St. Pantaleon Church, Cologne
The Church of St. Pantaleon is one of the oldest of the 12 Romanesque churches in Cologne. Dedicated to a Greek martyr and built over the ruins of a Roman villa, the present building dates from the 10th century.
History of St. Pantaleon Church
Before Christianity arrived, a Roman villa stood on this site. Remains of this can still be seen in the east part of the crypt. Around 870 AD, a church was built over the ruins of the Roman villa in honor of the Greek martyr St. Pantaleon.
In 957, Archbishop Bruno of Cologne, brother of Emperor Otto the Great, founded a Benedictine abbey next to the Church of St. Pantaleon. The archbishop was buried in the existing church in 965.
A year later, in 966, construction began on a replacement church to go with the new abbey. This church had a single nave with flat roof, small east apse, Carolingian-style Westwerk, and square transepts. It was consecrated by Archbishop Warin of Cologne on October 24, 980.
Empress Theophanu (wife of Otto II) expanded the new church by adding a much larger Westwerk at the west end and an apse with crypt at the east end. The west front was decorated with sculptures of the enthroned Christ, Saints Albanus and Pantaleon, and angels, which have not survived. The renovations were complete in 996, five years after the death of the Empress, who was buried in the church (her tomb remains there today).
St. Pantaleon's Church was further renovated around 1150-60, with the addition of the side aisles and decorative flooring. In 1620-22 the east apse and nave vault were renovated. In 1890-92 the Westwerk was reconstructed.
Napoleon and his troops dissolved the Benedictine Abbey of St. Pantaleon in 1803. The church was damaged during World War II and repair took several decades - the nave had no ceiling until 1962.
What to See at St. Pantaleon Church
The exterior of St. Pantaleon is thoroughly Romanesque, with a large Westwerk (monumental entrance hall common in imperial churches), two round west towers, decorative red-striped Lombard bands and round-headed windows. There is a corbel table along the nave exterior, but none of the corbels are carved. Entrance is through the south door, which has a round arch but no decoration.
The interior consists of a central nave (10th century), side aisles (12th century), a Westwerk (10th century) with two chapels, two square transepts (10th century) and an east apse with crypt (10th century). The nave has a flat roof decorated with squares of modern murals.
The north chapel in the Westwerk shelters the tomb of Empress Theophanu (c.991 AD), made of Greek marble. The empress sponsored the extension of St. Pantaleon Church and requested to be buried here. The south chapel centers on a small painted Pieta sculpture and a ring of candles.
The south transept is home to the St. Pantaleon altar, topped with a fine painted altarpiece. Mounted on the wall are sections of medieval murals of Christ and scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary; these were originally in the crypt and date from about 1230. From left, they depict: the Annunciation(?), the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Death of the Virgin.
Also in the south transept are two effigies of knights, a plain Lombard band, and beautifully carved acanthus-leaf capitals in the corners. The north transept is dedicated to Jose Maria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, and has a painted apse.
The front of the nave is dominated by a sumptuous Late Gothic choir screen, decorated with an array of paintings and sculptures. This is flanked by two bejewelled shrines to the church's patron saints: Albanus on the right (shrine from 1886) and Pantaleon on the left (shrine from 12th century). The east apse, which is enclosed by an iron gate and normally inaccessible, contains a large altar.
The cloisters are entered through a separate gate north of the church. Not much remains, but the few cloister arcades that do survive are the oldest in Germany. Huddled up to the north side of the church are some ancient stone sarcophagi and gravestones.
Quick Facts on St. Pantaleon Church
|Names:||Kath. Pfarrgemeinde St. Pantaleon in Köln · Katholische Kirchengemeinde St. Pantaleon · St. Pantaleon Church|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||50.928500° N, 6.948080° E|
|Address:||Am Pantaleonsberg 10a|
|Phone:||(0221) 316 655|
|Hours:||Mon-Fri 9-6; Sat 9-4; Sun 12-6|
|Lodging:||View hotels near St. Pantaleon Church|
- Personal visit (December 20, 2007).
- St. Pantaleon Köln - official website
- Sign outside the church provided by Stadt Köln
- Signboards displayed inside in the church
- Photos of St. Pantaleon Church - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of St. Pantaleon Church, Cologne
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