Cologne Cathedral, Germany

Taking a whopping 632 years to finish building, it’s easy to see why this iconic cathedral welcomes over 20,000 visitors a year. Finally finished in 1880, Kölner Dom has since survived World War II despite the rest of the city being largely flattened, and been added to UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

It now stands as one of the icons of Germany, and is one of the first things that pops into mind when someone mentions Cologne. And the fact that it’s Germany’s largest Gothic cathedral, and the second largest in Northern Europe just meant I had to stop by Cologne given the chance.

I arrived by train in Cologne, and as I stepped out of the train station the cathedral stood proudly right in front of me. I hadn’t expected to be welcomed so grandly to the city, but the cathedral acted as a point of reference throughout my stay – handy when I got a bit lost – due to the fact it can be seen from many places across the city.

To have visited Cologne and not stopped in the cathedral would have been an absolute missed opportunity, especially for someone like myself who loves seeing different religious buildings!

Metal map of Cologne Cathedral in the square

Cologne cathedral as seen from the Christmas market

Cologne Cathedral with the twin towers in front of blue skies

Front facade of Cologne Cathedral

Although Cologne Cathedral welcomes so many thousands of people a day, there’s no entrance fees, and you’re free to wander around and explore the different decor, windows and sections. I love to take a seat in a church, look up and just admire the architecture. I’m not religious by any means, but I do love a good building!

If you’re looking for amazing panoramic views of the city, there is a viewing platform in one of the towers. From it’s vantage point 98m above ground, you’ll be afforded stunning views at the mere cost of climbing 509 steps. There’s no lift, so it’s not for the faint hearted, and surprisingly there wasn’t a queue when I visited.

Central nave of Cologne Cathedral

View of the central nave as seen from the side in Cologne Cathedral

Lit candles in Cologne Cathedral

Statue of St Christopher, Patron Saint of travel in Cologne Cathedral

St Christoper – Patron Saint of Travel

Windows in Cologne Cathedral

Mosaic flooring in the rear of Cologne Cathedral

Jesus on the cross, Cologne Cathedral

I had to pop back in the evening to see how the cathedral looked all lit up, but unfortunately it was tipping it down with rain, and I really hate being out in the rain. It still looked just as stunning, but after a few photos I had to move on. Cologne Cathedral at night, black and white

The joy of the location of the cathedral meant that I was able to soak up the stunning views one last time as we made our way back to the train station to move on to our next stop. I’m so glad I was able to see this amazing cathedral!

Top Tips

  • There’s a midday mass that tourists need to vacate the cathedral for at 11.30am. If you want to join in the service, you’re welcome to take a seat, otherwise you have to wait at the back.
  • Whether you speak German or not, and whether you’re religious or not, sitting through a service here is something else.
  • Free entry!
  • There are tour that go round that you could tag along with, but for €1 you can pick up a guided leaflet tour which is really interesting and informative.

You can read about my time in Cologne here, and check out my postcard here.

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11 Comments

  1. March 15, 2016 / 11:46 am

    My children (now grown) shake their heads at me when we travel. I’ve got to see the churches and cathedrals. They never fail to amaze me with their artistry, their creativity and all the plain hard work people gave to these monuments of faith. Your photos are stunning. I feel as if I can smell the incense and hear the hushed tones of prayer. Thanks.

  2. March 15, 2016 / 1:47 pm

    Love this! I loved Berlin and really want to explore the rest of Germany 🙂 such a culturally complex and rich country and Cologne Cathedral looks mesmerising.

  3. March 19, 2016 / 7:46 am

    Gorgeous photos and really brings back memories! I remember taking a train to Koln from Trier in 1986 and being enchanted by the cathedral and square. So thank you for taking me back. 🙂

  4. April 3, 2016 / 6:13 pm

    You make me miss my hometown! Every time I come back to Germany I visit the Dom and light a candle 🙂 Beautiful blog you have, I’ll be back to read more!

  5. June 16, 2016 / 9:34 pm

    Such a great article! Really great to read your adventure around here :)!

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