25 Cologne Cathedral Facts: Explore This World Heritage Site

Anusuya Mukherjee
Jan 23, 2024 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Mar 22, 2022
Cologne Cathedral facts will explore facets of the second tallest church of Germany.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.2 Min

The Cologne Cathedral is a sacrament chapel and the cornerstone of Cologne Cathedral was laid in August 1248 by Archbishop of Cologne Konrad Von Hochstaden.

The construction work advanced and progressed under the direction of architect Master Gerhard and was later taken up by Master Michael. Though consecrated, the construction work halted in 1473, and the south tower was completed up to belfry level.

In the 19th century, the architect's interest in design constructions reawakened. Around 1800 the medieval Romantics attracted public attention to the unfinished cathedral. Construction work resumed after 400 years as a large crane remained stationed near the south tower until 1842. After that, modern methods were incorporated into the construction and completed in 1880.

Characteristics Of Cologne Cathedral

The renowned monument is an impressive architect and one of the city's main attractions. The cathedral features several breathtaking important historical artworks.

It is modeled on the Cathedral at Amiens, the second tallest building after Ulm Minster, with stained glass and other exquisite features.

Cologne Cathedral's window surface area has more double-stained glasses than Chartres Cathedral's.

The cathedral has 533 stone steps of the spiral staircase to a platform offering an overview of the Rhine.

The cathedral features the world's third-highest church interior and the tallest twin-spired church in the world.

The cathedral has 11 church bells, and the largest church bell weighing 52,910.9 lb (24,000 kg) is called St Peter's, also known as Decke Pitter in the local dialect.

Though the Cologne cathedral took over 600 years, things were measured incorrectly and were uneven. The closest north tower to the train station is 516.3 ft (157.3 m), while the southern tower is 2.8 in (7 cm) smaller than the northern tower.

The choir stalls were ornately and finely carved and decorated-a typical feature of medieval churches.

There are 104 carved oak seats, surrounded by stained glass, painted statues, and frescoed walls.

They used to get filled up during rehearsals of the medieval choir.

One of the most important exterior features of the cathedral is it has the largest facade of any church in the world and has lofty porticos.

The Altar of the City Patrons painted by Lochner in 1442 is found in the lady chapel.

This painting found in the Lady Chapel is a remarkable example of the Late Gothic Cologne school of painting.

The other important exterior features include its steep gables, blind tracery, unified series of spires, architectural statues, and stone sculptures.

Architecture And Design Of Cologne Cathedral

The Cologne Cathedral follows the pattern of the High Gothic cathedrals of northern France and is dedicated to St Peter and the Virgin Mary. It is splendidly articulated and was executed beautifully. The craftsmanship is precise, and the design is almost to perfection.

The choir building in Cologne is quite different from the French cathedrals in building craftmanship.

The pillars and rising walls were assembled from the enormous blocks that were chiseled.

The Cologne Cathedral has maintained a high degree of uniformity in the architectural style adopted for all components.

The Cologne Cathedral is a typical Gothic masterpiece, and this massive architecture can hold 20,000 people.

The cathedral's design is based quite close to the Amiens Cathedral in terms of the ground plan, style, and width to height proportion of the central nave.

Rayonnant forms of Gothic style were a trendy design during the 13th century and were being adopted in the leading commercial cities.

The aerial view of the cathedral is in the shape of a Latin cross which is usual with Gothic architecture design.

It has two aisles on either side which supports the highest Gothic vault ever built and is as tall as Beauvais Cathedral, which collapsed in 1284.

The cathedral's exterior is famous for its extravagant use of lofty porticos, pinnacles, stone sculptures, stained glass, flying buttresses, and use of tracery.

From 1833, Ernst Friedrich Zwirner was the leading architect of the cathedral, which was to be completed.

After Master Gerhard, Master Arnold Wolff was Cologne's second master builder, and both his sons from the first marriage continued his work and became his successors.

From the fourth century CE, Christian buildings have stood on the site.

Importance Of Cologne Cathedral

During Roman times, today's Cologne Cathedral was a place to celebrate religious ministration by the Christians. After the relics of the Three Kings were brought to Cologne Cathedral in 1164, it became one of the supreme places of pilgrimage sites in Europe.

Frederick Barbarossa had stolen the believed relics of the Three Kings from the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio in Milan.

Archbishop of Cologne Rainald of Dassel later obtained these relics.

Though 14 bombs hit the cathedral during the Second World War, it did not fall apart.

It happened to be the tallest building in the world from 1880 to 1884. It was succeeded by Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower.

In 1956 the damages caused during the Second World War were repaired, and parts of some sections were not restored in memory of what had happened to this cathedral.

Since the cathedral's completion in 1880, its two stupendous southern and northern towers captivated the city's skyline and became the center and hallmark of the Rhine.

Cologne Cathedral was identified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.


How long did Cologne Cathedral take to build?

Cologne Cathedral started its construction on August 15, 1248, and was completed after more than 600 years.

How old is the Cathedral in Cologne?

Though the construction started in 1248, it was completed only in 1880. From the completion date, the cathedral as of 2022 is 773 years old.

What is special about Cologne Cathedral?

Cologne Cathedral is the largest Gothic architecture church in northern Europe, and the twin towers stand 515 ft (157 m). Moreover, there are 11 colossal church bells, of which four bells date back to the Middle Ages.

Why is the Cologne Cathedral so dirty?

Since Cologne was not built with the traditional black stone, but with sandstone that reacts to the sulphuric acid from the polluted rains, it requires continuous cleaning; otherwise, it remains dirty.

Who is buried in Cologne Cathedral?

Cologne Cathedral is a home for the tombs of 12 archbishops interred between 976 and 1612 CE.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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