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Germany’s largest cathedral in Cologne took 632 years of construction

Ian Harvey

Sometimes, masterpieces take long to be completed, and for the Gothic masterpiece cathedral located in Cologne, Germany it took 632 years to be finished. Its construction began in 1248.

The foundation stone was led by the Archbishop of Cologne on August 15th, the following year, while the eastern arm was completed by the instructions of Master Gerhard and consecrated in 1322.

Cologne Cathedral, Rayonnant Gothic (1248-1880), Cologne, Germany  Photo Credit

Cologne Cathedral, Rayonnant Gothic (1248-1880), Cologne, Germany  Photo Credit

 

Unfinished cathedral with a 15th-century crane on the south tower, 1856 Photo Credit

Unfinished cathedral with a 15th-century crane on the south tower, 1856 Photo Credit

 

The west front of the completed cathedral in 1911  Photo Credit

The west front of the completed cathedral in 1911  Photo Credit

Although the construction was paused in 1473, the work was restarted in the 19th century, and the cathedral was completed by its original plan in 1880. The unfinished construction during the medieval period made the cathedral a place of exceptional value and a powerful testimony of Christianity’s strength and persistence in medieval and modern Europe.

As many buildings suffered demolition during World War 2, the Cologne Cathedral wasn’t an exception. It suffered fourteen hits of aerial bombs. Although it was severely damaged, the cathedral kept standing as one of the tallest landmarks of the city. Its renovation from the damage was finally completed in 1956.

US soldier and a destroyed Panther tank, 4th April 1945  Photo Credit

US soldier and a destroyed Panther tank, 4th April 1945  Photo Credit

 

A “Bird’s eye view” shows the cruciform plan Photo Credit

A “Bird’s eye view” shows the cruciform plan Photo Credit

 

The main entrance shows the 19th-century decoration Photo Credit

The main entrance shows the 19th-century decoration Photo Credit

 

In 1996, the picturesque cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list of culturally relevant sites. By 2004 it was placed on the ‘World Heritage In Danger’ due to the plans for constructing a high-rise building which would visually impact the cathedral. However, the authorities decided to limit the height of buildings built near the cathedral and thus, removed it from the ‘danger list’ in 2006.

During the 21st century, the Cologne cathedral received a new stained glass window in the south transverse part of the building. It was designed by the German artist, Gerhard Richter and was composed of 11,500 identical pieces of glass which created a colorful ‘carpet’ and added a rainbow touch to the facade which is the largest of its kind.

The Medieval statue of St. Christopher welcomes travelers Photo Credit

The Medieval statue of St. Christopher welcomes travelers Photo Credit

 

Hohenzollernbrücke in Cologne (Germany) with Cologne Cathedral in the blue hour   Photo Credit

Hohenzollernbrücke in Cologne (Germany) with Cologne Cathedral in the blue hour   Photo Credit

Today, the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe is the seat of the Archbishop and the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. An important event which marked the cathedral was the World Youth Day in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI visited Cologne.

Read another story from us: The Cathedral of Trier is the oldest cathedral in Germany

Thousands of young Christians gathered and transformed Cologne into a place where faith and joy were celebrated. This event is considered as one of the greatest celebrations in Cologne’s history.

Located on the both sides of the Rhine river, Cologne is one of the most attractive tourist destinations, while its picture-perfect cathedral is the cherry on top.