Known to the Roman Catholic world as Ecclesia Cathedralis Sanctorum Petri et Mariae, the High Cathedral of Saint Peter dominates the sky line of the ancient city named 'Kölle' by the locals and the world by Cologne. The name itself is derived from the Latin word for "colony" as it began as Colonia Agrippina, after the mother of Emperor Nero. I first caught glimpse of this grand medieval cathedral as the train crossed the Rhein over the Hohenzollern bridge to the main train station of the city. As one leaves the Köln Hauptbahnhof, the only obstacle between you and the renowned monument to everything of Gothic architecture is others standing in the plaza left breathless and in awe of its beauty. Undergoing nearly five centuries of construction, the cathedral is a treasure of countless value to those who step under the world's largest church facade into the nave of stained glass windows of vibrant color reaching heights more than 60 feet, giving heavenly light to the choir that sang the evensong as I made my way throughout the nave. After climbing more than 500 spiraling steps to the top of one of the spires, hearing the soothing songs of the choir with the pipes of the organs nestled high up in the galleries above, I can understand why the Cologne Cathedral is the most visited landmark in all of Germany!
Standing as the tallest building in the world for four years only to be surpassed by the Ulmer Münster a few hundred miles away, the Cathedral was laid out to be a place of worship fit for the Holy Roman Emperors. Today, the cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and the resting place to many how have served the church throughout the long history of the cathedral. One of the most notable sarcophagus of all Christendom is the Shrine of the Three Kings. The triple sarcophagus gilded in gold and ornamented with silver, bronze and various gemstones is said to encase the bones of the three magi, more commonly known as the Three Wise Men.