The Cathedral of Cologne is one of Germany's most important architectural monuments and part of our list Top Ten Sights and Attractions in Germany.
This Gothic masterpiece, situated in the heart of Cologne, is the third tallest cathedral in the world and boasts the highest church spires ever built.
History of the Cologne Cathedral
The construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248, in order to house the precious relict "Shrine of the Three Holy Kings". It took over 600 years to complete the Cathedral, and when it was finished in 1880, it was still true to the original plans.
In World War II, the city center of Cologne was leveled by bombings; the Cathedral was the only building that survived. Standing tall in an otherwise flattened city, some said it was divine intervention; a more matter-of-fact explanation is that the Cathedral of Cologne was a point of orientation for the pilots.
Treasures of the Cologne Cathedral
Shrine of the Three Holy Kings:
The Cathedral's most precious work of art is the Shrine of the Three Kings, a golden sarcophagus studded with jewels. Dating back to the 13th century, the shrine is the largest reliquary in the Western world; it holds the crowned skulls and clothes of the Three Wise Men.
The Gero Cross is the oldest surviving crucifix north of the Alps; it was carved in oak in 976 and hangs in its own chapel near the sacristy.
In the Sacrament Chapel, you find the Mailänder Madonna ("Milan Madonna"), an elegant wooden sculpture from the 13th century; it depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus.
Modern Mosaic Glass Window:
In the south transept, marvel at the modern stained glass window created by German artist Gerhard Richter in 2007. Composed of more than 11,000 identically sized glass pieces, it offers the modern interpretation of a stained glass window.
The Cologne Cathedral is right next to the central railway station of Cologne; take the metro or train to the stop "Dom/Hauptbahnhof".
Opening Hours of the Cologne Cathedral:
Main Hall: daily, 6 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Treasury Chamber: daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Tower: November - February, 9.00 a.m. - 4 p.m.; March - April, October, 9.00 a.m. - 5 p.m.; May - September, 9.00 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Admission to the Cologne Cathedral:
Main Hall: free
Treasury Chamber: Adults 4 Euro, reduced price 2 Euro
Tower: Adults 2.50 Euro, reduced price 1 Euro
Guided Tours of the Cologne Cathedral:
Guided tours in English (45 minutes): Monday - Saturday 10:30 a.m. and 2:30. p.m.; Sunday and holidays 2:30 p.m.
Admission: Adults 6 Euro, reduced price 4 Euro
Treasury Chamber: for guided tours, please call 0221 - 17940-555
Tips for your Visit:
- You can not explore the main hall of the Cathedral during masses or services
- The altar and choir area will be closed during confession (Mon-Fri 7-9 a.m., Sat 2-4 p.m.)
- The view from the Cathedral tower is breathtaking, but you will have to climb 509 stairs until you reach the viewing platform.
- If you decide to visit both tower and treasury chamber, get a combined entrance ticket for 5 Euro.