Cologne 2018-10-24T11:41:11+00:00

COLOGNE – LIFE AT THE BIG RIVER

THE CATHEDRAL IS THE CENTER

THE FINE ARTS HAVE ITS PLACE

TO LIVE AND LET LIVE

THE BKB TRAVEL GUIDE “3 DAYS IN COLOGNE“

You will find detailed information for preparing and enjoying your trip to Cologne in our guidebook “3 Days in Cologne”. Compact, easy to use and informative! A programme for three days, a city plan, special tips and addresses. We show you the highlights, the pleasant districts, take a break with you, and tell stories … just as much as you need for three days! “3 Days in Cologne” is available as a paperback from your bookstore or from the BKB shop, where you can also buy it as an ebook!

The travel guide “3 Days in Cologne” is available in german or english language in the BKB Shop or in your bookstore!

The travel guide “3 Days in ” is available in german or english language in the BKB Shop or in your bookstore!

The texts and images on our website are to help you get your bearings and plan your trip to Cologne. All the information has been carefully checked by the 3-Days-in editorial team and they are continually updated. Nevertheless, it is possible that some details are incomplete or out of date. We are therefore grateful for every correction or addition to our information. Please send your hints to: info@3-tage-in.de

TIPS FROM THE VISIT-THE-CITY EDITORS FOR YOUR 3-DAY-TRIP TO COLOGNE

Cologne and the cathedral are always worth a visit. Because the metropolis on the Rhine has numerous highlights such as the unique wreath of twelve Romanesque churches, monuments from more than 2,000 years of history, the old town with its winding streets and a high-profile museums of all kind. Events such as the carnival, the lit.COLOGNE, the comedy festival, the gamescom or the Christmas markets attract visitors from all over the world. And last but not least, the city is beloved because of the special mentality and joie de vivre of its people.

COLOGNE DAY 1

Cologne is at its best on the waterfront and so you should begin the city tour with a walk from the cathedral through the old town to the river. Your way leads you along narrow gabled houses, through winding lanes to quaint places. And everywhere, street cafés, pubs and brewhouses invite you to enjoy Cologne’s way of life.

FIRST THE CATHEDRAL …

As if they were magnets, the two spires draw visitors to the cathedral, which rises like a dark giant between the rail tracks, busy roads and the overcrowded pedestrian zone. No other German city has an emblem like this. Planned to be the biggest cathedral in Europe, it is imposing for its huge dimensions alone: it covers an area of 8,000 square metres altogether, with a length  of 144 metres and a width of 80 metres. The huge, colourful surfaces of window glass, a combined total of 10,000 square metres, are equally impressive.

632 years betrug die Bauzeit, bis der Dom am 15. Oktober 1880 vollendet war.

…THEN THE BONES OF THE SACRED THREE KINGS

It all began with an act of theft: after the conquest of Milan, in 1164 the bones of the Three Magi were brought to Cologne as spoils of war, making the city one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Christian world. But it tooks more than six centuries to complete Cologne Cathedral.  In order to house the relics, the goldsmith Nicolas of Verdun made the precious shrine of the Three Magi, dating from 1190–1220. It now stands behind the altar in the choir and is the main attraction inside the cathedral. Shaped like a basilica church, this is the largest reliquary shrine in the West. Its iconographic programme ranges from the Creation to the Last Judgement. The figures are fashioned from gilded copper, the front end of pure gold, complemented by filigree work in precious and semiprecious stones, including ancient gems and cameos.

THE HEINZELMÄNNCHEN FOUNTAIN

Right next to Brauhaus Früh the best-loved fountain in the city shows how wonderful life might have been in Cologne. Stone reliefs tell the story of the busy elves who quietly, secretly came in the night to do all the unfinished work. They would have carried on their jobs if it had not been for an inquisitive tailor’s wife, who wanted to uncover the secret. She scattered peas on the steps of her house. The elves slipped on them, fell down the steps and were discovered. Angry at this treatment, they left for ever, leaving the thankless citizens to do the work for themselves.

WALKING AROUND THE OLD TOWN

If you visit the Old Town with the  shops, atmospheric eating places and traditional Brauhaus pubs are situated in little gabled houses, narrow alleys and picturesque squares you will understand why the song says: „Hey Kölle, du bes e Jeföhl“.  Alter Markt, the centre of the Old Town, is one of the pleasantest places in Cologne when the sun shines, and pubs, cafes and restaurants set up their tables and chairs outdoors. The former appearance of this marketplace can be seen by looking at the historic Gaffelhaus at Alter Markt no. 20/22. This Renaissance double building, the houses Zur Brezel and Zum Dorn, with their typical gables and fine windows, s one of the few imposing buildings that remain here.

THE CHURCH ST. MARTIN

The Romanesque church St Martin the Great (1150–1240) that, along with the cathedral, dominates the Rhine panorama thanks to its central tower and richly decorated choir with the ground-plan of a clover leaf.  This basilica is both the emblem and the name-giving church of the St Martin’s quarter.  Inside, the imposing architecture and plain furnishing come as a surprise. Don’t fail to descend into the crypt, a journey back to Roman times. 2,000 years ago the site was an island, divided from the town by a channel of the Rhine, used first as a sports ground and later for building warehouses. Pass along is the the Fishmarket, with a colourful row of narrow houses crowned by gables, is one of the most attractive spots in the Old Town.

THE OLD CITY HALL

2,000 years of city history are concentrated around the Rathaus (city hall). The oldest testimonies to this are the Praetorium, seat of the Roman governor, and the remains of the medieval Jewish quarter. The imposing tower of the city hall and its magnificent Renaissance loggia (1569–73) bear witness to the wealth and pride of the burghers in past times. As early as 1130 they had a “house of the citizens”, which is thought to be the oldest city hall in Germany. The tower was built by the guilds of craftsman between 1407 and 1414 to demonstrate their rule of the city.

THE FARINA HOUSE

On the opposite corner of the city hall square stands the house where the story of eau de Cologne began. In his small perfumery opposite a little square, Gülichplatz, in 1709 the Italian Johann Maria Farina invented a fragrance that reminded him of an Italian spring morning after rain, with the scents of orange, lemon, grapefruit, bergamot and citron, the blossoms and herbs of his homeland. The perfume quickly became a sought-after product in the world of the rich and beautiful, who preferred using perfume to washing, a common practice in the Rococo era. To find out more about eau de Cologne and three centuries of perfume and social history, visit the perfume museum

THE GÜRZENICH

A little further on stands a major Gothic secular building. Constructed by the citizens of Cologne in the 15th century on land belonging to the patrician Gürzenich family, it served as a venue for celebrations and a storehouse. Today the Gürzenich is the city’s best-known place for congresses and events. To reach the great hall on the first floor, once the scene of receptions for emperors and glittering festivities, visitors pass through the spacious foyer and curving staircase in the extension built in the 1950s.

COLOGNE AT NIGHT

In Cologne there is so much to do in the evening that it is hard to choose. From theatre and concerts to a multicultural festival or a DJ night, in the Old Town or the Belgian Quarter, there are many options for entertainment!

COLOGNE DAY 2

 In a city that once had as many churches as it has days a year, including a unique collection of twelve Romanesque churches, at least one church visit is a must for every visitor. If afterwords you will not call it a day, pay a visit to the unusual Museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne, which is confronting modern art with old sacral art. And finally, shopping is on the program, whether in the city center or in one of the hip quarters.

THE 12 ROMANESQUE CHURCHES

Our Tip: Visit the “chamber of horrors” in the church dedicated to Cologne’s patron saint Ursula. Countless bones, artistically arranged to depict symbols and inscriptions, and over 100 reliquaries in gilded niches adorn the walls of the 17th-century Golden Chamber, generally known as the Schreckenskammer (chamber of horrors). On the galleries above the aisles were displayed bones that were thought to be holy relics from the martyrdom of St Ursula and her followers, discovered in the Middle Ages on the site of a Roman cemetery.As a huge number of bones were found, in popular belief the number of holy virgins was inflated from 11 to 11,000, attracting many pilgrims to the city.

ST. GEREON

The remarkable interior of a third Romanesque church, dedicated to St Gereon, is a good reason to add this one, too, to the list of visits. According to a medieval legend, Gereon was a Roman military officer who died for his Christian faith along with 318 legionary soldiers. When you enter the tensided building with its massive dome, slender pillars draw the gaze upwards. The glowing red of  the dome with golden flames that refer to the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the modern windows by Georg Meistermann combine with the medieval building in a striking colour scheme. The breath-taking spatial impression derives from a unique symbiosis of late Roman and medieval architecture. The core of the church is an oval structure dating from the 4th century. In the early 13th century it was converted to a decagon spanned by a huge dome, the largest that was built between the construction of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in the 6th century and the dome of Florence cathedral in the 15th century.

THE MUSEUM KOLUMBA

The value of preserving memories and an example of responsible treatment of historic heritage is shown by the art museum of the archdiocese. Inside the Kolumba is a lively museum with a “permanently moving inventory”. Selected works from a remarkable collection that ranges from the early Christian period to contemporary art are presented according to changing themes, and visitors are invited to open up to unaccustomed sensory impressions. The museum team has long experience at creating contrasts between medieval saints’ figures, madonnas and monstrances with works by August Macke, Andy Warhol or Joseph Beuys.

IN THE AFTERNOON: SHOPPING

In the pedestrian zone along two main streets, Schildergasse and Hohe Strasse, which connect Neumarkt with the central station, fashion outlets and department stores as well as branches of international chains present their wares for window shopping. For exquisite and unusual items, or simply to do some window shopping, Mittelstrasse and Pfeilstrasse to the west of Neumarkt are an excellent destination. go on to Ehrenstrasse. Here stores for coveted labels have appeared between shops specialising in hip and in-your-face fashion. If you prefer art and antiques, then nearby St.- Apern-Strasse around the Kreishausgalerie is the place to browse in galleries and antique shops. To leave the mainstream, go to the Belgisches Viertel (Belgian Quarter) around St Michael’s Church. Young fashion and jewellery designers have set up shop in attractive old buildings.

 Und an 365 Tagen im Jahr kann man im Einkaufsbahnhof Köln in über 60 Geschäfte shoppen und schlemmen.

COLOGNE DAY 3

Zu Brücken, Bötchen und ein Museum mit Schokolade führt der Spaziergang in Kölns jüngstes Viertel, den neu gestalteten und umstrukturierten Rheinauhafen. Von Kölns schönster Treppe aus können Sie dann auf der „Schäl Sick“ den Blick auf das Altstadtpanorama genießen, bevor der Besuch in einem der beiden bekannten Kunsttempel ansteht.

THE OLD HARBOUR

Cross a hydraulic swingbridge next to the so-called Malakoff Tower, part of the Prussian city defences, to see the newest highlight of modern urban planning in Cologne, the Rheinauhafen harbour area. Built over 100 years ago for the trade in grain and wood, it has now become an attractive district for living, working and culture, with a fascinating juxtaposition of late 19th-century and modern architecture. On all sides you see the combination of historic materials such as stone paving, train rails and restored harbour cranes with huge slabs of concrete, steel and glass, set off by high-class lighting design. Despite the renewal of its appearance, the Rheinauhafen has not lost its original harbour character.

SWEET TEMPTATION

The eyecatching building beyond the swing-bridge, a glass palace that looks like the bows of a ship, was skilfully and harmoniously blended with the old customs offices. In 1993 Hans Imhoff, owner of the Stollwerck chocolate factory, made his dream of a chocolate museum come true. On three levels, visitors can learn all about cocoa and chocolate, as well as about the history of the company. If you don’t have a weakness for the sweet world of chocolate, walk a few steps further to the Deutsches Sport- und Olympiamuseum, housed in a protected monument, the old customs warehouse no. 10. On some 2,000 square metres of exhibition and event space it illuminates many different aspects of national, international and Olympic sports history, from ancient times to the present.

THE NEW DOCK AREA

Between the harbour basin and Rhine, the three tall “crane buildings” by Hadi Teherani are among the architectural highlights. The striking shape of these glass high-rises is a reminder of the cargo cranes of the old port. They are now a significant feature on the city skyline. Now they house luxury apartments. Beyond them lies the modern Kap am Südkai, a ten-storey structure with a roof garden at the south end of the harbour development. A major monument of the city is the Bayenturm, a fortified medieval tower – now seat of a feminist research foundation, the Frauen- MediaTurm – that was stormed in 1262 by the people of Cologne, protesting against the rule of the archbishop. A popular saying has always maintained that whoever holds the tower holds power in the city. The next eye-catcher is the neo-Romanesque red-brick harbour office with its square clock tower, today the headquarters of the Cologne harbour and freight company, HGK.

A BEAUTIFUL VIEW: RHEINBOULEVARD

Walk across the Deutzer Brücke to the other side of the Rhine, where the new Rhine boulevard including a flight of steps 500 metres long in front of the Hyatt Hotel is a good spot to linger a while. For a long time the district of Deutz, which originated in a Roman fort, was overshadowed by the city quarters on the left bank of the Rhine. In the meantime Deutz has becom a trendy quarter. From here you have a superb panoramic view of the Old Town and the cathedral. It is one of the best places in Cologne to watch the sun go down. Thanks to the events at the Tanzbrunnen and in the LANXESS arena, Deutz buzzes with life, and both the Rhine promenade and Rhineside park are popular with walkers, joggers and tourists.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: VISIT THE FINE ARTS

Whether you would like to see the most important currents and viewpoints in modern art or follow the development of painting in Cologne between 1300 and 1550 – in this art city on the Rhine, both are possible. Von Werken der klassischen Moderne über die Picasso- oder Pop-Art–Sammlung bis hin zur Gegenwartskunst und Fotografie, das Museum Ludwig ist ein Kunsttempel der Moderne. Visitors are guided through various eras of art history on three floors and can see paintings made over seven centuries  from medieval beginnings until the early 20th century geben dagegen im Wallraff-Richartz-Museum Einblicke in verschiedene Epochen und Kunstlandschaften. Tips for many other museum you can find in our guide „3 days in Cologne“.

TO GO TO COLOGNE BY RAIL OR PLANE

You can fly to Cologne with many airlines. The Airport Köln-Bonn  is located in the east of Cologne, the distance to the city is about 17 km. To go to the city by S-Bahn is a 15 minutes ride (2,80 €). You also can take bus (30 minutes) or a taxi (about 30 €).

Cologne is very well connected to the German railway system and the main station is located right in the middle of the city. If you come from Frankfurt International Airport by train it only is a 55 minutes ride.

If you travel by car you will find Cologne as a very center of the German-Autobahn-System  (A 1, A 3, A 4, A 57, A 59, A 555, A 559). But because of the traffic it takes it’s time to enter the city.

A clever way to travel not only for young people ist the long-distance coach (Fernreisebus): www.flixbus.de

Picture credits: all photos BKB Verlag GmbH except: „Köln – Leben mit dem Strom“: fotolia.de Kranhäuser und Dom; Deutschland Datei: #182438069 | Urheber: majonit; Groß St. Martin: Kölnmesse GmbH; „Köln am Abend“: c:o pop; „Köln am 2. Tag“: Jannis Kounellis, Tragedia civile (Bürgerliche Tragödie), 1975, Rauminstallation, Kolumba, Köln Foto: Lothar Schnepf © Kolumba, Köln; oading cargo: fotolia.de/Maria, Foto-ID #95648980.