The Old Cathedral before Cologne Cathedral

Everyone knows the Cologne Cathedral. But what about the Cologne Cathedral before the Cologne Cathedral?

In the 9th century, a magnificent cathedral was built in Cologne. The predecessor of today’s Cologne Cathedral in the form of a Carolingian basilica. Everything about this Romanesque building including two legends are this time the main part of this episode.

How did the young Byzantine princess Theophanu become the richest woman in Europe at only 12 years old at the end of the 10th century? And how did she become the most powerful woman in Europe at the age of 24, with far-reaching effects on European history? In this episode, we will look at her breathtaking life and, of course, at the end, what all this actually has to do with Cologne itself.
  1. Theophanu
  2. How Archbishop Bruno changed the face of Cologne forever – until today
  3. Retrospective on Frankish Cologne
  4. The Archduke of Cologne
  5. From the Empire of the Franks to the Land of the Germans

Video about the Old Cathedral (with timestamps)

4:19 minutes: The Old Cathedral that was being built in the 9th century

4:52 minutes: interior of the Old Cathedral

5:08 minutes: Hilinus Codex

5:32 minutes: total view of Old Cathedral in the 11th century. On the right you can see the chapel of the “Pfalz” (palace)

The “Hilinus Codex”

Old Cologne Cathedral on the cover of the “Hilinus Codex” and the floor tiles on the bottom. Priest Hilinus gives the codex to St. Peter, the patron of the cathedral, ca. 1025 A.D.

The “Old” Cologne Cathedral

Reconstruction of the Cathedral by architect August Esswein, 19th century.

Hildebold with a model of the Old Cathedral in today’s gothic Cologne Cathedral. The mosaic was made in 1899 by Villeroy & Boch.

The remains of the Old Cathedral in the archaeological zone beneath today’s Cologne Cathedral

Stepstone into the Old Cathedral in the bottom of the picture. Look closely how to one side this step is worn out by centuries of people going in and out.

Remaining original floor tiles of the Old Cathedral. So amazing! They were not demolished because one always thought of that they could be recycled one day. But maybe they were forgotten over the course of the centuries. Lucky for us! As you can see the color wore a bit of over 1,000 years later. But it you can clearly see that they got the same color as depicted on the “Hilinus Codex.”

A corner of the Old Cathedral with floor tiles. In the background, illuminated by the lamps, you can see other segments of the floor of the Old Cathedral. These are the areas that look something like raised beds. So, if you walk through the Archaeological Zone, you will always have the floor at stomach or chest level.

Another shot that shows segments of the floor of the Old Cathedral on both sides on these platforms that look like raised beds.

A close-up of these “raised beds.” Here the tiles were removed during the construction of what is now Cologne Cathedral. Only the screed of the floor of the Old Cathedral are still preserved here.

When the construction of today’s Cologne Cathedral was started, the eastern part of the Old Cathedral was demolished first. Since it was built over the foundations and foundation walls of the Old Cathedral, today’s Cologne Cathedral is higher than the surrounding terrain. In order to be able to walk back and forth on the construction site between the Old Cathedral, which was still partially preserved at that time, and the new cathedral, this staircase served for some time.

To get building materials to the site, they even created their own roads right into the construction site. These are also still preserved under today’s Cologne Cathedral.

2 thoughts on “The Old Cathedral before Cologne Cathedral

  1. Thank you, as always for the great pictures in your companion post. I also really enjoyed the extra story about Heiliger Reinhold. This caused us to do a lot more extended searching about him. I am one episode behind, but also listening to your German podcasts, and that takes a little longer to get through for a guy born and raised in Minnesota.


    1. Thanks for your feedback. Well, my podcast is a service to you and it is totally up to you to decide if or when you want to listen to it. 🙂 I learned in my half year in the US that there were many German immigrants going to Minnesota. 🙂 Your last name by the way clearly indicates that you also might have some German in you. 🙂


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