Groß St. Martin

St. Maria im Kapitol

Romanesque Churches

In 1985, Cologne celebrated the Year of Romanesque Churches, observed worldwide: the twelve churches, all older than today’s Cathedral started in 1248, were restored following severe war damage, and opened to the public.

For the people of Cologne – the archbishopric especially – no effort or cost was spared in order to once again restore these unique stone monuments from the second heyday following that of the Romans, as closely as possible to how they may well have originally looked, according to tradition, and today’s knowledge, and taste. Many of the original furnishings were saved. They are among the greatest treasures of German medieval art, such as the wooden door in St. Maria im Kapitol (c. 1050), and the shrine of the Magi (c. 1200) in the cathedral. This occasion was acknowledged with many publications, films, television and radio programmes, symposia, celebrations, concerts, a large shrine procession through the city centre, and many other events.

Up until today, and hopefully also in the future, the Romanesque churches, in addition to the world-famous Gothic Cathedral, have characterised the architectural face of Cologne, especially its famous Rhine panorama. They continue to form one of the city’s major tourist attractions.

Romanesque art treasures

Anyone interested in German and Rhenish Romanesque art will find no better place than Cologne: The diversity and the high artistic ranking of many sculptures, windows, paintings, relics, ivory carvings from 900 to 1250 are always worth a visit, not only in the Romanesque churches already mentioned, but also in the Cathedral where, for example, every sensitive visitor is moved by the Gero Cross, the first monumental crucifix north of the Alps, in its incomparable majesty of suffering. Or in the richly endowed museums, the Schnütgen-Museum especially, whose famous collection of medieval art has found a worthy home in the former Romanesque Church of St. Cäcilien. Or in the Archbishopric Diocesan Museum where, in an extremely stimulating way, the visitor is confronted with medieval art alongside works by contemporary artists.

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