Cologne Cathedral: Germany’s Enduring Gothic Church

The Cologne Cathedral has been a stoic witness to countless tumultuous historical events. Construction began on the towering church in the mid-1200s. The cathedral was finally completed in 1880, thanks to a renewed interest in Medieval architecture and culture. French troops housed barn animals within the cathedral’s walls in the late 1700s when the church was occupied during the French Revolution, and Allied forces nearly bombed the structure into oblivion during a World War II air raid. Devout Catholics and avid preservationists have toiled for centuries to ensure that one of Europe’s great churches remains immaculate for all time.

Germany’s most famous cathedral is such a stunning architectural marvel that it is hard to know where to begin when attempting to describe its many wonders. The cathedral’s spiky twin spires are instantly recognizable. The cathedral was originally constructed to provide a lavish tomb for the remains of the Three Kings who honored the baby Jesus with gifts shortly after his birth. It is said that the earthly remains of the Magi rest in an ornate golden shrine which is visible to all who visit the cathedral.

Cathedral, Cologne, Germany

The cathedral’s vibrant stained glass windows—which have been updated as recently as 2007—are one of the church’s most striking features. Artist Gerhard Richter constructed a stunning abstract stained glass window composed of thousands of colorful squares of glass which reflect light in a rainbow pattern. Virtually every critic who complained about the window’s modern design changed their tune as soon as they saw the lively colors that Richter’s window projected into the cathedral.

Every square inch of the Cologne Cathedral features a beautiful, finely crafted piece of art. From the vaulted ceilings, to the intricate mosaic which covers much of the floor—guests can spend hours basking in the beauty of one of Europe’s grandest and most celebrated churches.

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