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The Catholic Church of St. Gero, located in the north of old Cologne, is the oldest in the city. The church is presented in the form of a three-aisled Romanesque basilica. The defining element of the structure – 10-sided dome-decagon, located in the western part of the building.
In the era of Ancient Rome, there was a necropolis on this site, on the territory of which a chapel-martyrium was erected in the 4th century (a religious building, usually built on the site of the burial or death of the martyr). However, many scholars are inclined to believe that this structure was not a martyrium, but was only a mausoleum or an early Christian church.
In the eastern part of the martyrium there was a semicircular apse, in the western part – three-story lobby. The dome of the building was oval. The chapel was decorated with marble panels and columns, the dome was covered with golden mosaics. In general, the martyrium was similar to the Roman temple of Minerva.
The church of St. Gero was built on fragments of the martyrium. Today, the remains of a Roman structure can be seen in the walls of the southern apses and in the floor mosaics.
From the end of the 5th century, the church was Christian, and was called the Golden Sanctuary. During the reign of the Merovingians, the church was one of the most significant temples of the Frankish state. There is an opinion that this temple was the burial place of the Frankish rulers. It is known for certain that Hildebold, the first archbishop of Cologne, was buried here in 818.
In 839, a monastery was founded at the temple. In the 1060s, construction work was carried out in the building, during which a crypt was erected and the church choir was lengthened. The next construction work took place in 1156, at that time two towers were built and the altar part was rebuilt. In 1190, a reliquary was built in the church crypt in the church crypt. In 1191 the church was consecrated in honor of Saint Gero – Archbishop of Cologne.
At the beginning of the 13th century, a decagon dome was built, which at that time was considered one of the largest in the world. In the middle of the XIII century, a baptistery, made in the late Romanesque style, was added to the church on the south side, and at the beginning of the XIV century – sacristy. The huge organ was installed in the Decagon in 1550.
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Topic: Church of St. Gero in Germany, resort of Cologne.