Cologne cathedral next to a bridge across the Rhine
Colorful Houses with Pointed Roofs in Cologne
Locks Chained to a Bridge in the Shape of a Heart
A Modern Factory on a Riverbank
Beer in Two Glasses with Wheat and Hops Next to It

Cologne Travel Guide

April - DecemberGermanyEUR
European History
Churches & Monasteries

As you travel through Western Germany, Cologne is a cheerful, easy city to stop for a night or two. Like most German cities, Cologne took a hit during WWII, losing some of its old-world neighborhoods. However, thanks to the endurance of the Cologne Cathedral and iconic Hohenzollern Bridge, the city has kept its identity close to hand. Sometimes quite literally in the form of a glass of sparkling Kölsch local beer. 

Close to the border of France and spanning the Rhine River, Cologne's rise to prominence as a free city in the Holy Empire and Hanseatic League during the middle ages was pulled out from under its feet when Napoleon invaded in the 1800s. During the Third Reich, the Ehrenfeld Group, an anti-Nazi resistance movement, rebelled against the Nazis in Cologne in the Autumn of 1944. Cologne is a city that has undoubtedly seen the shifting tides of history.    

Whether you are in Cologne for just an hour or several days, the cathedral should be your first stop. A sensational, Gothic behemoth of a building, the cathedral has a way of humbling all who enter its grand doors. The most visited landmark in Germany and a UNESCO Heritage Site, Cologne Cathedral will get you right in the heart, less a sight to see and more a place to feel. Just outside the cathedral, the Hohenzollern Bridge spans the Rhine, with three iron truss arches looping over the river like the bounces of a skimming stone. Although the 20th-century bridge and 13th-century cathedral should theoretically clash, when you see them together, the effect is surprisingly harmonious. Cologne is an artfully mismatched city architecture-wise, with medieval and renaissance buildings brushing shoulders with modern glass and steel towers. 

This kind of 'anything goes' aesthetic is reflected in the upbeat attitude of Cologne residents, who have a reputation among Germans as being forward-looking and easy-going. The atmosphere of Cologne is relaxed and breezy, except during the 'crazy days', the city's annual answer to Mardi Gras, when the streets bubble and fizz with festive energy comparable to that of the beloved Kölsch beer. During the Cologne Carnival, Cologne locals take to the streets in full masquerade, whooping and singing carnival songs. If you observe this folkish, centuries-old tradition, you'll realize that beneath Cologne's relaxed demeanor lies a time-tested, pagan rhythm to life.

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Must See Attractions in Cologne
The Front Face of Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral
UNESCO World Heritage
An Old Typewriter
National Socialism Documentation Center
Museums & Galleries
Clowns Marching in a Carnival Parade
Cologne's Carnival
Nightlife & Local Scene
Metal Arcs of a Modern Bridge in Cologne
Hohenzollern Bridge
People and Children in Hats Making Chocolate
Chocolate Museum
Museums & Galleries
Optional Day Trips from Cologne
A black and white portrait of Beethoven
Music & Theater
A Town with a Cathedral Tower
UNESCO World Heritage
A Rusted Industrial Mine in Essen
UNESCO World Heritage
The White and Yellow Face of Augustusburg Palace
Castles & Chateaux

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