Cologne Cathedral Treasury is the
biggest and perhaps the richest in Germany.
It originally developed as a collection of
relics; in the Middle Ages the relics were seen as the real
treasure, the costliness and artistic value of their settings
being of secondary importance.
The treasury’s contents reflect the
vicissitudes of the cathedral’s history; it has suffered losses
from robberies and has received gifts from bishops, popes and
It is not a museum in the conventional
sense, as practically all the objects on display are still in
It occupies two bays on the east side of the north transept and
contains chalices, monstrances, reliquaries, liturgical vestments, manuscripts, silk materials
from the relics of the Three Kings, and many other precious objects, including some early
examples of Christian art that are over 1000 years old.
The legendary crosier of St Peter (10th–16th centuries), a symbol of the apostolic
succession of the archbishops of Cologne, together with the Gothic monstrance–shrine containing
three links from St Peter’s chain, were carried before the archbishops in processions.
The Shrine of the Cross of Cologne is an early 12th-century Byzantine triptych
donated by the Byzantine EmperorAlexios I Komnenos; it contains a fragment of the True
Other notable possessions include one of the finest surviving Late Gothic
monstrances, made in Cologne around 1400 and donated in 1846 by Maria Theresia von
Schaaffhausen, and a processional crucifix on which is a figure of Christ with fine enamels,
made at Limoges in the 12th century.
The most famous possession of the treasury has from early times been the golden
Shrine of the Three Kings, attributed to Nicholas of Verdun and his workshop. The treasury also
contains some outstanding medieval illuminated manuscripts, such as the Limburg Gospels from
Reichenau. The Treasure Chamber is open for visitors all year round and the entrance fee costs 5
euros per adult, but a family ticket can be purchased for 10 euros.