Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

Cologne Cathedral |
Cologne: after 400 years, resurrection

Cologne Cathedral is drawn from Chapter Two, beginning on page 54, of Volume Seven, A Glorious Disaster of the twelve-volume historical series The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years. If you would like to order this book please visit

Long left derelict by the contempt of the Renaissance Gothic suddenly revived

Cologne Cathedral - Cologne: after 400 years, resurrection

Cologne Cathedral - Cologne: after 400 years, resurrection
Highlighted by floodlights at dusk, the Cologne Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Mary stands near the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine River. Around 1248 Archbishop Conrad von Hochstaden ordered work on the new Gothic cathedral to begin, based on the design of a master builder named Gerhard. The specific purpose of the cathedral was to showcase the magnificent gold reliquary of the “three magi,” brought from Constantinople. Above: Looking east to the high choir, the central nave is illuminated by a vast expanse of stained glass. This tremendous height and very open wall system was made possible by an engineering advancement that used a series of compound piers around a core pier that was egg shaped in cross section. Immediate left: To the left of the main entrance stands a stone sculpture of St. John the Baptist. He points to the symbol of the Lamb of God, reflecting the biblical account (John 1:29).

Atestament to the enduring faith of the German people, Cologne Cathedral took over six hundred years to reach completion. Begun in 1248, the work initially proceeded at a steady pace, with the choir finished seventy-four years after the cornerstone was laid.

But then the work began to slow down, and by 1473, with all things medieval falling under the disfavor of the Renaissance, work was stopped altogether. One tower was completed, the other topped by a crane that was to become the landmark of Cologne for the next four hundred years.

Not until a new enthusiasm for the Middle Ages arose in the nineteenth century did work begin again. Construction was spurred by the discovery of the original plans and by the zeal of Cologne’s Central Cathedral Building Society, formed in 1842 to finish the job and maintain the building. The primary benefactor was the emperor William I, who provided one third of the approximately one billion dollars (in twenty-first century money) required for completion. The rest came from the people of Germany. In 1880, with a national day of celebration and great festivities, the job was declared done. By the twenty-first century the building society had about ten thousand members and a board of forty. It raises through membership fees, bequests, and the revenues of a lottery the $3.5 million required annually for staff and upkeep.

This is the end of the Cologne Cathedral category article drawn from Chapter Two, beginning on page 54, of Volume Seven, A Glorious Disaster. To continue reading more about Cologne Cathedral from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years we suggest experiencing the rest of the book, complete with hundreds of magnificent illustrations, by ordering it at