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Colonia Romanica

Romanesque churches in Köln (Cologne)

 

This page provides an overview of the romanesque churches of the archbishopric city of Cologne in western Germany. Despite heavy damage in the second World War, the total of twelve main romanesque churches spread through the city centre still represents a unique and impressive cultural highlight. The original Rhenan romanesque style is characterized by its western transepts, trefoil choirs in clover-leaf shape and high ranking twin towers dominating the Rhine panorama. The style originates in the 10th century from Ottonan influences and culminates in the 12th century with richly decorated new constructions. Another revival takes place in the first half of the 13th century, just before the Cathedral would be rebuilt in gothic style.

 

Introduction
Main churches
More churches
Other monuments

 

Introduction

Cologne was a major religious centre for centuries and the biggest medieval town north of the Alps. The town developed on the site of the roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. In the 4th century, a first cathedral was built near the city walls and a bishopric was established that turned into on of the most important ones around. The 4th century witnessed the construction of some more churches, such as the remarkable circular building of S. Gereon outside the city walls and S. Severin which was established in a roman graveyard on the south side of town. S. Gereon became the sepulchral church of the Frankish kings. The cathedral was rebuilt in carolingian style around 800 with a double transept and double choir, which existed until it burnt down in 1248 and the gothic reconstruction started. Cologne kept on gaining importance and it's defence walls extended outwards several times (1106, 1180).
Construction of the romanesque churches of the city covers the period from 950 to 1250. Most churches are imperial or monastic foundations, only S. Maria Lyskirchen was originally a parish church. The 10th century S. Pantaleon is the oldest of the churches in town, originally part of a benedictine abbey founded in 957 by Archbishop Bruno, the younRhine panoramager brother of Emperor Otto the Great. The western transept with central square tower from around 980 is a clear example of an ottonan style westbau from the imperial tradition. The Gero crucifix in the cathedral is also from the 10th century and the oldest one in town. The 11th century was the period when the largest of the romanesque churches was built : S. Maria im Kapitol. This long church with it's flat ceilings and huge trefoil choir, the first one in Cologne and the only one with ambulatories, was completed by 1065 and received magnificently decorated doors. The basilical church of S. Georg, with the only columned nave in town, was built in the same period. The churches of S. Caecilien and S. Ursula with it's three-storied nave are from the second quarter of the 12th century. Around 1150, the romanesque art or Cologne reached a culminating point, greatly influencing architecture in the Rhineland. The westbau of S. Aposteln and the trefoil choir of Gross S. Martin date from this period and show a smart decoration with arcading, dwarf galleries and flanking towers at the apses. Other churches, such as S. Maria im Kapitol, received vaults replacing the original ceilings. In 1164, the cathedral acquired the relics of the Three Magi, taken from Milan by Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa. The relics attracted pilgrims from all over Christianity and the famous relics shrine, an impressive work of medieval gold craftsmanship started in 1190, can still be visited in the cathedral. The large westbau of S. Georg is from the end of the 12th century and the trefoil choir of S. Aposteln, the third one in town, is another masterpiece erected around 1200. The first half of the 13th century delivered the last group of romanesque churches in Cologne, where rib vaults and pointed arches show the first early gothic elements. In this group we can place S. Andreas, S. Maria Lyskirchen, S. Severin and S. Kunibert. The latter was completed in 1247, a year before the foundation stone was laid for the new cathedral and the gothic style emerged definitely. Most of these churches have impressive twin towers flanking the eastern apse. The nave of Gross S. Martin belongs to the same period and the majestic decagon of S. Gereon, erected in early gothic style on top of foundations from late antiquity, is a masterpiece from about 1220. The churches of Cologne also received important decorations in the 12th and early 13th centuries, such as mosaics (S. Gereon), murals (S. Maria Lyskirchen), tombstones (S. Maria im Kapitol), crucifixes (S. Georg) and stained-glass (S. Kunibert). Still the monumental sculpture of Cologne can be considered modest for the romanesque period.
The churches of Cologne were repeatedly altered through later centuries. The choirs of S.Andreas, S. Pantaleon, S.Ursula were rebuilt in gothic style, while S. Severin was largely reconstructed in the 15th century with exception of the choir. Some other romanesque churches completely disappeared such as S. Kolumba close to the cathedral and S. Heribert on the eastbank of the Rhine. World War II devastated the city centre of Cologne and caused great damages to the romanesque churches. S. Aposteln, S. Maria im Kapitol, Gross S. Martin and S. Georg had to be reconstructed to a large extent in order to retrieve their original shapes. The restoration of the churches was boosted in the 1970s. The Förderverein Romanische Kirchen Köln was fouded in 1981 and Cologne celebrated the Year of Romanesque Churches in 1985 when the churches were reopened to the public. The churches were nominated on the UNESCO world heritage list in 2013. Most of the churches can be visited free of charge during regular hours throughout the week.


Map of romanesque churches in Cologne

 

 

Main romanesque churches

S. APOSTELN
Nave (ca 1030); westbau, tower (ca 1150); trefoil choir, crypt (ca 1200); dome, vaults (early-13th).

S. GEREON
Choir, crypt (ca 1060-1070 and 12th); towers (12th); decagon (1219-1227; base ca 380); mosaics (12th); murals; sarcophagus.

S. KUNIBERT
Westbau, nave, transept, towers, choir (1215-1247); stained-glass windows (ca 1230).

S. MARIA IM KAPITOL
Nave, transept, trefoil choir, crypt (1040-1065); transept vaults (ca 1150); doors (ca 1060-1065); Plektrudis tombstone (ca 1160-1170); cloisters.

GROSS S. MARTIN
Trefoil choir, tower (ca 1150-1172); nave (ca 1230); baptismal font (13th).

S. PANTALEON
Westbau, tower, nave, transept (966-980); side-aisles (ca 1150-1160); crypt; relic shrines (late-12th); sculptures; cloisters.

 

More romanesque churches

S. ANDREAS
Westbau, nave, crossing, tower (ca 1200-1220); crypt (11th).

S. CAECILIEN (& S. PETER)
Nave, choir, portal (ca 1130-1160); crypt (10th); Schnütgen Museum for Medieval Art; tympanum relief (ca 1160); Tower of St. Peter (ca 1170).

S. GEORG
Nave columns, transept, choir (1056-1067); vaults, pillars (mid-12th); westbau (ca 1180-1188); crucifix (ca 1070, replica).

S. MARIA LYSKIRCHEN
Nave, choir, tower, portal (ca 1210-1220); murals (mid-13th).

S. SEVERIN
Choir, towers (ca 1230) ; crypt (ca 1030-1040).

S. URSULA
Westbau, tower, nave and transept (ca 1135); sarcophagus (12th).

 

Other monuments

DOM S. PETER & MARIA
Gothic cathedral (1248-1473); Magi relics shrine (ca 1190-1220); Gero crucifix (ca 960); baptistery ruins (9th); Cathedral treasury; Archbishopric Diocesan Museum.

KLEIN S. MARTIN
Tower (12th, rebuilt).

OTHER CHURCHES
Minoritenkirche S. Maria Empfangnis (14th), Antoniterkirche (14th; baptismal font 12th), S. Maria Himmelfahrt (17th).

PRAETORIUM
Roman substructures (1st-4th).

CITY WALLS
Walls, Hahnentor, Eigelsteintor, Severinstor, Römerturm.

CIVIL MONUMENTS
Overstolzenhaus, Rathaus.

 

Web links

Official sites
http://www.romanische-kirchen.de/
http://www.koelner-dom.de/
http://www.st-aposteln.de/
http://www.st-kunibert-koeln.de/
http://www.maria-im-kapitol.de/
http://www.lyskirchen.com/
http://www.sankt-pantaleon.de/
http://www.cologne.de/what-to-do/sightseeing/romanic-churches.html
http://www.koeln.de/tourismus/sehenswertes/kirchen
http://www.cologne-tourism.com/attractions-culture/romanesque-churches.html
http://www.willkommeninkoeln.de/01city/city06-3d.htm

Pages about the churches of Cologne
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/germany/cologne
http://kulturreise-ideen.de/architektur/romanik/Tour-romanische-kirchen-in-koeln.html
http://www.koeln-altstadt.de/kultur/romanischekirchen/
http://www.podtours.co.uk/Romanesque-churches-cologne.html
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/the-churches-of-cologne-1346.html
http://www.koelnerfoto.de/Seitenauto/KOELN/KIRCHEN_FRIEDHOF/K_ROMANIK1/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Romanesque_churches_of_Cologne
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%B6rderverein_Romanische_Kirchen_K%C3%B6ln

 

Pictures: Eduard, 2011. For any comments or additions feel free to contact me.

 

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