Cologne – the proud, friendly city with rich cultural life

Cologne (German: Köln) is the fourth largest city in Germany. It lies on the banks of river Rhein, in North Rhine-Westphalia. Being founded by Romans in the 1st century, it is one of the oldest cities in Germany. Cologne has rich cultural life, over 30 museums and hundreds of art galleries. The Trade Fair Grounds host Art Cologne Fair, Furniture fair and Photokina – world´s biggest trade fair for photographic and imaging industries. The city is also famous for its beer Kölsch, and Eau de Cologne, created in the beginning of the 18th century. The most prominent landmark of the city is the impressive Gothic cathedral, today a World Heritage Site.

  • Kölner Dom, with the largest reliquary in the Western world, and the Shrine of Three Wise Men, as its crown jewel. It is possible to climb the 157 meters high south tower.
  • 12 Romanesque Churches.
  • Museum Ludwig, a modern art museum near the Cathedral.
  • Veedel - City Quarters, especially bohemian Agnesviertel, with plenty of independent designers, bookshops, bars, and art galleries.
  • JavaMuseum - collections of Internet based art.
  • Köln Triangle Tower – with viewing platform; view over the cathedral and the Rhine.
  • Die Kölner Synagoge with its interesting architecture.
  • Schokoladen Museum, dedicated exclusively to the production process of chocolate.

Food & drink
The typical Rheinland dishes are rustic but tasty. Try for instance fried black pudding with mashed potatoes, apple sauce and fried onions, called Himmel und Äd mit Flönz; big Schweinshaxe - pig's leg; or  Soorbrode / Sauerbraten: meat marinated in vinegar with raisins, served with red cabbage and a dumpling.
There are plenty of food stands and restaurants serving international food too.
The typical Cologne beer  - Kölsch  - is served in small glasses, continuously, until you finally cover your empty glass with the coaster, the same one on which the waiter has been leaving pen marks in order to keep track of the amount of glasses you got.

Things to Do
  • Winter carnival with parades.
  • Cologne Summer carnival – a big reggae jam.
  • Christopher Street Day – large LGBT parade.
  • Unsichtbar – visitors are served food in complete darkness by private butlers.
  • Spa, massage, saunas; for instance Claudius Therme or Neptunbad.
  • The Rococco Augustusburg Palace in Brühl.
Getting here and getting around
By air:
Cologne Bonn Airport. 15 minutes travel by local train (S-Bahn) to the center of Cologne.
From Düsseldorf International Airport a train ride will take approx. 40 minutes; and from the largest airport in Germany, Frankfurt Rhein Main International Airport, a travel time by the speed train is under 1 hour.

By train/ bus
Cologne has two railway stations, Köln Hauptbahnhof and Köln-Deutz. The international bus station is situated next to Hauptbahnhof.

By car:
The city centre is a Low Emission Zone, "Umweltzone", and special stickers on cars are required there. There are many park & ride parking lots; the city has a very good network of subway, trams and buses. A “Call a Bike” system is an option too. Moreover, the majority of the tourist attractions in the centre are within walking distance from each other.

Seasonal and day-to-day changes, the weather is comparable to that of the UK and north of France.  The hottest month is July, the coldest one – February. Snow is seldom.
Time zone: UTC (GMT)+1. Daytime saving time (DST) is observed.
Currency: Euro (EUR, €).

Cologne was founded by the Romans in 38 BC. The city (then called by Claudius´ wife Agrippina “Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium" obtained municipal rights in 50 AD as capital of a Roman province. The Romans were finally driven from there in the beginning of 5th century by Franks. Cologne was also besieged by the Huns. According to the legend, it was freed by the holy Ursula accompanied by 11,000 virgins returning from a pilgrimage.
In 800 AD, Cologne was declared archbishopric by Carl the Great. In 1164, Archbishop Rainald von Dassel transferred the relics of the Three Wise Men to the city, making it a major pilgrimage destination. In 1248, the construction of the cathedral started; Cologne was by then enjoying the status of "Rome of the North". In addition, the exclusive right - "Stapelrecht" required all ships travelling the Rhine to store their merchandise in the city, and the citizens had the preemptive right on these goods. During the Middle Ages Cologne kept its position of a center for international trade; the merchants sponsored many Romanesque and Gothic churches that were built then. However, the construction of the cathedral itself was stopped in 1560, and resumed first after 282 years.

When in 1794 the French seized Cologne, there were few traces of the splendor left. Poverty, desolation, and the domination of the Catholic Church, that owned two thirds of the land, had to be stopped. The Church was expropriated and Protestants and Jews were let in into the city. Cologne got its first hospital, street lighting, sewerage and waste disposal. Cologne was turned over to Prussia after the Vienna Treaty in 1815.

In the Second World War, 72 percent of the city was destroyed, but the cathedral (finished in 1880) still stranded. The reconstruction works took 30 years.


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