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Cologne cathedral at dusk

Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany.

Cologne, Germany, with its one million inhabitants, is the largest city in northern Rhineland. It is situated in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, in a wonderful landscape of castles, villages and hills, covered with forest and vineyards. The city stands on the banks of the river Rhine and some of the best views of the city can be had directly from the river.

Cologne is an elegant city, which functions as a show piece for numerous industrial sectors including the perfume industry, which still today makes the famous 'Cologne Water', originally produced in 1709. Thanks to its excellent air, land and water links, the city was already considered the nerve point for transport to the west at the time of the Roman Empire. This is further confirmed by the presence today of 10 European motorways which converge on Cologne's ring-road system. The city's railway station is considered the most important hub in Europe. From the two main airports Cologne/Bonn and Düsseldorf it is possible to reach over 200 destinations around the world. Cologne is also considered the media capital of Germany. In no other place in the Federal German Republic, are there such a large number of activities, directly linked to the world of telecommunication.

From an artistic point of view, Cologne offers its visitors a wide choice of attractions. The main monument is the Dom, the geographic and spiritual heart of the city and probably the most famous religious building in Germany. It required 632 years before the construction of this magnificent church, the largest cathedral in Germany, was completed. The foundations were laid in 1248, but following initial rapid progress, work slowed, due to a lack of funds and stopped completely in 1560. It was only thanks to the romantic enthusiasm for the Medieval period expressed by the Prussian Court, that in the 1800s, work restarted and the cathedral was finally able to be inaugurated in 1880. The interior of the cathedral houses some important works, including the Gerone Cross and the King's Shrine, which is said to contain the remains of the Three Wise Men. The gold, jewel-studded sarcophagus was taken from Milan in 1164, as part of the war bounty for the Chancellor of Federico Barbarossa. Other notable features of the cathedral's interior include: the choir stalls and the alter piece featuring the adoration of the Three Wise Men, which dates back to the 15th century. The 509 steps of the west tower of the Dom, Europe's tallest building before the construction of the Eiffel Tower, provides the breathless visitor with spectacular views over the city. From here it is possible to observe Peter's Dome, weighing 24 tons and housing the largest bell in the world. Apart from the Dom, the splendour which Cologne acquired during the Medieval period is apparent in its magnificent churches including: Gross St. Martin with its four towers, St. Maria im Kapitol and St. Gereon with its magnificent decagon dome and four floors dating back to the 13th century. The city also bears evidence of its ancient past, when it was a Roman settlement. In the Cathedral Square it is possible to see the archway in the north part of the wall, while a short distance away in Roncalliplatz 4, on the walls of the Römisch-Germanisches Museum, together with two Roman wells, there are the remains of a Roman gate, which leads to the banks of the Rhine. The Medieval Town Hall (Rathaus) is noteworthy for its Gothic tower and Renaissance lodge. Here it is also possible to visit the ruins of the ancient Palace of Pretoria.

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  • Cologne is also the sight of important museums. The Romano-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanisches Museum), situated next to the cathedral in Roncalliplatz, houses a large collection of artefacts taken from along the Rhine, including the Funeral Monument of Lucius Publicius (30-40 A.C.), the Dionysos Mosaic (III century A.C.) and a great number of objects relating to the daily life of the Romans, who inhabited this area.
  • The Wallraf Richartz Museum and the Ludwig Museum, located in a wonderful modern building, house one of the most important picture galleries in Germany and includes works from Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Friedrich, Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir, together with various masters who worked in Cologne during the period between the 14th and 16th century. The Ludwig Museum houses a collection of contemporary art featuring works from Liechtenstein, Rauschenberg and Warhol. The museum complex is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on week-days (Tuesday until 8 p.m.) and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the week-ends. Visitors should also take a river cruise along the Rhine, to admire some of the more unusual angles of the city and its surrounding area. The Köln-Düsseldorfer Rheinschiffahrtsgesellschaft operates the service with four departures daily.
  • The town of Brühl, located 15 km south of Cologne, is the site of the Schloss Augustusburg, one of the most important residential palaces along the Rhine. Built on the orders of Clemens Augustus, Prince Elector and Archbishop of Cologne, the building was completed in 1745. A road connects the palace to Falkenlust, a French-style building, used by the Elector as a hunting lodge.
  • Phantasialand is another of the attractions at Brühl. It was one of the first theme-parks, in Disneyland style, to be built in Europe. The park is open from April 1 until October 31 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 9 p.m. in summer).

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Getting to CologneEdit

Exploring CologneEdit

As the majority of Cologne's sights are grouped together in the city centre, it is easy to visit them on foot. Several city centre streets, for example Hohe Strasse, Schildergasse and Breite Strasse, are designated pedestrian areas. For travel outside the city, it is possible to use the efficient public transport system. Buses and trams (U-Bahn) are operated by Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe (KVB) and services are shared with the city of Bonn. Metro services (S-Bahn) are operated by Deutsche Bahn (DB).

Practical information and resourcesEdit

Currency: Euro (EUR) since 2002, Deutsche Mark (DM) prior to 2002.

Electricity: 220 Volts, 50 Hertz

Television: PAL system

Climate: Cologne has a pleasant climate with warm summers, mild winters and an average rainfall of 760 mm. The average temperature ranges from 1 °C in winter to 20 °C in summer.

Language: German Local dialect: Kölsch

Opening hours: Shops are open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Large supermarkets and shops generally stay open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Banks usually are open between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Generally, opening hours may vary depending on the location (close to the centre or outside) and due to new laws.

Phone calls: area code for Cologne (0)221, international code for calling from Cologne 00

Taxi fare in Cologne.


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Kranz Kölsch

Kranz (Wreath) of Kölsch

The city being the centre of attention, has, over the long centuries of its history, developed a particularly sociable atmosphere, evident in the fact that Cologne boasts more than 3,000 bars, restaurants and beer-houses. The highest number per-capita in all of Germany. The typical beer of Cologne, the Kölsch, must be tried.

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