Cologne Cathedral. Church in Cologne, Germany

Cologne Cathedral

Church in Cologne, Germany

Cologne Cathedral Photo © Frank Kehren

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Cologne Cathedral

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Cologne Cathedral - Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral - Cologne Cathedral. Photo by A_Peach
Cologne Cathedral is one of most visited landmarks in Germany. Situated near the banks of the river Rhine (Wikipedia Article) and the most visible landmark of the city of Cologne, the cathedral is the seat of Roman Catholicism and a renowned Gothic monument. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Peter and the Virgin Mary.

It took more than 600 years for the cathedral to be completed. At the time of completion, Cologne Cathedral was the tallest building in the world. At 157.31 meters, its two spires are the tallest twin towers in the world. During World War II, the cathedral was hit fourteen times by huge aerial bombs and was said to be used as a navigational landmark by Allied Forces in their air raids in Germany.

Cologne Cathedral became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Cologne Cathedral and the Hohenzollern
	Bridge - Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral and the Hohenzollern Bridge. Photo by Jiuguang Wang

Visiting the Cathedral

You really can’t miss Cologne Cathedral. It is easily the tallest structure in Cologne, its spires are visible for miles. Many tourists use the cathedral to orient themselves while exploring the old city. And up close, you’ll be in awe of the sheer presence of the Gothic structure. The façade of the building is truly a work of art. Never mind if you aren’t Catholic, the cathedral’s many sculptures decorating the outside walls are just incredible.

Flight over
	Cologne - Cologne Cathedral
Flight over Cologne - Cologne Cathedral. Photo by Neuwieser
Cologne Cathedral hosts one of the biggest Christmas markets in Cologne on their doorsteps. It started in the 1990s and has become one of the biggest draws of the city. Arts, crafts and food, displayed in gaily decorated and (at night) lit stalls, tempt visitors to splurge.

Inside, the cathedral is solemn and quiet. A huge statue of St. Christopher. perched in front of a pillar, greets the faithful and the curious. The interior of the cathedral is just as impressive, with high ceilings and tall arches lining the way to the altar. Light from the stained glass windows on either side of the church enhances its grandeur. Patron saints of the cathedral, the Three Kings, St. Peter and the Virgin Mary, among others, are illuminated in the stained glass windows from the sunny day outside. A more modern stained glass window on the south side of the cathedral is a recent replacement. Looking like a huge pixelated abstract work of art, it was made by German artist Gerhard Richter and it is the odd one out of the usual biblical theme of most stained glass windows in churches.

Kolner Dom - Cologne
Kolner Dom - Cologne Cathedral. Photo by Adam Lerner

Shrine of the Three Kings -
	Cologne Cathedral
Shrine of the Three Kings - Cologne Cathedral. Photo by maduarte
Cologne Cathedral holds many treasures insides its walls. The most precious treasure of which is the Shrine of the Three Kings. It is a huge golden sarcophagus holds the relics of the Three Wise Men and sits above the high altar as a focal point, encased behind protective glass. It is shaped like a small church and decorated ornately with figures in relief. The tall, stained, glass windows behind the altar make the whole altar even grander with the light streaming in. The high altar, also decorated with sculptures, is blocked off with an iron gate so it is best to bring cameras in order to get a closer look at the shine. The Shrine of the Three Kings has been in Cologne Cathedral since 1864.

Climbing the Tower

Part of the attraction of visiting Cologne Cathedral is climbing to the top of the South Tower. Entrance to the South Tower is outside the cathedral. It costs €4 ($4.60) to climb the 533 steps to the observation deck at the base of the ornate cone that holds up the spire. The staircase is narrow, with only two people at most being able to climb side by side; it is a bit claustrophobic at times and seemingly endless.

Cologne Cathedral Nave - Cologne
Cologne Cathedral Nave. Photo by Miles Berry

	Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral.
Halfway up, you pass the belfry, where among its smaller companions, hangs St. Petersglocke (Wikipedia Article). St. Petersglocke only rings during special occasions like Easter or Christmas. The cathedral hands out heavy duty earplugs if people still want to climb the tower during service as the bells peels then.

The cathedral really makes you work for the view you get when you reach the observation deck. The deck is almost 100 meters above the ground and fenced in since there have been cases of suicides and people throwing objects to the ground. The fence doesn’t detract the view. The whole of Cologne is laid out to you from the observation deck. The city made an effort to limit the height of the buildings surrounding the cathedral, opting to make the cathedral the city’s focal point. This high up, you can also appreciate the details of spikes on the towers and the buttresses all around the cathedral.

Things to Know Before Going There

Cologne Cathedral
	- Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral - Cologne Cathedral. Photo by afcone
Cologne Cathedral is open daily and is easily accessible via the central train station of the city. Get off at the Dom/Hauptbahnhof station. The cathedral is a short walk from it.

During special holidays like Easter or Christmas, please check with the cathedral for special events.

Visiting the cathedral itself is free to all visitors. However, the Treasury Chamber and climbing the South Tower requires purchasing a ticket of €400 ($460). There are combined tickets that allow you to visit both.

Around Cologne Cathedral

While visiting Cologne Cathedral is the highlight of the city, nearby there are also a lot of landmarks and attractions to see.

Cologne itself is a great place to explore. It’s one of the major cultural cities Germany, with many churches, galleries, and museums to visit. The Roman-Germanic and Wallraf-Richartz Museum (Wikipedia Article) and Museum Ludwig are just a stone’s throw away from the cathedral. The Koln Rathaus, or the Old Town Hall is the oldest public building of Cologne, a few blocks away from the cathedral. Other churches in Cologne, while not as eye-catching as the cathedral, also are interesting places to visit like Great St. Martin, St. Gereon, and St. Pantaleon Churches.

There is also the Cologne Cable Car to experience. The cable car is a relaxing, picturesque ride across the river Rhine. It takes you from one bank of the Rhine to the other, at the same time, giving you a great view of the Old Town of Cologne and the Cathedral.

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Author: patricia16. Last updated: Jun 08, 2015

Pictures of Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral - Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral - Photo by faungg's photo

The Dom - Cologne Cathedral
The Dom - Cologne Cathedral. Photo by Lori Branham

2014-11-01_19-02-34_0025 (felix_winkelnkemper) - Cologne Cathedral
2014-11-01_19-02-34_0025 (felix_winkelnkemper) - Cologne Cathedral. Photo by Felix Winkelnkemper


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