You may wish to see an introductory page to this section or some important Romanesque churches first.
In this page: Apostelkirche, St. Ursula, Gross St. Martin, Andreaskirche, Severinkirche, St. Georg, St. Kunibert and St. Maria Lyskirchen.
The outline of Rhenish churches of this class is strikingly varied. The towers are often arranged in two groups: one at or near each end. The Apostles Church has a tall western tower; to the east of this is a transept beyond which is the nave with its aisles which are bounded by the transverse apsides: a fine octagon occupies the intersection and two lofty octagonal turrets stand in the eastern re entering angles free of the central lantern.
Rev. John Louis Petit - Remarks on Church Architecture - 1841
The Apostles' church in the square called the Neumarkt, built about the year 1200. Its exterior is in the highest degree elegant; its numerous towers and semicircular projections group admirably, from whatever point it is seen; altogether it may be deemed a perfect specimen of the Romanesque style.
John Murray - A Hand-Book for Travellers on the Continent - 1838
Apostelkirche - interior
In the XIXth century the interior was entirely decorated with mosaics and frescoes in neo-Byzantine style. These were lost during WWII and restorers chose not to replace them in order to enhance the plain Romanesque architecture of the interior. The restoration was completed in 1975.
The Church of St. Ursula, and of the 11,000 Virgins, will be considered generally too singular a sight to be passed over without a visit. The church, situated just within the town walls, is not remarkable in its architecture, but it is filled with bones, reported to be those of St. Ursula's companions. That saintly lady, (according to the legend, a British princess) having set sail with her virgin train from Britain to Armorica (Normandy and Brittany), was carried by tempests up the Rhine (!) to Cologne, where the whole party were slaughtered by the barbarian Huns, because they refused to break their vows of chastity. Beneath, above, around, these hideous relics meet the eye: they are built into the walls, buried under the pavement, and displayed in gaunt array in glass cases about the choir. Murray
We saw several fine Churches with Altars rich and neatly adorn d and tir d our selves well with going about; we perceiv d they abound in Relicks, every Church affecting to have something or other which is counted valuable of this kind. I lamented that many of the inscriptions which express this matter were in High Dutch, and so I could but seldom make any thing of them, and to have found a Person at every Church that could and would give us an account of things in Latin, would have taken up more time, than we had to spend here. Besides it is not at all material to know what Relicks they have, but only this would have been worth taking notice of, namely to observe what Veneration is to be paid to them, and what the encouragement is that allures the People to it.
Theophilus Dorrington, a Church of England clergyman; the full title of his book was: "Observations concerning the Present State of Religion in the Romish Church, with some reflections upon them made in a journey through some provinces of Germany in the year 1698; as also an account of what seemed most remarkable in those countries".
The Saint herself reposes in a coffin behind the altar, while the skulls of a select few of her associates are deposited in the Golden Chamber, encased in silver, along with a number of other relics, such as one of the stone vessels which held the water that was turned into wine, at the marriage feast in Cana, a link of St. Peter's chain which fell off when the angel summoned him from prison, etc. (..) Some, who have been staggered by the vast extent of her maiden train, have supposed that the legend arose from a mistake of the writer who first transcribed it, in confounding the name of one of her attendants, Undecimilla, with the number "undecim millia" (11,000). Murray
In the Church there is a Chapel, the Walls of which are adorned with some Rows of Busts gilded; and with some Shrines in which are preserved the Heads of many of those Virgins; the whole is garnished with a rich Crimson Velvet, and a Gold Stuff embroider ed with Pearls and Jewels. Above all this there is a Tapestry of their Bones, among which I observed some of Children, of five or six Years old; which Circumstance would almost make me doubt of the Truth of the whole Story: But a celebrated Physician of this Place was formerly treated as a Heretic, for having said, that there were among them, two or three Bones of large Mastif-dogs. Having boasted that he could prove this beyond all Contradiction, he was condemned to pay a considerable Fine and banished out of the Diocese of Cologne. "Tantum Religio potuit suadere malorum"("To such heights of evil has religion been able to drive men". Lucretius - De Rerum Natura, Book I, 101).
J. de Blainville - Travels through Holland, Germany, Switzerland and Other Parts of Europe, but especially Italy - Translated by William Guthrie - 1743
You may wish to read Mark Twain's account of his visit to the ossuary of the Capuchin Convent in Rome.
(left) Gross St. Martin from the bridge leading to Deutz; (right) reconstructed portal
At Great S. Martin (1172) and SS. Aposteln (1193)
the triple apses have no aisles, a manifest improvement on S. Maria in Capitolio. The former of these
churches with its magnificent central tower and its
galleried apses forms a prominent feature in the river
front of the town, and has the finest exterior of anything
in Cologne. In the interior there is a triforium with
pointed arches above a round arched arcade, and except
the barrel vault of the transepts and the semi-dome of the
apse, the vaults are Gothic. Jackson
The church is located near the river on a location which since Roman time housed a river harbour and a fish market. Archaeological excavations after WWII identified evidence of a large building of the IInd century AD. The original Romanesque church is dated XIIth century, but it underwent many changes and modifications. It was the church of a Benedictine Abbey which was demolished during the French occupation of the town in 1794-1814.
Gross St. Martin: (left) interior; (right) statues by Tilman van der Burch (late XVth century) from a lost altar
During the XIXth century the interior was redesigned and two towers were added to the original building. WWII bombings and fires caused the collapse of all the ceilings and only a few walls stood still at the end of the conflict. For many years it was thought to leave the ruined church as a memorial to the war. Eventually it was decided to rebuild it and in 1985 it was reopened. The design of the interior reflects the medieval Romanesque aspect of the church.
Andreaskirche: (left/centre) Romanesque vestibule; (right) Romanesque nave and Gothic choir
Archbishop Bruno founded the collegiate church of St. Andrew in the late Xth century. The construction of the present church in Romanesque style was begun about the year 1200. Later on the walls of the side aisles were broken through, Gothic chapels were added and a new choir was built in Gothic style.
Andreaskirche: 1325 fresco
This fresco is part of a cycle depicting events of the Life of the Virgin Mary. It is a rather rare example of German mural painting which has withstood the ravages of time. In addition to the impact of historical events and of changes in fashion, the washed-out frescoes of some German churches might have suffered from a lack of technical skill in their execution.
Severinkirche is included among the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne only on historical grounds, because its main features were radically modified; in 1393 its western tower was replaced by a Gothic one and approximately at the same time the nave was renovated in late Gothic style.
great churches of Cologne, Worms, Speyer, and Mainz
are inspired by North Italian example. We meet again Lombard
with the arcaded galleries round the apse, which we
knew at Bergamo and Como (see those at SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Rome and at Anagni); with lofty towers panelled, and pierced by windows with mid-wall shafts, like those of Milan; and the tall blank arches
that break the plainness of the lower walls remind us of
Pisa, Lucca, and Toscanella. Jackson
St. Cunibert, finished 1248 (the year the Dom was begun), has an elegant portal, thrown down a few years ago by the fall of the tower. The tower is not destined to rise again (it was rebuilt in 1860). Murray
Both churches have been reconstructed after they were destroyed during WWII, but in the case of St. Georg this was done without its Baroque additions.
St. Maria Lyskirchen: (left) rear side; (right) portal
In the later German work carving comes to the aid
of the designer. (..) It is a
curious jumble of archaic and progressive art, in which
the architecture remains stubbornly Romanesque, but
admits decorative features of the new style which had
been developed across the frontier in France (you may wish to see the reliefs which decorate Romanesque churches at Arles and Saint-Gilles). Jackson
St. Maria Lyskirchen is named after a Lisolph who founded it in 948, but it was rebuilt in the early XIIIth century. Its towers were redesigned in the XIXth century; in the same period a cycle of XIIIth century paintings depicting episodes of the Old and New Testament was discovered in the ceiling of the nave. The building and in particular its Romanesque portal were not significantly damaged during WWII; the portal has a multifoil arch decoration which brings to mind Moorish or MudÚjar buildings in Spain.
St. Maria Lyskirchen: fresco of the ceiling of St. Catherine's Chapel depicting the martyrdom of the saint: (left) angels destroy the wheel she was tied to; (right) her breasts are pierced
You may wish to see a page on the Romanesque churches of Segovia.
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The Pope has always a nuncio here to take care of his interest with the Roman catholic electors. (..) Among the public buildings there are seven collegiate churches, nineteen parish churches besides the cathedral, thirty chapels, a great number of monasteries and nunneries with four large hospitals. (..) From the multitude of relics of saints and martyrs as well as of churches and religious houses in this place it has obtained the name of the Holy City.
Thomas Nugent - The Grand Tour - 1749
Cologne retains also a number of churches which are very evocative of Baroque Rome ant its pomp.
(left) St. Maria Himmelfahrt; (right) entrance to the adjoining Jesuit College
The Jesuits church is a very fine building in which there are some capitals of a modern invention, that succeed better than most of such as differ from the ancients. Nugent
The Jesuits' Church is a gorgeous combination of Gothic and Italian architecture. Murray
St. Maria Himmelfahrt - interior
A multitude of People were gather d thither; many Coaches stood about the Door and we were crowded in going in before they begun. We got into one of the Galleries where we could see all that was done without complying. The whole Service was perform d in Musick, but it begun and ended with a general singing ˛f the whole Congregation which I had not seen before among the Romanists. And that which made this the more charming was this: The Jesuites had planted all their Scholars, which were a great Number in the Allies of the Three Isles of the Church; there they kneel d in Rows from one end to the other of the Church which is a large one. They were taught to sing and perhaps had some to lead them. They sung very exactly in time with the Organ and other Musick and made alto gether a very pleasant Harmony. (..) While the Service was performing we could observe the Church. The Priest who officiated was cover d with a very rich Cope; on which one could see nothing but Gold and Silver. Had we been near enough, perhaps we might have seen store of Pearls set in the embroidery which sometimes poor Men, the Priests of the Church of Rome, are wont to have. (..) The Ornament before the Altar was Cloth of Silver, but with a broad and thick embroidery of Gold laid upon it, in the form of three or four great Arches or Portals. (..) The Architecture of Marble above the Altar is in three Stories, as it were every one somewhat less from the lowermost; they include three Pictures, one above another, which have on each side of them Pillars and Angels and some Images of Saints; much of the carv d Work was gilded with Gold. It look d all together extremely beautiful, and reaches to the top of the Church, which is of a good Height. Dorrington
You may wish to see the altars of Chiesa del Ges¨ in Rome.
St. Gregorius im Elend, the chapel of a cemetery with a very Roman Memento Mori decoration
Return to Romanesque Churches - page one.
Plan of this section:
Ahrweiler and its Roman Villa
Bad Kreuznach and its Roman Villa
Boppard (Bodobrica) and the Rhine Gorge
Cologne (Colonia Agrippina)
Igel, Nennig and the Mosel Valley
Trier (Augusta Treverorum)
Xanten (Castra Vetera and Colonia Ulpia Traiana)
Aachen: Palatine Chapel
Cologne: Romanesque Churches
Limburg an der Lahn