Great St. Martin Church

Check out the Romanesque architecture of the church and former Benedictine abbey that has defined Cologne’s Old Town skyline since medieval times.

With its magnificent crossing tower and triple-apse structure, Cologne’s Great St. Martin Church (Groß Sankt Martin) is a beautiful relic of the city’s ancient history. Stroll around the enormous Roman Catholic church and take in views of its ornate architecture. Established in the 10th century on the ruins of Roman warehouses, the church has undergone several transformations in its long history and has survived fires, bombings and the changing cityscape.

Approach the church from its spacious courtyard to appreciate the structure’s elegant design. You’ll see the soaring church’s triple-apse choir flanked by pretty multicolored façades of neighboring buildings and the steadfast crossing tower. The monastery was established in the 10th and 11th centuries, but the Romanesque design that you see today was constructed in the 12th century after fires destroyed much of the building.

Check out the rounded apses that meet on the eastern end of the nave to create a cloverleaf shape. If you look carefully, you’ll see that these are careful reconstructions. The church was badly bombed in World War II and meticulously rebuilt between the 1960s and ’80s.

Enter the church to see its beautifully restored interiors. The grand nave’s upper part is an excellent example of Rhenish architecture, while the minimal furnishings suggest the building’s past as a Benedictine monastery. As you walk through the aisles, imagine the Ancient Roman ruins and medieval burial sites beneath your feet.

Cologne’s Great St. Martin Church is situated in the heart of the city’s Old Town district, on the banks of the Rhine River. Add the church to your list of walking tour destinations and see nearby Gothic, Romanesque and medieval landmarks, such as the Historic Town Hall (Historisches Rathaus), the Old Market (Alter Markt), Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), as well as several museums. The church is free to enter; however, it is asked that visitors respect worshippers and refrain from visiting during services by the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem. The church is a 5-minute walk north from Old Town’s Heumarkt station.

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