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Bonn Basilica Bonn Cathedral (incorrectly) Bonn Minster Bonn Münster Collegiate Church of St. Cassius and St. Florentius St. Martin's Basilica
Gerhard-von-Are-Straße 5 Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia53111
Bonn  locality
Germany  country
Europe  continent
Main date(s)
11th-13th centuries
50.733495° N, 7.099721° E
0228 985 8810

Description of Bonn Münster

Bonn's Münster stands in the center of the city on the Münsterplatz and Martinsplatz, just a short walk from the train station. It has five towers in all: square flanking towers on the east end, a round central tower 315 feet (96m) high, and two slender turrets on the west end. All are topped with spires. The plain west end is one of the oldest parts of the basilica, dating from the 11th century.

Lying in the open plaza on the east end of the basilica are large sculpted heads of the Roman martyrs Cassius and Florentius, the patron saints of Bonn. They were sculpted in 2002 by Iskender Yediler, who also contributed similar sculptures of St. Benno in Munich and St. Gereon in Cologne.

The nave of the basilica dates from 1220 and is a blend of Romanesque and Gothic elements. It is illuminated by a matching set of modern stained glass windows, mostly black-and-white with a colorful central scene.

At the back (west) of the nave is a larger-than-life-sized bronze statue of St. Helen, donated by Cardinal Franz Wilhelm von Wartenberg, Provost of the Collegiate Church (1629-61). Tradition credits Helen with building the first memorial shrine on this site in the 4th century.

Most of the interior furnishings date from the Baroque and more recent periods. The baptismal font, however, dates from the 12th century. It is topped with a small representation of Noah's Ark from 1966. Near the font in the northwest corner is a painting of 1704 depicting St. Helen, Cassius, Florentius, and a view of Bonn.

The south transept features several modern murals, including a large depiction of St. Christopher. Also here is the Altar of St. John, with an alabaster relief (1608) depicting the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist and John the Evangelist writing his Gospel.

The north transept is home to a mural of 1400 depicting the Three Magi (who are said to rest in nearby Cologne Cathedral), an equestrian sculpture of St. Martin of Tours, and the effigy tomb of Ruprecht, Archbishop of Cologne (1463-78).

At the front (east) of the nave are two large Romanesque sculptures (c.1200) depicting an angel and a devil. Stairs under the chancel lead to the crypt, which is normally reserved for prayer. Here a shrine containing the relics of Cassius and Florentius stands on a stone pedestal between the eastern pillars. A locked door leads into a small cave said to be the tomb of the martyrs, but this is only opened on their feast day (October 10).

Above the crypt, the chancel dates from the 11th century and is decorated with 19th-century paintings. On the vault near the back is a mural of the Assumption of Mary from c.1300. The high altar dates from 1865 and features sculptures of Sts. Cassius, Florentius, Martin and Helen.

The apse mosaic was created in Venice 1894, based on the Byzantine Deesis motif (most notably seen in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul). The apse windows, depicting the Creation, date from 1951-52.

Holly Hayes
October 16, 2011

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