Cologne Cathedral is not only the top attraction in the city, it also ranks number one in the whole of Germany. More than six million people visit this UNESCO World Heritage site every year. The people of Cologne have a very special relationship with 'their' cathedral.
Cologne Cathedral is the city's focal point and best-known landmark. It is the most distinctive feature of the famous Rhine panorama, together with the Romanesque Great St. Martin's Church and Hohenzollern Bridge. The dramatic Gothic cathedral houses the shrine of the Three Wise Men and, as a result, is one of Europe's major places of pilgrimage. The cathedral gained another gem in 2007 when a window of pixel-like, stained-glass squares by Cologne-based artist Gerhard Richter was unveiled.
The five-naved Gothic cathedral is dominated by the magnificent west facade with its two towers that reach a height of 157.22 metres. Cologne Cathedral is Germany's second largest church and the third largest in the world. The cathedral's size is not its only record-breaking aspect, however: it was completed and dedicated to St. Peter in 1880, having taken 632 years to be built. The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and can accommodate a congregation of around 4,000 people. Five masses are celebrated here every day, and the services held at the weekend attract several thousand people.
Cologne's residents can sing any number of songs about their cathedral – and not just during the carnival. There is hardly a company based in the city that does not feature the two towers in its logo. The people of Cologne's relationship with their cathedral is heartfelt and highly emotional and may surprise visitors to the city.
The cathedral was granted World Heritage status in 1996 for its spiritual, cultural and historical significance. According to UNESCO, it is the worldwide epitome of high-Gothic cathedral architecture in its purest possible form.
'Holy' Cologne is also represented by the twelve large Romanesque churches. Expert and lay visitors alike will be captivated by the successful fusion of new design elements, modern and historical art and architecture, and superb restoration work.