Cologne Cathedral: magnet for pilgrims and tourists
The cathedral serves not only as Cologne’s most visible landmark; it is also the most popular attraction in Germany. A highlight is a trip across its roofs.
The Cologne cathedral is in high demand by tourists and pilgrims alike: with more than six million visitors a year, the cathedral is the most popular tourist destination in Germany and one of the most important pilgrimage churches in Europe. Art lovers will also get their money’s worth as the church is one of the masterpieces of European Gothic architecture.
The foundations of today’s cathedral in Cologne were first laid in the Middle Ages, in 1248. Construction was abandoned for lack of funds in 1530 and the unfinished cathedral adorned the city of Cologne’s landscape for more than 300 years. It was only in 1842 that construction could be restarted, and subsequently completed in 1880.
Despite severe damage during the world wars, numerous valuable works survived inside the cathedral, including the Shrine of the Magi, the largest surviving Romanesque reliquary. The remains of the biblical Magi, or Three Wise Men, have been a destination for pilgrims and visitors from all over the world since the 12th century. In addition, the cathedral’s treasury is still open to the public, displaying valuable finds and works of sacred art.
Cologne Cathedral has been included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1996. A special tip for those who like heights is to take a tour of the cathedral’s roofs.