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The cathedral was built between 1200 and 1513. From a present-day perspective, a construction period of more than three hundred years seems like an eternity. But taking into account the building conditions of the past centuries, Freiburg Cathedral was completed in a relatively short period of time. (By way of comparison, Ulm Minster was built in 500 years.) Freiburg Cathedral is among the earliest Gothic churches that were, more or less, completed in the Middle Ages. Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen, initiated the construction of the cathedral, as the original parish church situated on the same site had become too small for the growing population. Initially Romanesque-style Basel Minster in Switzerland served as the model for the new cathedral (the transept was predominantly built in this style), before Gothic elements started to dominate after 1230.

Wegen umfangreicher Sanierungsmaßnahmen in der Türmerstube und im Glockenturm bleibt der Turm im ganzen Jahr 2017 für den Besucherverkehr geschlossen.

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For a long time the cathedral did not belong to the Catholic church, as from 1250 onwards the citizens of Freiburg took over responsibility by establishing numerous charities, and at the end of the 19th century a single charity was founded in support of the preservation of the cathedral. Considering the severe destruction of Freiburg by air strikes during the Second World War, it is almost a miracle that the steeple still exists. The stained-glass windows, which were partly donated by the craft guilds, were preserved in their original state as well, as they were removed during the war and kept in a safe place, in anticipation of air strikes. The artist Fritz Geiges was responsible for the restoration of the windows around 1900, and he also added some new ones, a decision that aroused widespread criticism at the time.    There is a one-hour guided tour on offer on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays at 14.00 pm, at the price of 5 Euros. Advance reservation not required.