Cologne Cathedral | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Lucy Davidson

15 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is a vast and impressive gothic cathedral which took over six hundred years to complete. Visible from nearly every point in the city, it is the second highest building in Cologne after the telecommunications tower.

History of Cologne Cathedral

Located on what was previously the site of a Roman villa, thought to have dated back to the fourth century as well as several increasingly larger churches, construction of the current Cologne Cathedral began in 1248. There was already a church on the site, but when the relic known as the Three Magi was brought there, thus making the cathedral one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Europe, it was felt a larger church was need to accommodate the hordes of pilgrims who visited the site.

Due to its enormous size and elaborate nature as well as a series of interruptions including the arrival of French Revolutionaries, Cologne Cathedral was only completed in 1880. Its design was completed in accordance with the plan originating from the Middle Ages.

Cologne Cathedral Today

Today, Cologne Cathedral is home to a wealth of important ecclesiastical art, the highlight of which is the Shrine of the Three Magi (or three Kings), thought to contain the skulls of the three wise men.

Despite having been bombed during World War Two raids, Cologne Cathedral has survived and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, revered for being a remarkable example of a gothic cathedral. Visitors can also enter its treasury for more religious relics or climb its tower for great views of Cologne. Guided tours are available by appointment.

Over 80 stonemasons, glaziers, roofers, and other specialists are constantly at work on the maintenance and restoration of the Cathedral building. Cologne Cathedral features as one of our top German Visitor Attractions.

Getting to Cologne Cathedral

From the centre of Cologne, the cathedral is reachable in around 6 minutes by car via Tunisstraße. The closest train station to the site is Cologne Central Station, from where the cathedral is just a minute’s walk away. By foot, it’s a leisurely 7 minute stroll through the scenic Alter Markt.

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