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UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996
Cologne Cathedral (on which work began in 1248) is one of the world's great churches, exemplifying the High Gothic cathedral style in the purest and most perfect way. The size of Cologne cathedral is presaged by the mighty pair of spires which have dominated the city and its surroundings like no other architectural work ever since they were completed in 1880. When work was finally completed in the 19th century, the cathedral was the biggest building in the world. The design of the west façade defied all convention: the biggest church façade in the world, it had a surface area of 7,000 square metres and was flanked by two mighty spires each 156 metres high.
The cathedral contains a wealth of important art works: the colourful stained glass windows that flood the cathedral with their mysterious light, the Gero cross (around 970 A.D.), the oldest large sculpture in the Western world, the shrine housing the relics of the Three Kings (1180-1225), an exceptional example of the regional goldsmiths' art and the altar of the city patrons (around 1450) by Stephan Lochner, the masterpiece of the Cologne school of artists.