Churches and Cathedrals
Germany boasts a tremendous wealth of – mostly Roman Catholic – churches and cathedrals, by far too many to all mention them here. Even in smaller towns you will find magnificent examples of houses of worship in Gothic, Romanesque, Neo-classical or Baroque style. Most prevalent among German cathedrals is the Gothic architectural style. These churches are laid out in the shape of a cross, and the altar faces east toward the holy land. Gothic cathedrals are usually rather tall, meant to symbolize the way to heaven.
A few examples of famous
Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)
One of the best-known gothic churches of the World and a major architectural monument of Germany. Construction began in the 13th century and took, with interruptions, more than 600 years to complete. The two towers measure 157m in height, the cathedral is 144m long and 86m wide.
This “Imperial Cathedral” of Aachen, is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe. Charlemagne began the construction of the Palace Chapel in 786. When he died in 814, he was buried in his own cathedral, and his bones are still preserved in a special shrine. Its stunning architecture comprises Classical, Byzantine and Germanic-Franconian elements. For almost 600 years, from 936 to 1531, the Aachen cathedral was the church of coronation for 30 kings of the Holy Roman Empire.
Mainz Cathedral (Mainzer Dom)
The Cathedral represents is one of the finest examples of Romanesque cathedral architecture in the Rhine Region of Germany. Its enormous red-sandstone, six-towered body shelters the half-timbered houses of the old city and commands a prominent place in the skyline of Mainz. The cathedral’s spacious interior, achieved by massive vaulted arches, houses the tombs and funerary monuments of former powerful prince-archbishops of the diocese.
Regensburg Cathedral (Dom St. Peter)
St. Peter was built from 1274 to 1520 and is Bavaria’s finest example of Gothic architecture. The spires and upper portions of the towers are 19th Century additions. The Cathedral is home to the famous “Regensburger Domspatzen”, or “Regensburg Cathedral Sparrows,” a church choir led for many years by Georg Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI’s brother. Pope Benedict was Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Regensburg from 1969 to 1977.