Thursday’s windows: Cologne Cathedral

What a breathtaking sight is this Gothic masterpiece! The construction of Cologne Cathedral was begun in 1248, and wasn’t completed until 1880. In 1530, work on the church stopped, but the crane stood on top of the building for 300 years, as a symbol of hope that it would one day be completed. When it was finished in 1880, it was the tallest building in the world. The foundations were 50 feet deep and there were 10,000 sq metres of glass in the windows. In 1996, the cathedral was added to the Unesco World Heritage list of culturallyΒ  important sites.


On entering this magnificent building, I was absolutely amazed at the height of the ceilings and the light streaming in through the windows behind the altar, which seemed to bathe everything in a celestial glow.


There are countless stained glass windows, each one very beautiful and quite different from the other.


As you can imagine, it’s impossible to do the windows justice with photos. We were told that coloured glass was thought to be the nearest thing to Heaven’s light, and thus captured the imagination of the people of the Middle Ages. The faithful who were mostly illiterate, received the message of the Gospel verbally, and their faith was encouraged by such reinforcing visual images, created by light reflected from these windows.


Most of the windows are original, as they were taken out and put in a place of safety before the bombings of the two world wars. Much of the church was damaged during the bombings, but the windows were luckily unscathed.


The most recent window in the cathedral was unveiled in 2007. It was designed by the famous German artist, Gerhard Richter, and is made up of 11,200 identically sized squares of glass. This very modern window is a veritableΒ kaleidoscope of colours, and some people don’t like it at all. What do you think?


I hope you’ve enjoyed my windows for the Thursday theme. To see more of this week’s interpretations of the challenge, just click here.

77 comments on “Thursday’s windows: Cologne Cathedral

  1. Pingback: Day 3 – Cologne and its Grand Gothic Cathedral | European Holiday and River Cruising Memoirs

  2. I’m putting a link to your post on my Blog to be published just after midnight (Australian Time) tonight. I love the article. Hope you don’t mind.

  3. Wonderful that the stained glass has survived all that trauma, Ad. I love the medium but I’m not wild about that kaleidoscope modern version. There is some amazing modern stuff in the Dominican church in Krakow.
    Funnily enough I was in Durham Cathedral today admiring the lovely Rose Window with some of my Polish family. πŸ™‚

  4. Such an amazingly grand edifice. Quite a testament to humanity. Must say. The modern window adds nothing. It depicts nothing but colour – not quite like the rest of the windows that actually celebrates the greatness of G-d i as it should be since it’s a church. Nevertheless – absolutely wonderful pics AD!!

  5. WOW STUNNING. How overwhelming it must have been to be surrounded by so much beauty!

  6. Visited years ago too AD . Had quite forgotten how beautiful particularly the interior is with its soaring pillars and vaulted ceiling .
    The modern window reminds me of a colourful scan code logo πŸ™‚

  7. Never visited here but I love Gothic cathedrals in general and this one seems like a spectacular example.

    • Funny you should mention that, bulldog. Our guide pointed out some of the very top stained glass windows, which were very dull and dirty. He said that there was a project underway to get them cleaned in the near future, Quite a task I would think. πŸ™‚

  8. I’m not living in the Middle Ages and those windows would surely capture my imagination. I’ve not seen that cathedral — YET — but is sure is magnificent. Your photos are stunning. Very nicely done! Thank you so much for taking the time to organize and upload them for us.

  9. How can I not like this? My hometown!!!!!!! where I grew up. I have to confess that sometimes I do miss all this. We back in Cologne agree, the modern window is not really up to the mark and I agree also with Gunta, here in my family we all think that the rosewindow of Notre Dame is stunning. Thank you my friend for taking me down this memory lane. Carina πŸ™‚

  10. WOW! I am so glad they didn’t get ruined during the wars. I like the older versions better than the one revealed in 2007.

  11. That is truly a masterpiece, and you captured its grandeur very well, Sylvia.
    As for the stained glass windows, I like the old ones better than the modern one. It is pretty, but it seems does not fit to be placed in the Cathedral.

  12. The religious depictions don’t do much for me, but then the modern one is far too random, like someone not getting the jig-saw put back together right. My favorite of the stained glass window style is the rose pattern. Particularly the one in Notre Dame.

    But you did remarkably well given a very difficult subject to shoot!

  13. It’s amazing that the cathedral survived WWII as well as it did. Photos from 1945 show a devastated, flattened city with a relatively intact cathedral standing in the ruins. I hope to see it some day, your photos are exceptional!

    • Yes, it is a miracle that it wasn’t more badly damaged. I read that the great twin spires were used as an easily recognizable navigational landmark by Allied aircraft, whilst raiding deeper into Germany in the later years of the war, which may be a reason that the cathedral was not destroyed.

  14. Stunning! The facade reminds me of Westminster Abbey, and the stained glass similar to that of Sainte Chappelle. How I’d love to see this masterpiece!

    • Thanks, Elisa. It’s a most amazing place to visit. It was my second time there, but the first visit was long ago, and it’s beauty still took me by surprise. πŸ™‚

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