Cologne Cathedral: Old, big and gothic

Inside the Cologne Cathedral
Inside the Cologne Cathedral

It’s hard to miss the Cologne Cathedral if you visit Cologne, Germany. It dominates the town, figuratively and literally. The hordes of tourists and pilgrims aside, the masses of photographers visiting the Photokina tradeshow every two years probably make this one of the most well-photographed churches in the world.

I have a thing for churches. By any name: Temples, cathedrals, wats, mosques, synagogs, basilicas – I like them all. I’m not a religious person, the polar opposite of that actually. I do appreciate fine old things. That, and the reflective silence you find in religious space. You get both in spades when visiting the Cologne Cathedral.

Cologne Cathedral History

The Cologne Cathedral was started in 1248 to house some religious relics the taken from Italy. If you’re going to have remains of the Three Kings you need a church of some import to house them. By 1322 enough work was done that part of the construction could be used as a church. In 1473 the work stopped. Nothing really happened for almost 400 years until construction started again in the early 1800s. At a cost of 1 billion dollar in modern bucks the cathedral was completed in 1880, 632 years after it was started.

The Cologne Cathedral is a busy place. With the Three King relics on site, the church is a popular destination for pilgrims. Tourist flock to the cathedral, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The are surrounding the gothic church is filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. A nice dinner or German Pork Hock, a few beers and a stroll by the Rhine, before a few minutes of quiet reflection at cathedral – A grand evening.

I spent an evening in the cathedral last autumn. A service was in progress, hymns were being sung. In that cavernous building the voice echoed and reverberated – the sounds was almost hypnotic. If you like churches with a sense of history, this is one to add to the bucket list.

 

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