World Travel GuidesCologne Cathedral, Germany

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Cologne Cathedral, or Kölner Dom in German, is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne, who presently Cardinal Joachim Meisner. The Cologne Cathedral is the most famous Gothic structure in Germany. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site. Many tourists that visit the Cologne Cathedral decide to stay in Hamburg, since Hamburg Germany is also known for its architectural landmarks.

Cologne Cathedral as seen from Hohenzollernbrucke
Cologne Cathedral as seen from Hohenzollernbrücke" style="text-decoration:none" target="_blank">Thomas Robbin (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N 50 56 28 E 6 57 26 in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen)
Inscription Year: 1996, with minor modification in 2008
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: I, II, IV

The Cologne Cathedral was placed in the "World Heritage in danger" list between 2004 until 2006, when nearby high-rise buildings threatened the visual impact of the site. The cathedral was removed from the endangered list after the authorities limit the height of buildings constructed near and around it.

Closer view of Cologne Cathedral
Closer view of Cologne Cathedral" style="text-decoration:none" target="_blank">ger1axg (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

History of the Cologne Cathedral

Construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248, and proceeded on and off for 600 years before it was finally completed in 1880. It is 144.5 meters long and 86.5 meters wide, making it one of the largest churches in the world, and the largest Gothic church in northern Europe. The cathedral has a pair of towers that are 157 meters tall. Between 1880 and 1884, it was briefly the tallest structure in the world, until the Washington Monument was completed and surpassed it in height.

The Cologne Cathedral was built to house the reliquary of the Three Kings, the Magis that visited Jesus at his birth. The relics of the Three Kings had been acquired by Rainald of Dassel, the Archbishop of Cologne, in 1164 and was brought there from Milan, Italy. The cathedral was also intended as the place of worship of the Holy Roman Emperor, hence it has to be sufficiently grand to fit the status.

Cologne Cathedral sculptures
Cologne Cathedral sculptures" style="text-decoration:none" target="_blank">Mathias Bigge (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Visiting Cologne Cathedral

The Cologne Cathedral is located at Am Domhof, a short distance from the River Rhine. You won't miss it in the city skyline. The grounds of the cathedral is open free to tourists from 6:00 am to 7:30 pm. There is an admission charge for going up the tower and the treasury. A 509-step spiral staircase lead to the viewing platform 98 meters above ground. The platform is open 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in Nov-Feb, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in Mar-Apr & Oct, and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm from May to Sept.

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