Top 10 Cathedrals in Europe 3

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Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany
The place in which the cathedral is situated today has been since late roman times the place where the first christians assembled in Cologne. Several churches- each one in turn larger than its predecessors- have been built on this site near the city walls. The first of these churches of which we know what it looked like was the Carolingian cathedral finished around 800. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site. It is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20, 000 people a day. Construction of Cologne Cathedral commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880. It is 144. 5 metres (474 ft) long, 86. 5 m (284 ft) wide and its towers are approximately 157 m (515 ft) tall. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires (after Ulm Minster) Its two huge spires give it the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir has the largest height to width ratio, 3. 6: 1, of any medieval church.

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England
For more than one thousand four hundred years, a cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the City. The present Cathedral, the masterpiece of Britain’s most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, is at least the fourth to have stood on the site. It was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and services began in 1697. The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London, with its dome, framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, dominating the skyline for 300 years. At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962, and its dome is also among the highest in the world. In terms of area, St Paul’s is the second largest church building in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.
Important services held at St Paul’s have included the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher; Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer, the launch of the Festival of Britain and the thanksgiving services for the Golden Jubilee, the 80th Birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. St Paul’s Cathedral is a busy working church, with hourly prayer and daily services.

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Notre Dame de Paris, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral is a beautiful cathedral on the the Île de la Cité in Paris. Begun in 1163 and mostly completed by 1250, Notre Dame is an important example of French Gothic architecture, sculpture and stained glass. The Notre Dame is the most popular monument in Paris and in all of France, beating even the Eiffel Tower with 13 million visitors each year. The Notre Dame de Paris stands on the site of Paris’ first Christian church, Saint Etienne basilica, which was itself built on the site of a Roman temple to Jupiter. Notre-Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave but after the construction began, the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher and stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral’s architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern.

The north rose window inside the Notre-Dame de Paris, dates from 1250 and is also 12. 9 meters in diameter. Its main theme is the Old Testament, but the central medallion depicts the Virgin and Child. Photo by Martie Swart.
© Cosmin R Roman 2012

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