Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany

Cologne Cathedral is the landmark of Cologne and with its height of 157 meters the third highest church in the world. It is considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and is the most visited sight in Germany.

Cologne Cathedral stands about 250 meters from the banks of the Rhine and, with its incredible height of more than 157 meters, can be seen long before you reach the center of Cologne. If you then stand in front of it, you are almost overwhelmed by its majestic and gigantic appearance.


The two towers reaching far into the sky make it one of the tallest churches in the world. In Europe, Cologne Cathedral is the second highest church after Ulm Minster, and the third highest in the world. The massive house of worship is one of our top 10 sights of Germany and one of our top 10 most beautiful churches in Europe.

PICTURES: Cologne Cathedral

Photo gallery: Cologne Cathedral

Origin of the Cologne Cathedral

In 1996, the imposing Cologne Cathedral was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Germany - © Oleg Proskurin / Shutterstock
© Oleg Proskurin / Shutterstock

Cologne Cathedral was built in the period from 1248 to 1880. After construction began in 1248 in the French Gothic style, money ran out very quickly and construction later had to be stopped. For more than 300 years the construction lay idle and was only completed with the financial help of the Prussian king.

After its completion in the 19th century, Cologne Cathedral was the largest building in the world. It is still considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. In 1996, Cologne Cathedral was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The interior of the Cologne Cathedral

Interior view of Cologne Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and the third tallest church in the world, Germany - © Patrick Poendl / Shutterstock
© Patrick Poendl / Shutterstock

Cologne Cathedral impresses with its wealth of art treasures; it has become a famous pilgrimage site. However, due to the approx. 17,000 visitors daily, one can no longer speak of a religiously contemplative atmosphere. Too bad!

Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral

View over the evening Christmas market with its approximately 150 snail-shaped and festively illuminated stalls at Cologne Cathedral, Germany - © Thomas Ramsauer / Shutterstock
© Thomas Ramsauer / Shutterstock

The city's imposing landmark is of course also celebrated in the run-up to Christmas and naturally receives its own Advent market. The tallest Christmas tree in the Rhineland is enthroned in front of the imposing building amid more than 100 festively illuminated stalls, display craftsmen and a live stage. As a conclusion of the Cologne Christmas markets, a visit to the Christmas crib in the cathedral is worthwhile.

Superlatives of the Cologne Cathedral

The massive Cologne Cathedral is Germany's most popular tourist attraction, with around 6 million visitors - © Yury Dmitrienko / Shutterstock
© Yury Dmitrienko / Shutterstock
  • Cologne Cathedral is the most visited sight in Germany - on average, about 6 million visitors visit the cathedral every year.
  • It holds the record of the largest church facade in the world with 7000 square meters.
  • It is the largest Gothic building in the world.
  • It can accommodate 20,000 people.
  • The windows occupy 10,000 square meters of space.
  • The central nave is 119 meters long and 45 meters wide.
  • The construction costs today would amount to an estimated 10 billion euros.

Cathedral Treasury

Only directly in front of it, the gigantic dimensions of the Cologne Cathedral become visible in all their splendor, Germany - © X_C / Shutterstock
© X_C / Shutterstock

The cathedral treasure, more than 200 precious exhibits, is presented on about 500 square meters in the cathedral treasury. Among the most important pieces of the cathedral treasure are the St. Peter's staff and the St. Peter's chains. Also on display are precious reliquaries, liturgical vestments, insignia of archbishops and cathedral clergy, medieval sculptures, Frankish grave finds and, of course, much more.


The south tower

The incredible 157m high Cologne Cathedral stands about 250 meters from the banks of the Rhine and is visible from far away, Germany - © Oleg Proskurin / Shutterstock
© Oleg Proskurin / Shutterstock

If you want to enjoy a breathtaking view over Cologne and also have the athletic fitness, you can climb the south tower over 533 steps. There is no elevator! After a few straight stone steps, a stone spiral staircase begins, via which you reach the first viewing platform. Here there is a bench to take a short rest and catch your breath.

Further up is an iron spiral staircase and you finally reach the second viewing platform at a height of 95 meters. The magnificent view of Cologne compensates for the effort of the ascent! Attention on the way down: as always, going down is more difficult than going up.

The cathedral lodge

To keep a building of this size in good shape, ongoing construction and maintenance measures are required. All these activities are carried out by the employees of the Dombauhütte. There are stonemasons, sculptors, roofers, painters, electricians, scaffolders, carpenters, locksmiths, a blacksmith, glass restorers, glass painters, art glaziers and a goldsmith and a silversmith.

Related links:

Official site of the Cologne Cathedral
Official site of the Dombauhütte, here you can book guided tours