Three Kings Cathedral (02:57)
The Cologne Cathedral was built between 1248 and 1880 to house the biblical characters‘ remains. The only surviving construction document is a façade drawing made in 1280 by Master Gerhard's successor Master Arnold. The two towers were inspired by the French cathedral style, later known as Gothic.
Symbolic Architectural Features (03:16)
Facade statuary was designed for an illiterate population. The knave, altar, choir and reliquary trace a symbolic east-west axis drawing pilgrims from the profane to the sacred. A cross shaped layout suggests the Passion of Christ.
Practical Architectural Features (02:45)
The Cologne Cathedral has wide side aisles to house more worshipers; an ambulatory surrounds the choir. Unlike Romanesque churches, it is tall and allows light to enter. Pointed arches appear in 43 meter knaves, in the walls and in the vaulting.
Pointed Arch Innovation (03:46)
Crossing two arches spread the weight load, making it possible to build higher—a medieval architectural revolution. The Cologne Cathedral features 92 vaults; pillar bases were calculated by pillar height and cross ribs allowed windows to replace stone walls.
Flying Buttress Innovation (02:42)
Gothic sculptural details conceal external structures that counterbalance the roof weight load.
Flying Buttress Engineering (02:54)
Cologne Cathedral buttresses are hollow and counter the thrust from the roof and from vaults. Pinnacles direct the force down to the ground.
Finishing Construction (03:34)
For 300 years, the Cologne Cathedral lacked a knave and transept. Inspired by a German nationalist movement revering Gothic architecture, Frederick William IV of Prussia reopened the site in 1842. Completed in 1887, it was the world's tallest building at 157 meters.
Modern Stained Glass (03:30)
19th century builders used a metal frame for the roof; traces of the medieval construction remain. In 2003, Gerhard Richter was commissioned to create a new stained glass window to complement original Three Kings motifs. Work continues on the cathedral.
Credits: Cologne Cathedral: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture (00:29)
Credits: Cologne Cathedral: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture
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