This massive Gothic cathedral can be seen from all points in Cologne. The first time I saw it was out a plane’s window, from which it looks truly unbelievable.
For about five minutes, the 157-meter spires made this the tallest structure in the world. Then, the Eiffel Tower surpassed it.
The Dom has an interesting ADD history: the foundation was laid in 1248 but the structure was not completed until 1880. Basically, the development was done in two sprints, five centuries apart.
The idea of the Dom started in the 12th century when the alleged relics of the Magi arrived in Cologne, drawing huge crowds. This prompted the archbishop, one of the seven Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, to commission a shrine in 1181. The shrine was completed in 1220.
But where to put the shrine? Obviously, a special building should be constructed, but in the new Gothic style rather than the same old-same old Romanesque style. Oh, and it should be larger and grander than any in France. Although the chancel was completed in 1322, the project ran out of steam and was abandoned in 1560 after the south tower, lower parts of the nave and façade were completed. In the 19th century, the old blueprints were discovered and the work was completed.
Believe it or not, the interior has an even bigger wow factor than the exterior. Look up and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Aside from the overwhelming size, there are notable touches. The high altar with the Romanesque shrine to the Magi illustrates the history of the world per the Bible. The chancel view choir stalls contain painted wooden panels and statues of the usual suspects – Christ, the Virgin, the Apostles. There’s a 9th century Gero crucifix and a triptych by the 15th century Cologne painter Stefan Lochner.
And the windows: a 13th century Bible window depicts Old and New Testament scenes, Gothic glass was completed by local painters and colored 19th century Bavarian windows were a gift from King Ludwig.