Photo by: Marita Plez
A visit to Cologne isn’t complete without a trip to one of the most popular destinations in the world, the Cologne Cathedral.
Here at germany-travel, we aim to cover must-see destinations and activities in various German cities. Unshockingly, given the country’s historical connection with religion, we’ve covered a few churches (see: our post on Dresden). But the Cologne Cathedral perhaps takes the helm of all religious destinations, at least architecturally speaking.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is today the the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and the home to the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne, is the most visited German destination, attracting around 20,000 visitors per day. Today, the Cologne Cathedral has evolved from a testament of the enduring legacy of Roman Catholicism to one of the world’s most popular destinations.
The High Gothic masterpiece is a five-aisled basilica, with a projecting transept and a two-tower facade. The construction, despite spanning over six centuries, is still completely unified. Among the constructural elements found in the Cologne Cathedral are the painted choir screens (1332-40), carved-oak choir stalls (1308-11), enormous stained-glass windows dating back to the 14th century, and an impressive collection of tombs of 12 archbishops, between 976 and 1612.
While the construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248, it was only completed in 1880 after 632 years and two months. Construction was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished for centuries, and was only restarted in the 19th century. The Cathedral also wasn’t spared by the Second World War II. It was severely damaged by air-raids, reduced to a state no fewer than fourteen bombs are capable of achieving, only to be completely restored in 1956. It is said that the Cathedral was spared total destruction for its majestic twin spires, which were used by the Allied air forces as a navigational landmark.
Even in the 13th century, the Cologne Cathedral was already hailed as “the mother and master of all churches in Germany”. Today, one can experience still the same. Visit the Cathedral from November to April between 6am and 7:30pm, and from May to October between 6am and 9pm. If you want to see the great views of Cologne, climb the Cathedral’s majestic tower for only 3€, and hear its tolling bell. Other cathedral visits, price listings and opening hours can be found here.
We don’t say “best” loosely here on germany-travel, but trust us when we say that a visit to the Cologne Cathedral is not just one of the best things to do in Cologne, but one of the best things to do in Germany.