By Kelly Wise Valdes
The immense Cologne Cathedral dominates the skyline of the city-center and is one of Germany’s most famous landmarks. It is also considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic and Neo-Gothic architecture in the world today. Its vastness can be viewed from anywhere in the city and the cathedral’s famous twin towers are a bold symbol of Cologne’s proud history.
Construction on the cathedral began in 1248 and took more than 600 years to accomplish. When it was completed in August 1880, the Cologne Cathedral held the title of the world’s tallest building until 1884. No less impressive is the actual size of the cathedral, which is larger than a football field. The total area measures more than 86,110 sq. ft. and has room for more than 20,000 people.
At the end of the gigantic nave is the reason for the cathedral being built; the shrine of the Three Magi (the Three Wise Men) whose relics were brought to the city in 1164. These relics made the cathedral one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Europe.
The interior of the cathedral is quite impressive with its extraordinary work of medieval gold craftsmanship surpassing all other shrines in the Western world in terms of size and majesty. The high chancel and choir area also makes this one of the finest sanctuaries in the Western world. The choir stalls have 104 seats making them the largest in Germany.
The construction was solid and led to the survival of the cathedral during WWII in spite of extensive bombing. Today, more than 80 stonemasons, glaziers, roofers and other specialists are at work on the maintenance and restoration of the cathedral building on a daily basis.
The cathedral holds public guided tours throughout the week and hosts more than 20,000 visitors daily. For information, visit www.koelner-dom.de.