Cologne - The City of Churches and Museums
The city at the Rhine is one of Germany's most popular metropolises. With the landmark of Cologne Cathedral, its 2,000-year-old history, the many scared buildings and its significant museums, Cologne makes culture and history enthusiasts' hearts leap for joy.
Geography - The city at the Rhine
Cologne is a big city in North Rhine-Westphalia and lies in the west of Germany. With an area of 405.16 km² and over a million inhabitants, the city at the Rhine is the fourth biggest in the country after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. It is divided into 9 districts with 85 city parts. Cologne has several large green spaces, most of which are parks within the city. In the outer areas, you find many forests, which take up 15 percent of the city area and serve as local recreation areas for the locals. In addition, there are 22 nature reserves, which are home to various animal and plant species. Due to the position in the Cologne Bay (also "Cologne Lowland"), a funnel-shaped river landscape which is dominated by the Rhine, the city has a relatively mild climate.
Culture - Cologne Cathedral, Eau de Cologne and art museums
Cologne's nearly 2,000-year-old history is apparent from numerous historical buildings and streets. Its most significant sight is without doubt Cologne Cathedral with the Shrine of the Three Kings. The Gothic building, which is 157 metres high, is not only the city's landmark but also the best-known architectural monument in the whole of Germany. Other worthwhile attractions are the City Hall, the Praetorium, the Overstolzenhaus and the Gürzenich, which was used to receive kings and princes in the past and is now used for different kinds of events. Cologne is most of all a city of churches because there are twelve Romanesque abbey and monastery churches in the city centre alone, which are among the most significant ones in Europe. Examples are Great St. Martin Church, the Basilica of St. Ursula, the Basilica of the Holy Apostles, the Basilica of St. Severin, St. Pantaleon's Church and St. Maria im Kapitol. There are also baroque churches with St. Maria in der Kupfergasse as a worthwhile example. Besides the many sacred buildings, Cologne has a great number of museums. Important examples are the Museum Ludwig (for modern art), the Romano-Germanic Museum, the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum (a chocolate museum), the Wallraf-Richartz Museum (an art gallery) and the Fragrance Museum. The latter is located in the Farinahaus, the birthplace of Eau de Cologne. The Kölnisch-Wasser ("Cologne water") with the number 4711 is one of Germany's best-known brand-name products. In addition, Cologne is one of the leading cities in the international art trade.
Experience - Medieval buildings, Kölsch and carnival
Cologne's inhabitants are proud of their city, which they call "Kölle", their language and their beer Kölsch. The city fascinates with a mix of medieval and modern architecture. The colourful houses in the Martinswinkel in the old town are definitely worth seeing. Cologne is famous for its 5th season, the carnival. Millions of people visit the city at the Rhine every year to experience this colourful spectacle. The city offers many opportunities for going shopping, parties and spoiling one's taste buds. You get a feel for the city in its old town, which is full of quaint pubs, great breweries and numerous traditional and international restaurants, which serve typical local specialities. Such specialities are Himmel un Äad (fried sausages with potato mash and apples), Halve Hahn (thick slices of Gouda cheese on rye buns), Hämchen met suure Kappes (salted pork leg with sauerkraut) and Rievkooche (a Rhenish potato dish). The main shopping miles are the Schildergasse, Breite Straße, Ehrenstraße and Hohe Straße. The latter is one of the most frequented shopping miles in Germany. Night crawlers can start their night in one of the many pubs in the old town and move on to the clubs and discos in popular nightlife districts such as the Martinsviertel, Severinsviertel, Ehrenfeld, Mülheim or the student district called "Kwartier Latäng".
Activities - Leisure activities at the Rhine
There is no room for boredom in Cologne because the city at the Rhine has a lot to offer. While you can go hiking and cycling in the surroundings, the city itself offers numerous leisure activities like golfing, riding, climbing, walking and karting. You can even do water sports and go swimming at Bleibtreusee. The Rhine has beautiful beaches for going bathing or playing beach volleyball. You can enjoy the sunset with a view of the city's old town here on mild summer and autumn evenings. One highlight is a ride on the Rheinseilbahn, which crosses the river near the Zoobrücke. In winter, travellers can go skiing, tobogganing or ice skating. Great destinations for family trips are Cologne Zoological Garden, the Wildgehege Brück or Lindenthal, the Wildpark Dünnwald or the Fantasialand in Brühl. Holidaymakers who want to relax should visit the Botanical Garden, the Forstbotanischer Garten or the Rheinpark.
No matter if you want to arrive by car, bus, train, plane or ship, you have a free choice in Cologne. The city's location at the Rhine and its excellent traffic connections to the street and rail network make reaching it very easy. Travellers who arrive at Cologne Bonn Airport can continue their journey into the city centre in the S-Bahn (a city train) or a regional train.
Cologne is one of Germany's top city trip destinations and rightly so. The mix of historical charm, modern architecture and a variety of cultural sights make the city very appealing. Besides excellent shopping facilities and party locations, the city at the Rhine offers many places where travellers can relay and unwind.