Wednesday, August 14, 2013
August 14 - Cologne Cathedral
On August 14, 1880, the completion of Cologne Cathedral was celebrated as a national event in Prussia (now Germany), 632 years after first construction had begun. Officially the High Cathedral of St. Peter, the foundation stone of the immense Gothic church was laid on August 15, 1248, on a site that dated back to an ancient Roman temple. Dominated by two massive spires, the stone edifice was planned as a cathedral to house a sacred reliquary traditionally believed to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men (aka Three Kings), taken from Milan in the 12th century. After the nave and transept were temporarily roofed in 1560, construction stopped for reasons never explained. Work did not resume until 1823, when Prussia acquired Catholic portions of North-Western Germany, including the Ruhr, after Napoleon’s defeat. A civic association raised two-thirds of what today would be more than $1 billion in building costs; the Prussian state paid the remainder. Damage inflicted on the cathedral by Allied bombing in World War II was repaired by 1956.