A 2,000 year-old city, Cologne, spans the Rhine River in the North Rhine – Westphalia state of Germany. It’s the region’s cultural landmark with Gothic architecture, awesome green spaces and fantastic river views.
One of the most popular landmarks in Cologne is Cologne Cathedral. The cornerstone of this cathedral was laid on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15, 1248.Since their completion in 1880 the two massive towers of the cathedral have dominated Cologne’s skyline. The northern tower at a height of 157.38 meters is taller than the southern one by 7 cm. Today this cathedral is the second-tallest structure in the city with the telecommunication tower being the first tallest. The cathedral covers practically 8,000 sq meters of floor space and can hold over 20,000 people. It has become an important pilgrimage place in Europe, housing the shrine of the Three Wise Men. There are outstanding stained-glass windows and a lot of important artworks. In 1996 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The charming narrow alleyways and traditional old houses beckon one to come strolling in the Old Town. There are many breweries, pubs and restaurants in which to relax. The Old Town of Cologne along with the Cologne Cathedral directly across the Rhine, the Romanesque Great St. Martin Church and the tower of the historic City Hall make-up the world-famous Rhine Panorama. There are many museums located here among them the Museum Ludwig, Romano-Germanic Museum and others. There are plenty of monuments and fountains to admire and historical remains. The major attractions for both residents and visitors are Alter Markt and Heumarkt, surrounded by lots of small restaurants and cafes.
Right in the middle of the Alter Markt Square is the Jan-con-Werth-Brunnen, a fountain that was built in 1884. It is in honor of Jan von Werth, who was a successful general during the Thrity Years’ War. The fountain is the creation of German sculptor Wilhelm Albermann and shows the general standing atop of a tall pedestal with allegorical statues of the Kolner Bauer and Kolner Jungfrau at the foot, representing valor and purity. There are reliefs which depict the story of the romance between Jan von Werth and Griet.
At the top of the facade of house Number 24 is the “Kallendresser”. This is a sculpture of a man with his trousers pulled down. The origin of this sculpture is unknown and there are those who claim that it is a political statement towards the City Hall, standing opposite this house.
Founded in 1976 The Ludwig Museum features about 350 modern works of art donated by Peter and Irene Ludwig. This is the first museum in Cologne to exhibit modern art. Besides pop art the museum also has an extensive collection of Russian Avantgarde paintings and many art works by Picasso.
The tallest structure in Cologne is Colonius. This TV tower was built in the early 1980s along the green belt, encircling the inner city. It was built in 1981 by the Bavarian construction company Dyckerhoff & Widmann. At the time it was built the Colonius was Germany’s sixth tallest communications tower rising over 253 meters high. The height later increased to 266 meters with the addition of a tall radio antenna at the top of the spire. Up until 1999 the observation deck was open to the public along with a revolving restaurant. One could see views over Cologne and as far as Bonn and Dusseldorf.
House of Fragrances 4711 was redesigned in 2001 and the interior architectural structure of the gallery was turned into an all-in-one exhibition, modern convention and presentation room. There are state-of-the-art multimedia appliances and the room is perfect for workshops, seminars, conventions and meetings of up to 60 people. You can arrange for a guided tour of the museum. 4711 is a traditional German eau de cologne, the creation of Maurer and Wirtz,
A new and attractive district of Cologne is the reconstructed Rheinauhafen waterfront complex. It is close to the city center, located on the right bank of the Rhine. It has become one of the city’s popular attractions. Here you can find a mixture of modern residential and office buildings with many cafes, restaurants and galleries.
The centerpiece of this area is the new Cologne promenade with the trio of buildings known as the “Kranhauser” or Crane Towers. The buildings rise to a height of around 60 meters and have the shape of hoisting cranes.
Here you’ll also find a recently opened four-star hotel with a trapezoid-shape – art’otel. This is an eye-catching building with colorful windows and has picturesque collages created by Korean artists SEO, a former advanced student in Georg Baselitz’s master classes.
The Great St. Martin Church has a distinctive crossing tower and trefoil choir. It has been a part of the Old Town since the Middle Ages. The site upon which the church sits was located on an island in the Rhine in Roman times and had several warehouses. The church was built on top of the warehouses and incorporated their remains. It was badly damaged during WW II and archaeological excavations were made beneath the choir. Today the smooth transition from the foundations of a Roman warehouse to the walls of the church can be plainly seen. The upper parts of the church were reconstructed and are a typical example of Rhenish architecture.
Across from the church stand the folklore figures of Tunnes and Schal.
Medieval legend has it that the name patron of St. Gereon was a Roman officer, who died along with 318 legionnaires for his faith. In ancient times on the martyr’s grave a church with an oval base was built. The church has a giant central area, built in phases the church rose to an enormous height. It has a decagonal-shaped nave topped by a dome. The interior of the church is lit by the decagonal 21 meter wide arched roof and there are colored windows created by Georg Meistermann.
Take a stroll through Cologne’s oldest and most traditional public park the Botanical Garden, located in Riehl, a northern district of the city close to the left bank of the Rhine. The garden covers 11.5 hectares and was established in the 19th century. There are over 10,000 species of plants and you can walk between exotic plants in the tropical green houses and the Palm House that makes you feel like you’re in a rain forest.
The heart of this garden complex is The Flora a historic building which offers a place from conferences, concerts, social gatherings like weddings and gala celebrations.
The Museum of Applied Arts has been situated in the former house of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum since 1998. The exhibition includes furnishings, ceramics, glass, jewelry and textiles from the late Middle Ages and designer objects of the 20th century. In the inner courtyard you’ll find the statue of an angel holding a painter’s palette in its hands. The statue is over seven meters high and part of a fountain. It was created in honor of Stefan Lochner, the master artist of the Cologne school of medieval painting, dedicated in 1953 on the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death.
A perfect place to spend a summer day and barbeque is the Volksgarten. A lot is always going on here beside bongo drummers, Frisbee players and soccer players. There is a children’s playground, pedalo hire and beer gardens and restaurants. You can see the remains of the Lunette and the former Fort Paul once belonging to a Prussian fortress.
For total relaxation and various activities in a natural setting there is The Stadtwald Forest. It was planted on the land of the former Kitschburg manor in 1895. The forest has three artificial ponds. The forest stretches to the south-east along Decksteiner Weiher pond to the borough of Sulz at which point it adjoins Beethovenpark. Here visitors and families can participate in many activities like jogging, pony riding, a hands-on children’s zoo and an animal park. The green laws invite picnickers.
More than two centuries old Melaten Cemetery is an oasis of complete peace and quiet. It has a park-like design and people enjoy coming here for quiet, contemplative strolls. The cemetery has around 55,000 graves among them the graves of prominent Cologne citizens like the members of the Millowitsch theater dynasty, Willi Ostermann, Dirk Back and the Farina family, creators of Eau de Cologne. You can se many impressive monuments and objects of traditional and contemporary art. There are Classicist, neo-Gothic and neo-Baroque grave monuments, symbols and sculptures. Melatin is also a landscape conservation area with many plant species and more than 40 species of birds and insects as well as bats and squirrels.
The statue honoring actor Willy Millowitsch stands on Willy-Millowitsch Square.
In the Old Town on Ostermannplatz you can find the Ostermann Fountain which was completed in 1939. The figures depicted on this fountain are in reference to the songs by Cologne lyricist and singer Willi Ostermann.
The equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm II sits on the western side of the Hohenzollernbrucke Bridge.