Cologne Sacral City

Looking at the skyline of Cologne, the most prominent feature that you can see is: churches. Lots and lots of churches. Cologne has over 200 churches, mostly Catholic. And its most famous one is, of course, the Cologne Cathedral. Churches such as Great St. Martin Church, St. Gereon, St. Apostel or St. Ursula aren't less-important. The churches belong to Cologne's identity as well as the Kölsch or Carnival - no matter how religiously Cologne's inhabitants are even today.

New Central Mosque in Cologne-Ehrenfeld (still under construction).

Since a couple of years, a new member in that family of imposing sacral buildings is joining and growing: The new Cologne Central Mosque. Cologne had its difficulties to regain a sense for its own architecture since the end of World War II. The post-war constructional activity of the city is defined by convenience rather than by architectural concepts. But sometimes they do exist, the precious pearls that stand out from that structural expediency. A good example is the Rheinauhafen (see, e.g., Cologne City in the Clouds / September 2013). And the new mosque is fully legitimate to be counted among these urban treasures.

The new place of worship is built in Cologne-Ehrenfeld (at Venloer Straße / Innere Kanalstraße). The mosque is planned in the Ottoman architecture style with a concrete / glass dome of 35 m and two high minarets of 55 m. It will have a prayer area for >1,200 worshippers, a bazaar, lecture halls and a library. The architectural plans are submitted by the architects Gottfried und Paul Böhm. Building owner is the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Türkisch-Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion e.V. or Turkish: Diyanet Işleri Türk-Islam Birliği, DİTİB). 

The construction work began in 2009, many parts are already finished. But due to disagreements between the client and the architects the partnership between the two was terminated in 2012. Since then there is a building freeze because of the litigation between the two parties. The administrative offices are already finished and in use, while the mosque is unfinished yet. It is still unclear when the building will be finished. At least the major representative plaza between mosque and administrative building should be inaugurated this year according to an announcement of the DİTİB.

The ongoing lawsuit is unworthy for the construction of such a beautiful building with its central religious importance. As a result, the construction is delayed since almost 3 years. But, compared to the construction time of the Cologne Cathedral (from 1248 to 1880, 632 years!) this is just a short period of time - so far. 

Even in its nearly-completed state, the mosque fits into the cityscape. And even though it is not a Catholic church, it completes the multicultural identity of the city as a home for all world religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It is a building of which all inhabitants of Cologne can be proud of.