Kolner Dom, or Cologne Cathedral, is Germany’s most visited landmark, once the tallest building on earth and a tourist attraction near me worth seeing. The church receives over 20,000 people per day.
Original construction started in the Medieval period, with the laying of the first stone in 1248. Work continued sporadically over 400 years but was not begun in earnest until 1842. The building was not finished until 1880, however, it stays true to Gothic Architecture with its use of high rib vaulting, arches, and stained glass windows. The cathedral boasts one of the highest Gothic vaults in the world.
The Cologne Cathedral is of special importance in the Christian faith as it houses the Shrine of the Three Kings (the Three Wise Men) above the high altar. This shrine, a gilded sarcophagus covered in over 1000 jewels and beads, depicts the journey described in the bible made by the three wise men to visit baby Jesus. Inside are the relics, the remains of the three kings, which came to the cathedral in 1164. It is these relics that attract the number of pilgrims to Cologne to pay homage to the site.
Other objects of note inside the cathedral are the Medieval statue of St. Christopher and the Crucifix of Bishop Gero, the oldest known large crucifix.
You may spot some black discoloration on the outside of the building, which is caused by acid rain reacting with the sandstone surface of the cathedral.
All told, Germany’s largest cathedral took 632 years to complete. Though Germany was bombed heavily during World War II, the allied forces left the cathedral standing, though some repair work was completed in 1956 thanks to a combat battle between American and German tanks.
In 1996 the cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and other buildings within the area of the cathedral are limited in their height to protect the view of the building on the bank of the Rhine.
The admission fee is 4 Euro.