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Cologne Cathedral: an unrivaled masterpiece of medieval gothic architecture

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Cologne Cathedral: an unrivaled masterpiece of medieval gothic architecture

Cologne Cathedral is the symbol of Cologne and the heart of the city. The Roman Catholic High Gothic structure is the third largest in the world and makes an unforgettable impression. Being a World Heritage Site, the cathedral is not only striking in its beauty, but also keeps many secrets and valuable relics that have been preserved since ancient times. Today, travelers from all over the world can visit the Cologne Cathedral: all church rituals are held within its walls, guests of the city can listen to a choral performance or attend an organ music concert.

A brief history of the Gothic cathedral

The construction of the temple began in 1248 and lasted 632 years! The grand opening of the Cologne Cathedral, which amazed everyone with its magnificence and scale, took place in 1880. During the construction, 11 bells and a huge bronze gate were cast, 157 towers were erected and many stained glass windows and sculptures were created.

High Gothic style in the architecture of the Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral was built by the architect G. Riele, who took as an example the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens, located in France. Sharp arched vaults and reinforcing pilasters were included in the ground structure of the temple, which made it possible to create the effect of a building rushing upward. Thus, the cathedral was supposed to instill in believers a sense of humility and submission.

The building itself is lavishly decorated with carved stone, sculptures, multi-stage portals and openings, and its delicate turrets and spiers make an unforgettable impression. Therefore, first, it is better to go around the Cologne Cathedral from the outside and enjoy its incredible beauty.

Main characteristics:

  • Height = 157 m
  • Length = 145 m
  • Width = 86 m
  • The total area of 8000 m 2 
  • Window area = 10,000 m 2
  • Steps to the top of the tower = 533.

Observation deck

Inside the 2 towers of the cathedral there are bell platforms located at a height of one hundred meters. They provide tourists who dare to climb the spiral staircase of 533 steps the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful panorama of Cologne and the Rhine.

Deal with the devil: an old legend of the Cologne cathedral

For many centuries, there is a legend that for the construction of the Cathedral, G. Riele made a deal with the Devil. The architect worked on the drawings for a long time, but they all turned out to be boring and monotonous. One night, when the next sketch was sent to the trash, Rile was visited by Satan himself, who offered to make a deal: the immortal soul of an architect in exchange for a construction plan. It was supposed to take place early in the morning, with the first cock crow. However, the architect's wife managed to thwart the deal: after overhearing the night conversation, she went out into the courtyard and crowed three times. So the project for the Cologne Cathedral was received. Upon learning of the deception, the Devil flew into a rage and put a curse on the cathedral - "after the last stone is laid in the foundation of the temple, the world will collapse and the end of the world will begin."

Let this be just a legend, but the construction of the cathedral lasted for several centuries, and some restoration work is still being carried out.

Interior decoration of the Cologne Cathedral: beauty and luxury of the Middle Ages

Inside, the Cologne Cathedral is adorned with original vaults, gilded elements, multi-colored stained glass windows and carved wooden mezzanines. The upper altar of the temple was created in the XIV century: made of black marble, it is considered the largest in the world.

Travelers will be interested in Lochter's triptych, made in the 15th century: it reflects different scenes from the Gospel, depending on whether the icon is closed or open.

Cologne's archbishops are buried in the cathedral chapels, housed in sarcophagi made of marble, limestone and bronze.

While inside the Cologne Cathedral, you should definitely pay attention to:

  • "Chest of the Three Wise Men" - 3 wooden sarcophagi, sheathed with gold and decorated with precious stones
  • Sculpture "Milan Madonna". According to believers, it has a miraculous effect.
  • The Gero Cross, adorning the Cologne Cathedral and reaching 2 meters in height
  • The treasury containing the most valuable relics (collection of manuscripts, ceremonial cross, staff and monstrance of St. Peter, etc.).

Visit to Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral is ready to receive visitors daily:

  • Summer time: 6:00 - 21:00
  • Winter time: 6:00 - 19:00
  • Sunday and holidays: 13:00 - 16:30.

The entrance to the cathedral is absolutely free. It should be noted that visits are prohibited during the service.

For those wishing to learn the history of the Cologne Cathedral and explore it in more detail, paid excursions are organized from Monday to Thursday. To do this, it is enough to come to the main entrance at a specially designated time. Two excursions last 2 hours a day: the first starts at 10:00, and the second - 14:00.


You can get to the famous treasury from 10:00 to 18:00.

Ticket price:

  • Regular = 6 €
  • Discount = 3 €.


You can climb the tower and admire the view of Cologne for only 3 €.

Opening hours:

  • Summer time: 09:00 - 18:00
  • Winter time: 09:00 - 16:00.

Object type: cathedral.

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