Work began in 1248 on this medieval Gothic masterpiece. The size is staggering. It is said the Cathedral was originally built to house the remains of the three kings from the biblical story of the birth of Christ. Standing at just over 157 meters high it was a 100 or so years ago the tallest building in the world. Listed by UNESCO in 1996 as a world heritage site, Cologne cathedral is one of Germanys most popular landmarks with an average of 20,000 people visiting a day. The Cathedral has a colourful history and it’s astonishing how the building is still standing after the city was heavily bombed during the second world war. Pilots would use the Cathedral as a landmark dropping an estimated 34,711 bombs across the city. Pretty much everything in the city was flatted and the Cathedral was hit fourteen times. Though damaged, remained standing. A similar story can be told of St Paul’s cathedral in London, is this divine intervention? More likely that by using the buildings as a target would mean hitting buildings all around.
Seeing the Cathedral for the first time is breath taking. Dominating the Cologne Skyline, the Catherdral gets more and more impressive the closer you get. The gothic architecture is extraordinary. Everywhere you look there are grotesque gargoyles protecting the building from evil spirits, though serving a less romantic function of conveying water away from the roof to prevent damage.
There is mixture of old and new as the Cathedral is in a constant state of repair and restoration, employing 60 craftman. Scaffolding is ever present in some form though it didn’t distract too much. Pigeons are the biggest enemy causing the most damage. Work on this building is a costly with an estimated budget of 7m euros per year. The stone work looks very dark, almost black, this is due to modern pollution such as acid rain. On an overcast day the catherdral can look very foreboding. Looking at some old oil paintings it was much brighter. Visting on an evening when the catherdal is lit up does give a better idea of how it once may have looked.
I was particularly interested in photographing the statues that adorn the exterior, there’s roughly 110 of them.
Quite remarkable really there is no entrance fee to go inside and have a look, you are asked for a donation and there are fees for tours and to access certain parts such as the tower. Well worth a visit.
For more information please visit their website www.koelner-dom.de