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Visitors to Cologne will find a modern media city with historic roots. Cologne is the oldest of Germany’s large cities and the impressive outline of its cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece and the most visited building in Germany, towers over all the city’s other buildings. The cathedral, which was started to build in 1248, was one of the most ambitious building projects of the Middle Ages and is still one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. The city began life as a Roman colony, hence the name Colonia, which later became Cologne, or Köln in German. Today Cologne is a metropolis in all senses of the word, both in terms of its size and the attractions it has to offer. It is a centre for the arts with many galleries and innumerable large international trade fairs. The city’s skyline is dominated by the cathedral and twelve Romanic churches, as well as by five large radio and television buildings. Many printing firms and newspaper companies are based in Cologne, which is one of Europe’s most important media cities. Visitors will find that the majority of the sights, restaurants and nightclubs in Cologne are located in the city centre, in the Old Town or Altstadt, alongside the ring road around the city and in the Severin district to the south. Cologne’s location at the Rhine makes it the perfect starting place for romantic trips down the river. Amongst the more modern architectural sights, the Neo-Gothic building on Glockenstrasse is one of the most popular ones for visitors. This is where the city’s most famous product, Eau de Cologne 4711, was originally manufactured.
Visiting the beautiful cathedral is a must and if you love art then a trip to the Ludwig museum is not to be missed. Of course, you should not miss the Chocolate museum or tasting different types of beer in one of several hundred pubs around town. Alongside the river, stroll around and stop off at one of the riverside restaurants - or take a seat on the sun-filled terraces and watch the word go by.
Boasting a history that dates back to over 2000 years ago, this ancient cathedral city is a cultural hub rich in traditions. Historical sites can be found everywhere throughout the city, but it´s inside the numerous museums that the real gems are kept for art lovers and tourists to enjoy. The city features ten municipal museums ranging from art galleries, such as the Ludwig, to historical ones, like the Römisch-Germanisches Museum, treating the travellers with a good number of private galleries and ecclesiastic museums as well.
For those not native to the area, it’s important to realise that a “Halver Hahn” is not a dialect term for half a chicken, but a rye bread roll filled with Gouda cheese. The regional beef dish “Rheinischer Sauerbraten” is a delicacy, which generally contains raisins and is served with delicious gravy and potato dumplings. Beer drinkers can look forward to trying Kölsch, a local beer brewed by many breweries in and around Cologne.
The best way to spend a free evening is in a Biergarten (“beer garden”), where beer is served in a pleasant, open-air setting away from the street. If you’re looking for more intense and exciting nightlife with bars and clubs, head for the areas outside the ring road, the Old Town and the Severin district in the south of the city.
Shopping in Cologne can be done easily within walking distance. We suggest starting at the Hauptbahnhof (main station), going past the cathedral and walking on southwards down Hohe Strasse as far as Cäcilienstrasse. This will give you a good overview of most of what the city has to offer. This long pedestrian area has shops selling clothes, technology, souvenirs, cosmetics, books and music. You will find brands such as Mango and Zara, but also the Kaufhof department store. Breite Strasse is a side street off Hohe Strasse and has an interesting mix of shops. The new DuMont Carré and Opernpassage – or WDR arcade – has more exclusive labels and products. The most popular street in Cologne is probably the Schildergasse that runs south from the opera house to the Neumarkt and has some of the greatest shops in the city. Not far away and just around the corner eastwards to the Hohe Strasse, the Ehrenstrasse starts off. A place especially for people who are looking for something fancy and hip or an exclusive fashion brand. A new shopping area has grown up in the last years which runs westwards to Rudolfstrasse, with the Bazaar de Cologne shopping mall. The Belgisches Viertel – the Belgian district around Brüsseler Platz is well-known for new, young fashion. Here you will find trendy clothes, jewellery and designer labels.
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