The Cologne Cathedral (Exterior) // Germany

August 15, 2018

Happy Wednesday Friends! I hope that your week is off to a wonderful start! I am taking a brief break today from sharing about my Alaska trip to share one of a few remaining posts that I have from the Rhine River Cruise that my mom and I took in December and January. Today I am so excited to share a little bit about the beautiful and amazing exterior of the Cologne Cathedral (or Kolner Dom as it is called in German) that we visited on our 5th day of our River Cruise. 

Back in June I shared that on our 5th day of our Rhine River cruise we had the amazing opportunity to spend the morning cruising the Middle Rhine River. (You can read about the first part of our scenic cruising HERE and the second part HERE!) Then we spent the afternoon and early evening exploring the beautiful city of Cologne, Germany before spending the rest of the day at the Cologne Cathedral. (You can read more about a walk through historic cologne HERE.)
As a quick background the Cologne Cathedral is a renowned monument with a ton of amazing history that spans several centuries and was declared a world heritage site in 1996. It is Germany's most visited landmark of all time with the average number of visitors being nearly 20,000 people each day! It is also the tallest twin-spired church (515 feet tall) in the world. 
Construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248, but was stopped in 1473 leaving it unfinished. Nearly four hundred years went by before work was resumed on this beautiful cathedral and it was finally completed (according to the original plan from the 13th century) in 1880. 
The Cologne Cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the largest facade of any church in the world. The only word that I can think of when we walked up and approached the cathedral is absolutely stunning. We simply stood there in awe of the building and also the way the cathedral has withstood the test of many things over its existence.
Interestingly when the cathedral was being built, it was found that the site had been the site of many previous churches and from as early as the 4th century it has been occupied by christian buildings. 
One of the most interesting parts of the Cathedral's history for me was the history of its World War II survival. (I am sure this is not a huge surprise with my love of 20th century and the recent start up of Twenty History Lane. *smiles*)
For those who may not be familiar with the history of the cathedral in World War II, the cathedral suffered fourteen direct hits by bombs during the war. While the structure was badly damaged, it amazingly stayed standing and structurally sound, amidst the decimated city it is in. 
During World War II the cathedral and the immediate area of Cologne were the site of intense ariel bombs and also the site of numerous tank combats between the Americans (3rd Armored Division) and Germans (Panther Ausf. A). After the Americans destroyed a Panther it was actually put on display at the base of the Cathedral for the remainder of the War. 

In 1944 the cathedral needed an emergency repair on the Northwest Tower's base so this was carried out at that time. The brick that was used was taken from a nearby ruined building and was quite visible. For decades though this was left on purpose as a reminder of the war. In 2005 the decision was made to restore the section to its original appearance, but a few photographs in the museum still show the repairs done in 1944. 
I hope you enjoyed these pictures and a brief explanation of the exterior architecture of the Cologne Cathedral! In my next post from our Europe trip I can't wait to share more about the inside of the Cologne Cathedral and its unique treasures it holds! If you are interested in reading more about our Basel to Amsterdam cruise on Viking, you can click on the links below: 


  1. Love this place! Went when I was 16 and have always wanted to go back. It's off topic but did you go to the Chocolate Factory in town as well? It may be different now but we took a tour and got to taste chocolate. Incredible!

    1. Jessica!
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment- the Cathedral was so amazing- it is definitely a place I would love to see again :) We wanted to go to the chocolate factory (many people on our tour did and said it was amazing!) but we sadly didn't have time with some other things we did! Boo! We will have to go back and try it another time :)
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and stop by!
      Happy Friday!
      Rebecca :)