One thing is certain: Cologne touches everyone! The metropolis on the Rhine brings people, fashions, exhibitions, and architecture together that might be considered incompatible opposites anywhere else. Said to be the oldest city in Germany after being raised to city status under the name of Colonia by the Romans around 50 AD, it still keeps an open mind for anything new today. Let us show you where loud meets quiet, old meets new, and light meets dark in Cologne.
The city’s hub
The cathedral and its treasures
Anyone arriving by train and stepping out of the station building for the first time will find themselves stopping short in amazement. Nobody has been able to escape the impression of the powerful Cologne cathedral yet. Inside the Gothic sacred building, a church window created by Gerhard Richter stands out in particular in addition to the golden reliquary of the Three Magi. Its glass, designed in innumerable colour squares arranged like pixels, is an impressive eye-catcher. Its effect is heightened when the sun shines through it. Outside the cathedral, the pedestrian zone with its Schildergasse and Hohe Straße shopping miles adds the perfectly secular attraction of big brands and fashion stores.
Cologne and its “Veedel”
Open-air art and carnival
While the cathedral and city centre may form the city’s core, the city’s nature draws from its many different districts, called the “Veedel” in the Cologne dialect. One of them is the Belgian quarter, where designer shops alternate with trendy cafés and bars, typically housed in stylish old buildings. Anyone looking for unusual new favourite clothing, shoes, or accessories will surely find something to their taste here. Then there is the Südstadt, where Cologne traditions are kept alive even outside of carnival. It maintains a typical culture of outdoor seating in the streets around Chlodwigplatz, where coffee and Kölsch beer are enjoyed in the fresh air even in the colder seasons. Along the Südstadt border, the Rheinauhafen is both the most recent and the most modern, but also one of the most exclusive city quarters. The former harbour district has developed into a new attraction, especially for photography enthusiasts, with its architectural highlights: three crane houses around 60 metres tall, made of glass and shaped reminiscent of cargo cranes. Ehrenfeld is another place loved by visitors for its great photo spots. Gigantic murals and graffiti are as much a part of the cityscape there as are streets decorated in colourful garlands. The old town with its historical buildings and traditional breweries is worth a visit, too.
A wide range of museums
Art, sport, and chocolate
Of course, Cologne has art away from the streets as well. The city has numerous museums with a variety of specialisations, be they the works of the old masters, contemporary art, or top athletic achievements. While the Wallraff-Richartz-Museum and the Museum Ludwig delight art lovers, the Deutsches Sport & Olympia Museum (German sport & Olympia museum) and the Schokoladenmuseum (chocolate museum) offer athletic laurels and sweet treats respectively. The “Kolumba”, the art museum of the archdiocese of Cologne, is a special cultural venue describing itself as a “museum of contemplation”. It provides moments of silence in the middle of the city, among other places in its inner courtyard where a lost medieval cemetery used to be. The building itself combines the old and the new as well, integrating the ruins of a church destroyed in World War II into its walls.
Cosy places along the Rhine
Anyone longing for relaxation and fresh air after all this culture will find themselves spoilt for choice among the parks and gardens scattered throughout the city and offering large and small quiet zones alike. The green belt alone, created where fortifications used to stand, encompasses large parks for sports, games, picnics, or barbecues.
Taking a break on or near the Rhine is particularly refreshing. Sandy beaches and boathouses transformed into floating beer gardens offer visitors a holiday feeling by the water. The same applies to the other side of the Rhine as well, where the Rheinboulevard Deutz just across from the cathedral provides a beautiful location. In particular in the evening, it offers a magnificent view of the old-town panorama, the cathedral, and the setting sun. The large open staircase is best accessed on foot via the Hohenzollern bridge, past the countless love locks left behind by couples there.