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  • Writer's pictureTheresa Brandt

Discover Cologne's Crowning Achievement

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Cologne's massive cathedral continuously undergoes preservation and maintenance

If there’s one place you absolutely must visit when you’re in Cologne, Germany, it’s the city’s stunning landmark cathedral. Known by its twin spires, this 13th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site is the second-tallest structure in Cologne and is so massive it can hold more than 20,000 people at a time.

From its jaw-dropping Gothic architecture to the 12th-century golden shrine of the Three Wise Men created by local goldsmiths, and from its eye-catching stained-glass windows to its impressive relief of the Adoration of the Kings from 1440, the Kӧlner Dom is not only an important landmark but an incredible story.

When Mass is not being undertaken visitors are free to take pictures of the beautiful interior

As you tour the Cologne Cathedral, you’ll come to learn the history of the structure and its many facets. Visitors are allowed to explore by themselves outside of Mass times, but a private tour is really the way to go for the most insightful experience. If you like, climb more than 500 steps to the south tower, passing the cathedral’s famous bells on your way to the best panoramic views in the city. Marvel at the mechanical intricacies of the cathedral clock and one of the oldest electrically operated bells in the world. And, experience the ringing of the bells from up close - with hearing protection.

Take a guided tour of the roofs of the cathedral, with filigree iron construction older than the Eiffel Tower. Visit unknown tower rooms and peek into the workshops of the cathedral builders’ hut. Go down, down, down into the vast rooms under the cathedral floor to view excavation sites and archaeological findings, including 2,000 remains of walls, foundations, pits, tombs and more. There is something soul-stirring about seeing the bottom of the Gothic foundations that support one of the greatest medieval construction achievements. Continue along newly designed visitor paths that lead past the remains of Roman houses to the large eight-sided baptismal font of the early Christian Baptistery - one of the oldest examples of Christianity north of the Alps.

Finally, visit the cathedral treasury in the converted 13th-century vaults on the north side of the cathedral. You’ll see precious reliquaries, liturgical vestments, medieval sculptures, Franconian artifacts and more. The most significant items housed here include the staff and chains of St. Peter, two busts from the 15th and 19th centuries, a bishop’s crosier, baroque altarpieces and the late Gothic electoral sword from the late 15th century.

A quiet, reflective moment as my friend, Melissa, lit a candle in memory of a loved one

Cologne . . . Continued

The Cologne Cathedral is just one of the many landmarks and public spaces throughout the city that tell the tale of its days as a Roman settlement through to the Medieval ages, from the 20th-century wars to today. Consider visiting these storied sights when you’re in Cologne:

  • Hohenzollern Bridge and Emperor Wilhelm II Memorial

  • Cologne’s Old Town

  • Alter Markt

  • Herumarkt

  • City Hall, Germany’s oldest of its kind

  • River promenade along the Rhine

  • Roman Germanic Museum at Neumarkt Square

  • Jewish Quarter

  • Romanesque Catholic church of Great Saint Martin

Let’s chat about your visit to Cologne and how to make the very most of your time there. I look forward to sharing my experiences of this wonderful city with you! Reach out by booking a consultation through my Services page.


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