unlike the front, there are fewer people here.
Of course, in the afternoon, it is overflowing with people.
There is also a gift store at the south entrance behind the building.
If you are looking for a souvenir, please stop by and take a look.
The interior of Cologne Cathedral has an amazingly high ceiling, and the vaulted ceiling adds to its beauty and majesty.
Inside the cathedral, there are many works of historical value.
Time flies when you are looking at them one by one.
From among these many valuable works, I would like to introduce some of the most representative ones.
Stained Glass and Exhibits
This is a schematic of the inside of the cathedral.
The entrance is at the front, and the number below contrasts with the location of the artwork.
Please refer to it when sightseeing.
It was donated by King Ludwig I in 1842.
It depicts a story about Christianity.
①The Adoration window 1846
The stained glass in the middle of the picture.
The scene depicted here is that of the Annunciation of the birth of Christ.
It is hidden by a pillar, but three figures are depicted in the second split from the left.
One is kneeling and two are standing, holding gifts.
These three men are the Three Doctors of the East, and they have become very important figures in Cologne Cathedral.
It is said that the relics of these three men are housed in a golden casket.
①The Lamentation window
It depicts the Virgin Mary holding Jesus as he is taken down from the cross.
On it is a scene from the Last Supper.
In the lower window area, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are also depicted.
②Inside wall of the south transept
It was designed by architect Ernst Friedrich Zwirner and completed in 1847.
In two sections, the upper and lower, the lower section depicts Saints Benedict, Dominic, Francis, Bruno, Ignatius of Loyola, and Teresa.
They are also all founders of congregations.
The upper part depicts an angel holding a flag.
There is a small painting on both sides of the door at the bottom of the front of the photo.
On the left is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1855, and on the right is the Annunciation.
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary in 1855, painted by artist Friedrich Overbeck, depicts the Virgin Mary in heaven surrounded by eight angels.
The Annunciation was donated by Petrus Bequerer in 1712.
③Window of the South Transept
Gerhard Richter(considered to be Germany’s greatest painter) created this window to replace the stained glass that was destroyed after World War II.
The work was finally completed in 2007.
A specially developed computer was used to determine the placement of the colors.
④St Agilulfus altar-piece
It is said to have been built around 1520 and moved to the cathedral in 1817.
⑤Altar of the City Patrons
This work was created around 1442 by Cologne-based artist Stefan Lochner.
This one is used for the daily liturgy.
⑥Shrine of the Magi
The Magi’s coffins are very valuable historically and artistically.
It was produced from 1190 to 1220.
The decoration is very ornate and consists of gold and silver embossed and gilded figures, panels of precious and semi-precious stones, intaglio and cameo carvings, and columns and arches decorated with enamels.
The subjects depicted are in line with the Bible, from the nativity to the final judgment and the scene of salvation.
⑦The St Agnes window
On the right side of the picture is the St. Agnes window, and on the left is the St. Cunibert window.
⑧Neo-Gothic furnishings of the axial chapel
After the mausoleum was demolished in 1892, it was painted by the church painter Friedrich Stummel.
It is said to have been carved around 1500 in a workshop in Middle Rhine.
Donated by Archbishop Gero around 970.
This wooden cross is said to have stood in the center of the old cathedral.
⑪The plan of the floor mosaic
The 1,350 square meter floor mosaic, completed in 1899, is the largest work of art in the cathedral.
The company is also famous for using products from Villeroy & Boch.
The altar was created by Heribert Neuss between 1668 and 1683.
The materials used were black marble and pale alabaster.
It was dismantled in 1889 and, after some modifications, was used as an altar in 1920.
⑬The Nativity of Christ window
The window in the middle of the picture is the nativity window.
It depicts Christ being worshipped by angels and shepherds, with Moses in the upper left corner.
The window on the right is The Magi window.
⑭St. Peter and Jesse’s Window
This window, donated in 1509, depicts something related to St. Peter.
Cologne Cathedral is said to be the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and its size is first of all overwhelming.
And because of its size, it can be seen from many different places.
In addition to the works introduced here, there are many other things to see inside the museum, and if you go through them one by one, it may take you quite a while.
But I think it’s more than worth the time.
And finally, when photographing the cathedral, there is actually a very big problem.
This means that the entire cathedral cannot be captured in a photo with a smartphone camera.
It is very convenient to have the cathedral right in front of Cologne Central Station, but it is too big to take a good picture of the whole building from in front of the station.
The west entrance is even closer, and no matter how I try, I can’t capture it in a photo.
The only possibility is to take a picture from the south side, but even from here, I managed to get a picture by shooting a little farther away from the cathedral.
It’s not easy to take good pictures, but there is one spot that I personally recommend.
It is in the vicinity of the Wasserspielplatz in der Altstadt, a park along the Rhine River.
If you take pictures from this area, you can get a good balance of the cathedral without being obstructed by large buildings.
You can also take beautiful pictures of the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine River, so I think it is worth a visit.
Please stop by if you have time.
Thank you again for reading to the end of this article.
You can learn more about sightseeing in Cologne, a day trip from Paris, here.