The largest city in western Germany, Cologne, is home to the most visited landmark in Germany, the Cologne Cathedral. The Cologne Cathedral is famous for holding the shrine of The Three Wise Men, a holy relic brought by Archbishop Rainald von Dassel back in the mid-12th century. What becomes a famous destination for Catholic and Christian pilgrimage is a respected monument of Gothic architecture, featuring the second-tallest spires in Northern Europe. Read on to learn more about the interesting history of Cologne Cathedral.
The building of Cologne Cathedral was a project that spanned several centuries. It was originally designed by Gerhard of Reil, a stonemason who took inspiration from other cathedrals in Paris, Strasbourg, and neighboring countries. The cornerstone of Cologne Cathedral was officially set by Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden on August 15th, 1248, during the Catholic holiday, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. However the Cologne Cathedral was never fully completed as funding ran out, as well as the interest in Gothic architecture in the 16th century. It would be another 300 years before the Cologne Cathedral would be completed in 1880. Under the direction of King Frederick William IV of Prussia, funding was raised in donations, and the Cologne Cathedral was officially finished on October 15th with a celebration.
Surviving a War
Compared to the 632-year construction period, Cologne Cathedral had a brief sixty years until it was threatened in World War II. Although it is believed that the cathedral was spared from direct attack from enemy troops because they found it too beautiful to destroy, the Cologne Cathedral still suffered many bombing attacks over the course of the war. Afterward, it took many years to repair the Cologne Cathedral from this damage, as well as damage from the elements that it was left vulnerable to after the attacks. In a sense, Cologne Cathedral will always remain an ongoing construction project.
Cologne Cathedral Today
Despite its rocky history, today, the Cologne Cathedral stands as the second-tallest structure in Cologne after telecommunications tower. People recognize it by the ornate, Gothic design, and the dark hue over the entire structure. The Cologne Cathedral was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996 by UNESCO. At about 26,000 square feet, the Cologne Cathedral is large enough to hold over 20,000 people. In addition to being the home to the Three Wise Men, the Cologne Cathedral features breathtaking stained-glass windows and the several other important historical works of art.
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