Cologne > About Cologne

Cologne, with a little over 1 million inhabitants is the fourth largest German city. Its name is a French adaptation of the Roman: Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. It is located along the Rhine River and overflows with culture, both medieval and modern. Due to its location, Cologne was historically a major trading center and the city continues to be the center of exchange, whether through media, trade fairs, or high-spirited carnival laughs over a tall, thin glass of Kölsch. And after having explored Cologne, travelers may also take advantage of the city’s ideal location to visit Belgium, the Netherlands or France within a few hours train ride with very affordable prices (https://www.thalys.com/de/en/). 

Historical Foundations

The city landmark is the Cologne Cathedral is a gothic masterpiece that took over six centuries to plan and build (1248 – 1880). It houses the bones of the (three) wise men and a 11,500 squared, 72 colored stained glass window from the artist Gerhard Richter, to name a few. It is a testament to an exceptional work of human creative genius and is thus counted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cologne’s Roman-Germanic Museum posseses Dionysos mosaic from a Roman villa and the world’s largest collection of Roman glass. Roman remains are found scattered throughout the city – whether it be in the form of a stone road, a tower, twelve large Roman churches, or the foundations of a Roman governor’s former residence (Praetorium).

An un-roman(ticized) past may also be found in the NS-Dokumentationszentrum, a museum in Cologne formed out of the headquarters of the local Gestapo (security police) during Germany’s most notorious period of history, the time of National Socialism (1933-1945). Although about 72 percent of the city was destroyed during World War II bombings, a part of the Old Town was painstakingly restored and whose cobble-stoned roads take pedestrians down (a distant) memory lane.

For those further interested in history and art, a visit to one of the 40 museums is worthwhile. Among them, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum contains works from the Middle Ages, the Museum Ludwig has the largest Pop-Art collection outside the USA, the Museum for Angewandte Kunst places objects together in close proximity to created art, and the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum and the Museum Schnütgen house large ethnological collections. Kolumba - an archbishopric museum built by the architect Peter Zumthor, and the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln (East Asian Art) also leave visitors with a lasting impression.

A Creative Hotspot

Though steeped in history, the city pulsates with modern culture alongside the developments of design, music, art, fashion, festivals and food (#CulinaryCologne; #urbanCGN). The Cologne Philharmonic Concert Hall, an underground concert hall based on an amphitheater ensures good views and the best acoustics. Music can also be heard in the LANXESS arena, a host for a variety of big concerts (with up to 20,000 seats), as well as the Cologne Opera Company, jazz in pubs, or in venues of playing electronic music (c/o pop-Festival). 

The Koelnmesse, or Exhibition and Trade Centre in Cologne, is an international trade fair with around 80 trade fairs and over 2,000 conferences held annually. It is considered of the country’s largest trade fair organizers. Or, in springtime you will find the award winning international literature festival (lit.COLOGNE) hosting up to 175 events with a separate children’s program on political and journalistic issues specially conceived with written programs on literary topics.

Last, but not least, Cologne’s bright young minds are cultivated in the University of Cologne with around 48,000 students, the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne as the largest university of applied sciences in Germany, or at the German Sport University Cologne, Europe’s largest specialized sports university and the only one in the nation. 

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