- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Travel to Cologne, Germany
This extremely old cathedral city on the river Rhine is one of the most important commercial and cultural centers in western Germany.
Cologne, founded by the Romans, is one of Germany's oldest cities. The soaring Cathedral of Cologne is the centerpiece of the city and its rich architectural history. Cologne is well-known for its contemporary art scene, excellent museums, and the largest carnival celebrations in Germany.
Tourist Attractions in Cologne
Near the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne's towering landmark, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Mary, is a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture. One of the largest cathedrals in Europe, it was started in 1248 and is considered the most ambitious building project of the Middle Ages. As impressive as its 157-meter tall twin towers is the cathedral's incredible interior.
A variety of excellent guided tours are available, as well as events, including concerts and services.
Cologne's Old Town
As you explore Cologne's numerous historic churches and museums, you'll crisscross the city's lovely Old Town quarters with its many unique charms. In addition to old churches such as Great St. Martin, you'll find yourself traversing countless quaint alleys lined with traditional old houses, many now home to boutique shops, galleries, cafés, and restaurants. And with its many pleasant paths along the Rhine, you'll find ample opportunity to enjoy great views as you plan your route through this ancient city. You'll also find yourself in awe of the countless monuments and fountains that adorn the area, along with its Archeological Zone with its many ancient ruins and artifacts.
The Wallraf-Richartz and Ludwig Museums
Art lovers will want to visit both the Wallraf-Richartz Museum and the Ludwig Museum when in Cologne. Housed in one of the city's newer architectural structures, these two excellent galleries cover a wide range of European painting, with works by Rembrandt, Manet, Renoir, Leibl, Liebermann, and Slevogt. The Wallraf-Richartz Museum is particularly strong in the work of the Cologne school, while the Ludwig focuses on modern and contemporary painting. In the same building is the Agfa-Foto-Historama with its displays of photographs and cameras dating back to 1840.
The Roman-Germanic Museum
Just a few minutes' walk from Cologne Cathedral, the Roman-Germanic Museum offers a fascinating insight into the city's rich archaeological heritage from the Paleolithic period to the early Middle Ages. Exhibits of interest are the Dionysus Mosaic dating from the 2nd century and the 15-meter-high funerary monument of Poblicius from the 1st century, both discovered during excavations in the city. The museum also displays other mosaics, Roman glass, domestic pottery and sculpture, and Roman and Germanic jewelry. Also of interest is Kolumba, the art museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne, notable for its art and antiquities.
St. Gereon's Church
Romanesque St. Gereon's is perhaps Cologne's most unusual church. Built on the site of a former 7th-century church, which was itself constructed on a ten-sided domed structure dating from Roman times (and still visible) beginning in 1151. Dedicated to Saint Gereon, this visually appealing structure includes highlights such as its unusually long choir as well as its numerous medieval murals, mosaics, and ancient relics.
The Cologne Cable Car
Since its establishment in 1957 as the first European cable car to cross a river - in this case, the Rhine - the Cologne cable car has carried a whopping 15 million passengers. The views are, of course, the big draw, particularly those of the Old Town and Cologne Cathedral. Easily accessible by public transport, one of the best ways to tackle this fun attraction is to consider it a one way trip, walking back to your starting point on the east or west bank of the Rhine. For more great views, a visit to Cologne Telecommunications Tower is worthwhile. Located northwest of Cologne's Old Town, Colonius, as it's known locally, is 243 meters high with a superb viewing platform and a revolving restaurant.
Old Town Hall
Cologne's Old Town Hall, the Kölner Rathaus, is the oldest such public building in Germany. With a rich history dating back more than 900 years as the focal point of the ruling classes during medieval times, the building you see today reflects a number of different architectural influences, including the 14th-century main building, the 15th-century tower, and a Renaissance-style loggia and cloister. Even the 20th-century influences are pleasing, as seen in the atrium. Other highlights include the Hansasaal, or Hanseatic Hall, with its Gothic figures of eight prophets, the nine "good heroes" (pagan, Jewish, and Christian), and its sonorous carillon that plays three times each day.
Just six kilometers away from its famous cousin in Cologne, Altenberg Cathedral, also known as the Bergischer Dom, is one of the finest examples of Early Gothic architecture in the Rhineland. Built in 1259, its richly furnished interior is well worth a visit. Other highlights include its Gothic stained glass and its many tombs of princes and abbots. Although not strictly speaking a formal cathedral - no bishop has ever sat here - it earned the title thanks to its imposing dimensions and is unique in Europe in that both Protestant and Catholic congregations share it.
Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces
In the picturesque town of Brühl, 15 kilometers south of Cologne, Schloss Augustusburg is the 18th-century palace of the Archbishop of Cologne. Sumptuously decorated and furnished, this charming Late Baroque/Rococo palace is famous for its magnificent staircase hall. Other highlights include its large park, used for open-air concerts and festivals. Sharing the same park is Falkenlust Palace, built in 1740 and an important part of this World Heritage site.
The Museum of Applied Art
Southwest of Cologne Cathedral is the Museum of Applied Art. One of the city's "newer" museums - it was founded in 1888 - it's well regarded for its fine collection of more than 100,000 pieces of applied and decorative art from the medieval period onwards. Other important collections include jewelry, furniture, porcelain, arms and armor, as well as a number of interesting architectural exhibits.