Cologne is a city full of pleasant surprises, some easy to imagine, others totally unexpected.
From a German city it is for example pretty obvious to expect at least a good beer, but what you find in Cologne is actually more a cult. The Kölsch beer is in fact brewed according to the same recipe for 500 years, it is gravity-poured and has a very precise etiquette to respect. From the type of tray used to serve it, to the communication code between waiter and customer, every detail of the Kölsch beer’s world is incredibly fascinating (HERE our dedicated article, complete with tips).
Another world that must be explored is the one of the Eau de Cologne, which consigned the city to history. In an era that was certainly not renowned for personal hygiene, in Cologne happened a sort of olfactory revolution that changed the social habits of an entire continent. In Cologne Mr Giovanni Maria Farina, an Italian perfumer, created a secret scent that became a must for queens and warriors, poets and bishops. In our dedicated article you can discover the wonderful workshops organized at the Farina Museum and at the House 4711.
Cologne is also extremely famous for the Carnival, for its rituals, the characters and the marvelous parades. For three days, the pubs are allowed to not respect the closing times and let the feast keep going.
Those who love culture will be spoilt for choice. In the heart of the city, the wonderful gothic cathedral that dominates the skyline houses the relics of the Three Wise Men. Since 1880 its two high towers stand out on everything around. Struck 14 times during the bombings of the Second World War, it was included in the Unesco Heritage sites in 1996.
Walking from the cathedral square to the river, you pass through the museum district of Cologne, where there are also the museum of ancient art (Romano-Germanic Museum) with its splendid roman mosaics, and the museum of modern art (Ludwig Museum) where you can admire some amazing artworks by Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde, Otto Dix, Andy Warhol, Picasso and many other world-famous artists. Before reaching the banks of the Rhine, you walk next to the Concert Hall, the temple of music: during the concerts, the area is cordoned in order to prevent the steps of the passersby from disturbing the acoustics of the concert hall located underneath the gardens.
From here it is easy to reach the railway bridge famous for the love padlocks: it’s the Hohenzollernbrücke Bridge and has two pedestrian lanes where lovers from all over the world come to promise eternal love by locking a padlock and throwing the key into the river. The padlocks are now over 40,000 and their weight will perhaps represent a problem for the stability of the bridge in the future, but for now it is worth taking a walk and having a look.
Furthermore, once on the other side of the river, you could also enjoy a breathtaking view on the cathedral and, if you fancy a panoramic experience, visit the KölnTriangle skyscraper. Its top floor terrace is open to the public every day until 20:00 (winter) or 23:00 (summer) and allows the visitors to admire the sunset over the old city.
The old city overlooking the Rhine is a spell of colors and architecture, with the small restaurants along the river, the gardens where people gather on sunny afternoons and the historic pubs with pulleys on the windows, once used to lift the goods to the upper floors.
Walking south along the left riverbank, you reach the Chocolate Museum: 5000 years of history in 4000 square meters, through which you discover all the secrets of this treat, from the cultivation of cocoa beans to their industrial processing.
If you are a sweet-tooth, no better place to end a weekend in Cologne.
We strongly advise you to take a guided tour: at THIS link you will find all the options available. We chose the one about "Local characters, anecdotes and specialities" and it was incredibly interesting. Enjoy!
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