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Blick über den Rhein auf den Kölner Dom, Bild: ESB Professional / shutterstock

Cologne – indomitable city on the Rhine

Everything is a bit crooked and too small, the atmosphere Mediterranean-loud – light, casual and life-affirming. Cologne is not a chic Micki city, here it is down-to-earth.

Churches, pubs, carnival – the three “Cs” have made the city famous. The wealth coupled with piety transformed Cologne into a major construction site immediately after the turn of the millennium. At that time, the numerous churches and monasteries were built, which earned the city the name “hilliges Coellen” and still dominate its silhouette today.

The Rome of the North has a lot more to offer than the three glamorous “Cs”.

Cologne: “Do boes en Stadt met Liev und Siel”

Cologne Kranhaus
The crane houses, Image: Denis Topal / shutterstock

Vis-à-vis Cologne Cathedral is a high-rise building with a special viewing platform. From the Triangle there is a beautiful view over the entire city over 100 meters. This view is also an inspiration to conquer Cologne in all its glory.

At the Hohenzollern Bridge, which crosses the Rhine, you first admire the countless love locks. To seal the love, the lovers then throw the key into the Rhine.

Art, one could say, is as much a part of life in Cologne as it is daily bread. The city has numerous museums that make Cologne a cultural metropolis.

No less famous than the carnival in Rio are the Cologne Rose Monday parades, which are the highlight of the carnival on the Rhine.

A walk along the Rhine is a must for every visitor. The river belongs to the city like the cathedral. It turned Cologne into a trading metropolis and it shapes the attitude to life of the Cologne resident, who is famous for his conviviality.

Tip: At night, there is a fascinating view of the cathedral, town hall and the Groß-St. Martin-Kirche from the Deutzer Ufer on the right bank of the Rhine.

Cologne – Where the stones make history

It was the Romans who wrote the first chapter of Cologne’s history. Cologne is the only one of the Roman foundations on the Lower Rhine to have retained outstanding and supra-regional importance over the millennia. For almost 2000 years, the city has always been a kind of capital. Not even the Vikings could change this when they also attacked Cologne in 881. Some things have been preserved from Roman times, such as the 14-metre-high pillar tomb of Poblicius and the Roman tower on Zeughausstraße.

On the south side of the cathedral is the Roman-Germanic Museum, which opened in 1974. It houses important collections of ancient art and culture.

On the Alter Markt, the historic town hall with a magnificent Renaissance vestibule bears witness to Cologne’s importance as a European metropolis of the Middle Ages. 124 figures from Cologne’s city history adorn the tower of the Gothic town hall. Attention: Every full hour, a creepy guy with a floppy hat sticks his tongue out at everyone.

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Directly in front of it, other historical epochs become visible – remains of the Roman Stadtholderpalast and the later Jewish quarter.

Also just a stone’s throw away from the town hall on the banks of the Rhine is the mighty Romanesque Great St. Martin’s Church with the crossing tower and the striking cloverleaf choir.

In addition, the Church of St. Mary in the Capitoline Hill and the Church of St. Peter are worth a visit. The most important early modern secular building in Cologne is considered to be the Gürzenich, built from 1441-47 as a merchant and festival house. This reflects bourgeois self-confidence.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral
Image: Thanutta / shutterstock

The world-famous Cologne Cathedral is almost symbolic of the energy, perseverance and courage to face life of the city and its inhabitants. With its characteristic twin towers, it is considered Cologne’s trademark par excellence. It was to become the largest church in Christendom – and remained the most gigantic construction site in Europe for centuries. After a construction period of 632 years, the work was finally completed in 1880 with the installation of the finial. Magnificent and mighty, it forms the center of the city. For more than nine years, it was the tallest building in the world.

Opening hours Cologne Cathedral Opening hours daily November – April 6.00 am – 7.30 pm May – October 6.00 am – 9.00 pm Visits on Sundays and public holidays 1.00 pm – 4.30 pm
The bombs of the Second World War caused severe damage to the church, which was repaired by 1956.

Cologne was badly destroyed in the Second World War. The city gives an impressive testimony to the time between economic crisis and reconstruction. The eventful political events in Germany in the 20th century are reflected on a small scale in the history of the city of Cologne. Many modern developments are inextricably linked with the name of Konrad Adenauer. The mayor at the time was a stroke of luck for Cologne. In the years between the world wars, he paved Cologne’s way into modernity.

It’s all in the mix – Dürer, Rembrandt and Picasso

The Rhine metropolis owes its wealth of museums to the great passion for collecting of its citizens. Cologne’s museums cover a wide range of topics. Institutions such as the Museum Ludwig enjoy a good international reputation for their holdings. The museum is known beyond the borders of the city and was named after the art collectors Irene and Peter Ludwig. In the immediate vicinity of the cathedral, it presents art from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Visitors can enjoy an impressive overview of the areas of drawing, painting, photography and sculpture. The focus is on works of Expressionism and the Russian avant-garde. Among other things, the oeuvre of Pablo Picasso is represented.

Opening hours Wallraf-Richartz-Muesum Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 1st & 3rd Thursday of the month: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. on public holidays: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 1, Ascension Day, Corpus Christi, Whit Monday, Day of German Unity (Oct. 3), Reformation Day (Oct. 31), All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), Christmas Day CologneDay at Wallraf: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. On the first Thursday of every month (except public holidays), the City of Cologne invites all its citizens to visit the permanent collections and the special exhibitions of the city’s museums free of charge. The identity card is valid as an admission ticket. Closed on Mondays As well as on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Eve and the carnival days: 11.11., Weiberfastnacht, Carnival Sunday & Shrove Monday.
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No less impressive is the Wallraf-Richartz-Muesum with the most extensive collection of medieval Cologne paintings. German masters such as Dürer and Cranach can be admired as well as the painters Rembrandt and Rubens.

The eight municipal museums that establish Cologne’s reputation as a metropolis of art and culture have all emerged from civic foundations.

Media metropolis as superlatives

Cologne can look back on a long tradition as a stronghold of media companies. Art bookstores, printers and many magazine and newspaper publishers have been based in the Rhine metropolis for more than 100 years. Over time, a varied media landscape has been able to develop. The largest part of Cologne’s media industry is made up of radio and television companies.

Cologne doesn’t just call itself the “Media City on the Rhine”, but is the European media hub and the TV capital of Germany .

Last but not least: the most beautiful districts and pubs in the Rhine metropolis of Cologne

The best pubs and neighbourhoods in Cologne

Cologne: Best Locations

If you want to get to know the people of Cologne from their open fawn side, you don’t have to wait until Carnival, where things are really great, especially on Shrove Monday. In each of the many pubs you can feel comfortable with them when the “Köbes” (waiter) serves the brown Kölsch.

There is no doubt that Cologne is a city with a high recreational value. On their way to the countless restaurants and bars on the Rhine promenade, guests embark on a culinary journey around the world.

The most urban district with the charm of a fashion metropolis is located in southern Norstadt-Nord. In the “Belgian Quarter” countless boutiques, small shops, cozy restaurants and great galleries invite you to linger. There is an incredible amount to discover. Why Belgian Quarter? Quite simply: the street names of the trendy district refer to Belgian provinces and cities.

Ehrenfeld, probably the hippest district of Cologne, is no less inspiring. On weekends, the club landscape becomes one big party zone. Hip, multicultural and alternative – artists, nerds and families feel equally at home here.

Cologne is just “Kölle” – exciting, versatile and above all real!

Cologne is exciting, versatile and above all real!

Cologne is just “Kölle”

Tip: A look at the left bank of the Rhine, the “schäl Sick”, is also worthwhile. Here, the mighty neo-Romanesque building of the “Deutzer Domes” houses the Heribertschrein, probably the most valuable piece of the church treasure of the former Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael. South of Cologne lies Augustusburg Castle in Brühl, framed by a French garden with strict lines, surrounded by forest.


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