#27 Cologne's Churches in the late Merovingian Period – The History of Cologne
These next few moments will take us back to a time when Christianity in Cologne was just taking off, and we’ll explore the first churches that existed at this point. We start with an adventurous incident from 1959 involving Cologne Cathedral.
We will take a look at: St. Kunibert, St. Cäcilien, St. Ursula, St. Gereon, St. Pantaleon, St. Maria im Kapitol, St. Kolumba, Kolumba, St. Severin.
Grave goods from the Frankish grave under Cologne Cathedral
click on the pictures to enlarge them.
The voiceover is in German but the images speak forthemselves. “Jahrhundert” means century in German. The predecessor builduings of Cologne Cathedral. 1. Roman luxury villas. 2. At 1:48 Min. the first Bishop’s church in the 5th century. 3. At 2:13 Min. you can see the Bishop’s church in Merovingian times with the baptistery in the right top corner. 4. At 3:09 Min. you can see the Bishop’s church growth over the centuries up until the 8th century in lenght. This church existed up until Charlemagne in the year 800. As you can see, the baptistery was now integrated with the rest of the church building.
Archaeological Zone right beneath Cologne Cathedral. Yes, the giant gothic cathedral is right over my head here. The prestressed concrete ceiling prevents the floor in the cathedral from falling on my head. 😀
The stones and all the stuff you see here is from the 9th century “old” Cologne Cathedral, that we will discover in the next episode.
Below the choir of Cologne Cathedral you can still find the Baptistery of the Bishops church from the 7th century. Behind these closed bars. Unfortunately they were closed. Thank you very much (not!), Covid-19 pandemic.
St. Kunibert (St. Clemens)
Eastern side of St. Kunibert to the Rhine river with a giant apse. The church building, however, is a new construction from the 13th century, which replaced the 7th century church built by Kunibert. Which makes it still 800 years old.
Western side of St. Kunibert with main entrance.
St. Kunibert Monastery
Ok, I fooled you. This is not Kunibert’s well but a well that was built there in the 20th century dedicated to St. Clemens.
St. Severin already existed in late Roman times as a so called “cella memoriae.” As burial church on a Roman graveyard. Over the centuries the church building was expanded and became a powerful monastery in the Rhineland.
We have dedicated a single episode about the young woman who died as a martyr killed by no one else than Attila the Hun himself. But I haven’t had the chance to visit the church up until now. So here are some pictures. Unfortunately. Only the entrance section of the church was open on this day. But I tried my best. Sad, that I could not go into the “Schreckenskammer” The room with all those thousands of bones of St. Ursula and her companions. According to legend though.
Golden Chamber of all the supposedly bones from the holy virgin martyrs in St. Ursula
Click on the images to enlarge them
Viventia’s tomb in St. Ursula
Here, too, the church building was rebuilt in the 10th century, replacing its Merovingian predecessor. But that also makes this church building over 1,000 years old! As one of the few churches in Cologne’s city center, the church grounds of St. Pantaleon still convey quite the air of the Middle Ages. The monastery walls are completely preserved and separate the dense development of the city center in favor of wide lawns and natural areas within the former Benedictine monastery grounds. (red circle) Sorry for the blurry picture. But taking photos out of a flying airplane ain’t easy. 😉
Unfortunately, I failed to take more pictures. This was probably because I lived right around the corner for many years and figured I could always come back. I really need to go back there!
The church of St. Cäcilien (St. Cecile). The present church building was built as a successor between 1130 and 1160 as a church for a ladies’ convent.
For centuries, St. Kolumba was one of the largest parish churches in Cologne. Unlike the churches described here so far, it was not a collegiate church or belonged to a monastery. The church building in its last form was documented since the 10th century. The predecessor building probably originated from Frankish times. This made it one of the oldest still continuously preserved church buildings in Cologne with over 1,000 years of history. In 1943 it was completely destroyed in the course of the Second World War. Its destruction was so severe that it was decided not to rebuild. Furthermore, the destroyed church in the heart of Cologne was considered a memorial against war in general. Only a small chapel was built in its ruins. The site was archaeologically researched and integrated into the new art museum of the Archbishopric of Cologne in 2007. I must say I was thrilled at how well the remains of the ruins were merged with the new building here. But see for yourself. Care has been taken to use the same building material as was once used for the church. But have a look at the pictures yourself.
St. Maria im Kapitol
Carl Dietmar u. Marcus Trier, Colonia. Stadt der Franken. Köln vom 5. bis 10. Jahrhundert, 2011 Köln.
Carl Dietmar, Das mittelalterliche Köln. Der historische Stadtführer, 2004 Köln.