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Cologne also known as Colonia Agrippina is the largest city by population in the North-Rhine - Westphalia region. The region has nine districts and 85 quarters, known as Veedels locally. It is prominently known for the numerous tourist attractions such as museums and galleries and the famous universities of the place. The Cologne Bonn Airport is the largest of the region which lies south-east of the city. Previously a capital city of the Roman province, Germania Inferior, it was established in the 1st century AD in the Ubii region. The place gets its name from its French version which has become common in the English language too since then.
The city was once located between the major trade routes between eastern and western Europe and flourished greatly from this. It was once the headquarters of Roman military of Germania Inferior until its occupancy by the Franks in 462 AD. It was also a prominent and largest place to the north of the Alps until the region. Continuously occupied by the British and French, Cologne was one of the cities in Germany which were heavily affected by World War II. A number of bombings have occurred here by the Royal Air Force, an approximate 35,268 tonnes of bombs. As much as 95 per cent of the population has been erased after the devasting effect primarily due to evacuations and destruction. It was later restored and ensured a mixed city.
Home to nearly a thousand museums, the region speaks greatly of the cultural aspects of Cologne and its history. The city also houses several Catholic churches, displaying their beautiful architecture along with the conflict from ages among the communities of the place. City halls, medieval city gates, bridges, high rise structures, etc. are the added attractions here. It also hosts one of Europe’s largest carnival which begins on 11 November at 11 minutes past 11 A.M. It continues until Ash Wednesday with the fun beginning from the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, also known as the Women’s carnival. The Ludwig museum here houses a huge collection of modern art, including a Picasso collection matched only by those in Barcelona and Paris.
Best time to visit the city
The hospitality of the state is great with welcoming people around the region. Irrespective of the season, the place is beautiful to choose for travel around the year. The summer months from July to August are pleasant and welcoming. The issue of humidity persists during this time which might be irritating for a few. Autumn months from September to November and Spring months from April to June are the perfect choices to go on a trip to the region. Spring season is the perfect one to avail both cheaper prices and best experiences. During the November season, the beautiful carnival of this place.
Near the banks of the river Rhine, Kolner Dom or the Cologne cathedral is situated. This place is a UNESCO world heritage site and is popular for its Gothic architecture. Also known as the cathedral of St. Peter and St. Mary, the area has beautiful and stunning panoramic views from the south tower reaching the bells of the cathedral. On Sundays, ear protection is provided to the visitors. Guides, especially those speaking English are in high numbers here.
Image by Aleksandr Zykov from flickr
The Wallraf-Richartz and Ludwig Museum:
The much newer structures consist of beautiful artworks, especially those from the European artists. Popular artists here are Rembrandt, Manet, Renoir, Leibl, Liebermann, and Slevogt. The Ludwig museum focuses more on modern and contemporary painting styles. Kolumba is another famous location known for its art and antiquities. This is located in Archidiocese in Cologne.
Image by dronepicr from flickr
Cologne chocolate museum
Established in 1972 from the remains of a chocolate factory by Hans Imhoff, this place offers a view of the entire process of manufacturing. From bean to the final product, collections of molds, antique chocolate boxes, wrappers, etc. are displayed here. Free samples are given from the chocolate fountain and a personalized chocolate bar can be designed by viewers. This can be taken with the visitor. The region also offers a guided tour inside.
Augustusburg and Falken lust palaces
In a place 15 kilometers far from the city of Cologne, this structure stands tall and beautiful. Amply decorated, it is known for its seemingly beautiful staircase, large park, open air theaters and festivals. Other dedicated museums are also present in this region which contain exhibits belonging to a certain person. A theme park, Phantasia land caters to kids needs and is the largest in Europe. It is located near the palaces and can be reached easily.
Image by FaceMePLS from flickr
St. Gereon’s Basilica
The place has a very Romanesque vibe to it and is built on a 7th century church site. This unusual church of Cologne dates back to the Roman times with the features of that era clearly visible. The place has a long choir, medieval murals, mosaics and many ancient relics. The place is a soothing and relieving one for history and art enthusiasts. It offers a number of details to ponder upon.
Image by Eoghan OLionnain from flickr
The Roman-Germanic museum
Near to the Cologne cathedral, the museum offers a view of the exhibits and archaeological deposits from the Paleolithic period until the medieval ages. It has displays of the Dionysus Mosaic, Roman glass, domestic pottery, sculptures, etc.
A 2 hour journey by road, this is pretty unusual for the places in Germany. Away from the old school type villages of Germany, Frankfurt is modern with a number of gaping skyscrapers. The city retains its past too through the reconstructed Romerberg. A number of local dishes can be tasted here especially the cider known here as apple wine. Though a busy and bustling area, the region has a lot to look forward to.
A 2 hour drive from Cologne, Marburg is the old and medieval town that offers a perfect view of the Germany of the past. With its cobbled streets and timbered houses the hill town has exquisite views and too many steps and steep areas on the road. The ancient castle and the Franconian watch tower are the major attractions here. The local restaurants known as Gasthaus with their share of traditional German meals are a must visit destinations.
One hour away from Cologne, this city has a history of being established by the Romans in 9 BC. Located at the point where Rhine meets Moselle, the point has a giant German national flag along with 16 state flags. The history of this beautiful city can be known from the Alte Burg castle or the Festung Ehrenbreitstein fortress in the area. Significant and impressive, these places offer a treat to the eye and add to knowledge of the city.
Closest to Cologne, Bonn is a 30 minute drive away from the hustle of city life. A small German region, it is popularly known as the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven. The area was also a former capital of the Federal Republic of West Germany which now features a serene and calm environment. The cafes and beer gardens in Christmas Markets are a must visit in this area.
Two hours away from Cologne, the place has always been a muse to the elites of the Roman empire in the past. Present day cultural elites too find this region highly attractive with its own share of historical elegance. The Casino and the English garden style kurpark offer a serene walk into the region. The red brick church, city palace and the beautiful streets are every reason to visit this charming place.
Image by NatalieTracy from flickr
A 40 minute road trip from Cologne Bonn, this is popularly known as the Dragon’s rock locally. It is a modernized castle located on the Drachenfels. With an altitude of 321 meters above sea level, Schloss Drachenburg offers an enchanting view of the Rhine. The insides of this castle have ornate structures which speak highly of what the ancestors of the 1800s thought a castle should be like. A historical funicular which also happens to be Germany’s oldest railway track takes passengers directly to the castle apart from the road route. This is a 1.5 hours journey.