Augsburg Cathedral

Augsburg Cathedral is an 11th-century Romanesque cathedral with 14th-century Gothic additions in Bavaria, Germany. It contains many notable artworks, including the oldest stained glass windows in the country.


History of Augsburg Cathedral

It is possible a church has stood here since the 4th century: foundations from this date have been found beneath the cathedral, but it is not clear the building was a church. The first known cathedral on this site was built in the late 8th century and the first written mention of it is in 822.

The cathedral was damaged during the Hungarian invasions and restored under Bishop Ulrich in 923. The west end collapsed in 994 and was rebuilt with the help of Empress Adelaide, who claimed to have foreseen the destruction in a vision.

Construction on the present Romanesque cathedral began under Bishop Henry IIin 1043 and was completed under his successor in 1065. This building still forms the core of the cathedral, although much of it was given a Gothic makeover from 1331 to 1431. The east choir is a fully Gothic addition of 1356-1431.

Iconoclasts seized and destroyed most of the cathedral's religious art during the Protestant Reformation (1537-48), some of which was restored later. The north tower was heightened in 1565.

The interior was given the Baroque treatment in 1655-58, then reversed in in 1852-63 to restore it to a romanticized vision of its medieval appearance. More medieval artworks were brought in to complete the effect. The Neo-Gothic elements were removed in 1934.

Augsburg Cathedral was fairly lucky in World War II; only the Lady Chapel and cloister were damaged. Extensive restorations of the interior were undertaken in 1983-84.

What to See at Augsburg Cathedral

Augsburg Cathedral is a three-aisled basilica with a Romanesque nave and west choir and a Gothic east choir. Two square towers near the east end are topped with copper spires. The cathedral is made primarily of red brick.

In the plaza south of the cathedral are the extensive foundations of the 10th-century St. John's Church. Displayed at the west end of these are some Roman artifacts found nearby.

The south portal (1356) into the east choir is elaborately carved with sculptures, depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary on the tympanum, figures of apostles on the jambs, and the Virgin Mary on the central column.

The tympanum of the north portal (1343) is simpler and has been moved inside the cathedral. It depicts the Annunciation, Birth of Christ, Adoration of the Magi, and Death and Coronation of the Virgin. Standing figures from the north portal are also displayed inside.

The south portal into the west choir contains modern bronze doors by Max Faller installed in 2000. These replace Romanesque bronze doors (1065), which are now protected in Augsburg's Diocesan Museum (since 2002). Quite different from those at Hildesheim Cathedral (1015), the 35 panels are relatively plain with just a single figure occupying the space, making it somewhat difficult to identify the scenes.

One side depicts Old Testament stories: the creation of Eve and her presentation to Adam; the Garden of Eden with the Serpent; Moses seizing his rod transformed into a serpent; the miracle wrought by Aaron upon the rods of the Egyptians; Samson rending the lion and Samson slaying the Philistines.

The other side seems to depict New Testament parables - the woman who lost a piece of silver; the birds of heaven; a vineyard - and Old Testament predecessors of Christ including Melchizedek, Moses, Aaron, David, Judas Maccabaeus and the Prophets. Lions and centaurs represent evil.

The interior is not very harmonious due to its combination of styles and various additions, but is interesting in its details. The wide Romanesque nave (11th century) is whitewashed and painted with brick outlines except for a faded 11th-century frieze painted along the top of the wall. The nave has a ribbed Gothic vault.

The east choir is Gothic (1356-1431), with an ambulatory and many side chapels. There is also a west choir, raised higher than the nave. Under the west choir is a crypt dating from the 10th century.

The Lady Chapel is a Baroque addition of 1720-21, badly damaged in World War II and restored in 1987-88. The dome frescoes are replicas of the originals by Johann Georg Bergmüller.

The south clerestory contains the oldest stained glass windows in Germany: portraits of the prophets Jonah, Daniel, Hosea, Moses and David from the late 11th or early 12th century. There is more medieval stained glass, of later date, in the south aisle.

Other notable sights inside Augsburg Cathedral include:

Quick Facts on Augsburg Cathedral

Site Information
Names:Augsburg Cathedral
Styles:Romanesque; Gothic
Dedication: Virgin Mary
Dates:1047-63; 1326-1431
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:48.372779° N, 10.896721° E
Address:Augsburg, Germany
Hours:Mon-Sat 7am-5pm; Sun noon-5pm
Lodging:View hotels near Augsburg Cathedral
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. Personal visit (March 22, 2008).
  2. James Bentley, Blue Guide Western Germany, 2nd ed. (London: A&C Black, 1995), 85.
  3. Franz von Reber, History of Medieval Art (1886), 450-51.
  4. Dom Unserer Lieben Frau (Augsburg) - German Wikipedia
  5. Cathedral (Dom) - City of Augsburg

More Information

Augsburg Cathedral, Bavaria, Germany. © Holly Hayes
Augsburg Cathedral, Bavaria, Germany. © Holly Hayes
Augsburg Cathedral, Bavaria, Germany. © Holly Hayes
Romanesque bronze doors (1065) from the south portal of Augsburg Cathedral, now in the city's Diocesan Museum. © Augsburgerle
© Holly Hayes
South portal of the Gothic east choir (1356). Augsburg Cathedral, Bavaria, Germany. © Holly Hayes
Romanesque nave with Gothic vaulting, looking east. Augsburg Cathedral, Bavaria, Germany. © Holly Hayes
South wall of the nave, with 11th-century painted frieze and late 11th- or early 12th-century windows of... © Holly Hayes
Stained glass window of Daniel. Part of a series of five windows in the south clerestory that are the oldest... © Holly Hayes
Crypt under the west choir, 10th century. Augsburg Cathedral, Bavaria, Germany. © Holly Hayes

Map of Augsburg Cathedral

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