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Cologne - More than the Cathedral

Photo by Unsplash

Nestled on the banks of the mighty Rhine River in western Germany, this 2,000-year-old city is a captivating blend of history, hedonism, and hoppy brews.

Photo by Sid Saxena/Unsplash

The Kölner Dom, or Cologne Cathedral, is the city's most iconic landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the world's largest and most impressive Gothic cathedrals, its twin spires soaring over 150 meters above the cityscape. You can admire the intricate stained glass windows, the golden Shrine of the Three Kings, and the medieval treasures in the treasury. If you are feeling adventurous, you can climb the 533 steps to the top of the south tower and enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the Rhine.

Photo by Wikimedia

The Romans founded Cologne in the first century AD, and it was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. You can learn more about this ancient heritage at the Roman-Germanic Museum, which displays a rich collection of artefacts from the Roman era, such as mosaics, sculptures, jewellery, and pottery. The museum's highlight is the Dionysus mosaic, a stunning floor mosaic from a Roman villa depicting scenes from Greek mythology.

Photo by Köln Tourismus

If you are a fan of modern art, you will love the Museum Ludwig, which houses one of the largest collections of 20th—and 21st-century art in Europe. You can see works by Picasso, Warhol, Dalí, Kandinsky, Matisse, and many more. The museum also features a section dedicated to pop art, a photography gallery, and a cinema museum.

Photo by The Chocolate Museum

Who doesn't like chocolate? At the Chocolate Museum, you can discover the history and culture of chocolate, from its origins in the Aztec and Maya civilizations to its production and consumption today. You can watch how chocolate is made, taste samples of different varieties, and even create your own chocolate bar. The museum is located on a boat-shaped building on the Rhine and has a glass-walled chocolate fountain that will make your mouth water.

Experience the Cologne Carnival

Photo by Oliver Franke/Tourismus NRW

Cologne is famous for its carnival, a festive season that starts on November 11th and culminates in a week of celebrations before Ash Wednesday. During this time, the city is transformed into a colourful and lively spectacle, with parades, costumes, music and parties. The carnival is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages and reflects the spirit and humour of the Cologne people. You can join the fun and mingle with the locals, who will greet you with the cheerful motto "Kölle Alaaf!"

Drink Kölsch in a brewery

Photo by Wikimedia

Kölsch is the local beer of Cologne, a light and refreshing ale served in small glasses called Stangen. You can find Kölsch in almost any pub or restaurant in the city, but the best place to enjoy it is in a brewery or Brauhaus, where it is brewed on-site and served by the Köbes, the traditional servers who wear blue aprons and carry trays of beer. Früh, Gaffel, Peters and Reissdorf are some of the most popular breweries. You can also try the typical Cologne dishes, such as Himmel un Ääd (mashed potatoes with apple sauce and blood sausage) or Halve Hahn (rye bread with cheese and mustard).

Photo by Wikimedia

The Kolumba Museum is a unique museum that combines art, history and architecture harmoniously. It is located on the site of a former Gothic church that was destroyed in World War II and incorporated the ruins into a modern building designed by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. The museum displays a collection of religious art from the Middle Ages to the present day and temporary exhibitions. The museum is a peaceful and contemplative space that invites you to reflect on the past and the present.

Learn about the Nazi era at the NS Documentation Centre

Photo by Cologne Tourist Board

Cologne's history is not only glorious but also tragic. The city suffered greatly under the Nazi regime and was heavily bombed during the war. You can learn more about this dark period at the NS Documentation Centre in the former Gestapo headquarters. The centre documents the persecution and resistance of the Cologne people, as well as the crimes and atrocities committed by the Nazis. You can see the original prison cells, where thousands of prisoners were tortured and killed, and read their graffiti and messages on the walls.

Discover the street art scene

Photo by Pixabay

Cologne is a city of street art. Graffiti, murals, stickers, and stencils can be found all over the city, especially in the districts of Ehrenfeld, Belgisches Viertel, and Innenstadt. Some of the most famous street artists in Cologne are Captain Borderline, Tuk, Bona Berlin, and El Bocho. You can also join a guided tour or a workshop to learn more about the street art scene and its techniques.

Relax at the Rheinpark

Photo by Celina Sy/Unsplash

After a busy day of sightseeing, you might want to relax. The Rheinpark is a large green park along the Rhine, perfect for a stroll, bike, picnic, or play. You can also take a cable car ride across the river and admire the views of the city and the cathedral. The park also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Cologne Lights, a spectacular fireworks show in July.



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