One of Germany’s best cities to visit, I didn’t make it Cologne until my second trip to the country. I started my travels here at the city’s famous landmark; the Dom Cathedral. As Germany’s largest cathedral, I found it so big that it was difficult to get a good angle of the entire building while also avoiding the scaffolding that covered it. The photo above was the best I was able to do at the time. To my surprise, the Dom Cathedral is actually the most visited landmark in all of Germany!
This medieval cathedral started construction in 1248 and took well over 200 years to finish before it was finally completed in 1473. The inside and outside make up one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever been to. The photo above shows the main prayer area inside the Dom Cathedral.
Not all parts of the cathedral were open to visitors. This beautiful hallway above was blocked off by a large metal gate. Even though I wasn’t able to explore this area, I was at least able to stick my camera through the bars and get a photo. You can see all the amazing architecture from the designs in the ceiling to the details in the marble floor.
Aside from its history the Dom cathedral is an unexpected hangout spot for people, especially teens. The cathedral was a good reference point for me when I was walking around the city so I came often. Each time I saw large groups of kids hanging out on the cathedral steps. It seemed like an odd choice for teenagers to hangout, but as you can see the steps are crowded with them.
Immediately across the street from the cathedral is this elegant hotel. I’m not sure if the cathedral owns the hotel in some way, but their Christian crosses in the windows were what caught my eye.
Another prominent church in Cologne is the Great St. Martin. This church is built in what’s considered to be Cologne’s Old Town and has been here for over 1,000 years. The giant tower you see was actually completed in 1250CE!
While the Dom cathedral is the most visited landmark in Germany, the country is also known for its sweets. While Germany, Switzerland and Belgium dominate the world chocolate market, Cologne is specifically where it is created in the country. Even when I first arrived to Cologne in the train station, I was greeted by some locals who were handing out free samples.
As a matter of fact, Cologne even has its own Cocoa Museum. I didn’t visit it, and now regret it! The price was pretty steep and I was with a local who had been many times so we decided to see other places in the city. I did at least though peer in through some of the glass windows and you can see they have actual cocoa trees here. If I’m not mistaken, there is even a chocolate waterfall or fountain somewhere to be found.
I was at least smart enough to visit their gift shop, where you can buy all the chocolate you want. Above you can sees some of the chocolate truffles that were available in the gift shop. The shop was pretty large and there were all kinds of other items for sale aside from the truffles. I ended up spending a lot here since this place makes the perfect opportunity to get gifts for people back home.
Surprisingly one of my favorite places to visit was the market in Cologne. Usually I save markets for third world countries or something culturally unique like a Christmas market in the holiday season. The market of Cologne was pretty huge, and had just about everything you can think of.
Vintage items like these old radios and collectibles below seemed to be popular. I found it hard to believe these items would be in high demand but regardless I saw a lot of stands selling things like this as well as old stamps, coins, and other similar items.
This nursery was also nearby the market. I definitely don’t think of Germany when I imagine gardens, but I suppose if Queen Elizabeth can have beautiful ones that far north than Germany can too.
One of my favorite parts of the market was the artwork. They had lots of digital photos, some that were HDR, and plenty of actual paintings. I’ve always like the concept of a modern city being over taken by nature, so this photo of what Cologne might look like was an instant favorite for me! It’s clearly not Germany’s natural climate, so maybe the concept is global warming changed Germany into a rainforest.
I generally like to walk as much as I can when traveling but used local transportation when I had to. Like most countries in Western Europe, Germany uses the honor system for tickets. There are no entrances to the station that require you to enter your ticket or people to actually check them. The assumption is you’ve purchased your fare and the right amount. The photo above shows one of the underground subway stations that I used. Below is an above ground train.
I love walking around cities because you’ll never know what you’ll stumble across. The medieval gatehouse above is known as the Severinstorburg, and was founded in the 12th century. The gatehouse now acts as a mini-castle and is a popular place to reserve for special events such as weddings.
I passed by this abandoned church a few times while walking around Cologne. It was destroyed during World War II on March 2nd 1945. Instead of being demolished or rebuilt like most buildings in Germany were, it was left to stand as a memorial. The church is fenced off so you can’t actually enter it. From the outside gates you can view a statue and some passages written in German. They describe the church and how it is a memorial to prisoners of war, and those who died. The statue is of mourning parents.
Near the cathedral was this free concert going on. Everything was in German so I’ve know idea what it was about, but I got the feeling it was for some kind of awareness or supporting some cause. In the photo above, the guy was giving a speech in between songs. He started off calm but by the end was shouting and trying to energize the crowd. From what I gathered he failed.
German is famous for so many foods such as bratwurst, schnitzel, spatzel, etc. With so much immigration from Turkey, you can find Turkish doner restaurants everywhere you go. It’s become so popular that it almost seems that doner is almost a German dish nowadays!
I always find it interesting how other countries have much more strict laws with certain things than the United States, and totally relaxed in other ways. These bee covered pastries for example, would never sell back home. Even if a single bee was crawling on them they’d almost definitely have to throw it out. Here it seems pretty normal and no one at the bakery seemed to concerned!
Along the Rhine river near the city center you’ll find traditional German architecture. These colorful townhouse like buildings were my favorite in Germany.
Just behind the traditional buildings is the crowded city center. Cars can’t drive down most of the streets here. The shops were mostly modern ones that you’d find in any large western city.
Also in the downtown areas are plenty of shortcuts through the alleyways. I liked walking through these much better than the main streets. It’s one of the few places in Cologne that you feel you’re in an old German city rather than a modern place.
While walking through one of Cologne’s neighborhoods I came across these guys playing a local game. I’m not sure completely sure but I believe it to be Klootschieten. After looking it up, Klootschieten is a popular game in the Netherlands and West Germany. It involves throwing a heavy bar as far as you can. I’m not sure if these guys were playing in teams or if everyone was independent. There is also another similar local game called Bosseln, but I wasn’t able to understand the difference between then two.
Above is the photo of Cologne’s Media Park, or I should say half of Media Park. I wish I took a better photo, because Media Park is a large modern neighborhood that was just created in 2000. It was designed to house companies and media businesses, and over 250 are based here. I don’t really have any photos because I just kind of crossed the bridge into the neighborhood and continued on my way. There’s a large lake in front of Media Park filled with lots of birds, like this swan below.
Actually these condos are part of Media Park. They were located on the backside of the neighborhood next to a grassy city park. As you can tell, they’re definitely modern in design and I imagine they must be incredibly expensive to live in! I’d love to be able to see the inside of one just out of curiosity.
The shame of World War II is few medieval structures have been left standing. I’ve always been interested in medieval Germany but its much more difficult to get a feel for their history here versus France or the United Kingdom. This photo above was actually taken in my hotel!