Today in Catholic History – The Completion of the Cologne Cathedral

On 14 August 1880, the Cologne Cathedral, the Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria, was finally completed. Construction on the cathedral had begun in 1248, 632 years earlier.

There had been an older cathedral dating back to the 6th century on the site, but this had been torn down in the 9th century to construct a second cathedral. The second cathedral burned down on 30 April 1248.

When construction on the third cathedral began on 15 August 1248, it was intended to house the relics of the Three Kings which had been obtained by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. For the next several centuries work on the cathedral was completed bit by bit – first the eastern arm of the cathedral in 1322. The south tower was completed in 1473. Intermittent work continued until the 16th century before ceasing only to be renewed during the 19th century as a result of the Romantic movements attraction to all things medieval. The renewed construction had the support of the Protestant Prussian government who hoped that such assistance would improve relations with its Roman Catholic subjects.

When the cathedral was completed, it inspired a national celebration attended by Emperor Wilhelm I.

During WWII, the cathedral suffered bombing attacks but was not destroyed. Some accounts assert that the twin towers of the cathedral were used by Allied bombers as landmark for guiding their bombing missions.

The cathedral continues to be famous as an example of Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage site.

The Website of the Cathedral

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