Köln Dom, Domkloster
The most famous landmark of Cologne is its gothic Cathedral with its twin spires. The magnificent structure of the Cathedral forms the spiritual and geographical center of the city and it affords panoramic views of the city from the top of its south tower. Work on the Cathedral began in 1248 in order to hold the relics of the three Magi brought to the city in1164 by Archbishop Reinald von Dassel. The Cathedral withstood the Allied bombings though the area around it was decimated by the air raids of the RAF and the US air force. The interiors of the Cathedral are stunning and provide a visual delight. The altar is made of bronze and marble and can be seen from all parts of the Cathedral.
The chancel behind the altar contains the relics of the three wise men and forms the spiritual nerve center of the Cathedral. The edifice is further adorned with an intricately carved bass relief depicting scenes from the Old Testament. The chancel is encircled by nine chapels which contain more religious arte facts. The Chapel of the Cross has the oldest full size cross in the Western world while the Our Lady’s Chapel has the famous Altar of the city Patrons which was painted by Stephan Lochner. The work features the ‘Adoration of the Magi’ and the patron saint of Cologne St Ursula. English language tours are available at the Cathedral which has an admission charge of 4 euros for adults and 2 euros for children.
Ludwig Museum, Bischfsgartenstrasse
Cologne is an important epicenter of the world of art and this museum is a wonderful exposition of modern contemporary art. It contains one of the largest collections of the works of Pablo Picasso outside of Paris. The museum named after the German art patron Peter Ludwig also includes works by masters such as Dali , Andy Warhol and American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
Musuem für Angewandte Kunst
This museum has an exposition of German arts and crafts from the Middle Age up to the 20th century.
This amusement park which is a favorite with children is open from 1st of April to 30th October and features many rides and attractions such as the old Berlin steam round about, a wild water course and a space center.
Die Kölner Synagoge, Roonstraße
The reconstructed synagogue occupies an important place in the history of Cologne as it was visited by the German born Pope Benedict XVI in August 2005.
This museum contains the Roman treasure Dionysos-Mosaik which dates back to the 3rd Century AD and was discovered in 1941. It was originally a part of a Roman Villa. The museum has an exhibit of additional Roman antiques on the second floor.
Cologne’s Romanesque Churches
These churches which had been destroyed due to allied bombing have now been restored and they are worth visiting. Some of these churches are St. Kunibert (with its wonderful stained glass windows), St. Severin, St. Maria Lyskirchen, St. Andreas, St. Aposteln, St. Gereon, St. Ursula( devoted to the Patron saint of Cologne), St. Pantaleon, St. Maria Capitol, Groß-St. Martin, St. Georg and St. Cäcilien
Colognes Parks and the Rhine Cruises
Going on a cruise on the River Rhine is a major attraction in Cologne. These cruises are conducted from early spring to early autumn and are composed of sight seeing tours, round trips, day trips and cruises lasting many days. A cruise aboard a paddle steamer called “Goethe” is also available, this cruises through the middle Rhine valley while the Rhine Jet which travels at a speed of 70km/hr skims the water and provides an additional thrill. Romantic evening cruises are also available and are popular at the festive season at the end of the year.
Cologne is a verdant city with several green belts and parks which are located in the center of the city. Some of these parks are Stadtgarden, Volksgarten and the Innere Grüngürtel. There also is an outer green belt which runs from the south to the west of the city and is the site of recreational activities, lakes and ponds. There is also a densely wooded forest called Königsforest in the east of the city.
Apart from its museums and historic sights this lively and vibrant city has much more to offer. The Karneval is one such festivity held in early February. Karneval is the city’s equivalent to Mardi gras and features street parties, parades and pranks. The city comes alive with mirth and much merriment at this time.
Cologne’s tourism site states that the city has two hundred and fifty hotels to suit every pocket book. The grandest hotel in Cologne is the Excelsior Hotel Ernst. It was built in 1863 and contains original works of art by Van Dyck. Rates and availability are available online at www.excelsiorhotelernst.de. Dom Hotel is a popular hotel located in the vicinity of the Cathedral .It has been consistently awarded the five stars rating by the government. This hotel has a website which can be accessed at www.cologne.lemeridien.com. Another interesting and charming hotel furnished with antiques is the Antik- Hotel Bristol. This hotel is also located in close proximity to the Cathedral.