This 11th century church replaced a 7th century structure that in turn had replaced a roman temple. The courtyard (Lichhof) at the east end shown below covers an ancient burial ground. The statue on the right is a memorial to those who died in World War II. Like several other churches in Cologne, this church was built for the use of a Benedictine cloister founded by Archbishop Bruno, brother of Kaiser Otto I.
The public entrance to the church is through the cloister (19th, 20th century construction).
The church was severely damaged during WWII. Once elaborately painted, it has been restored to the simplicity of the early period of its existence. The ceiling of the nave is a modern replacement for the destroyed stone vaulting.
The late gothic rood screen, seen from the west above and the east below, forms an elaborate boundary between the simple nave and the elaborate cloverleaf form of the choir. Carvings in the marble represent various Biblical scenes as well as the coats of arms of donor families.
The choir has a cloverleaf or trefoil form with three large apses and the crossing which together form a large open space. Based on the design of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, St. Maria im Kapitol became the model for other churches in Cologne. The windows, though modern, portray archbishops, abbesses and saints of importance to the early history of the church.
The side aisles of the nave connect to an ambulatory surrounding the chancel space. Walking the aisles reveals a kaleidoscopic variation of lines and curves.