Cologne Travel Guide
Cologne, Köln in German, is one of the oldest and most adored cities in Germany. It is famous for its pubs, festivals, chocolate, cologne – Eau de Cologne was actually created here, back in 1709 – and its glorious cathedral, the Kölner Dom, which was 600 years in the making and remains today one of the largest and loveliest Gothic cathedrals in the world, and, too, among the most visited sights in Germany. Cologne's chocolate pedigree can be discovered at its chocolate museum, the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum, among the most visited chocolate museums in the world, which diligently chronicles the evolution and flirtations of the cocoa bean and offers a sample or two of the sweet confection as well; while the city's pub culture is manifested in its varied and large number of drinking establishments – there are, in fact, more pubs per capita here than in any other city in Germany. Cologne is also home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, Universität zu Köln, and hosts the largest street festival in the land, the Karneval, which begins promptly at 11:11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month and is nowhere celebrated with greater vim and vigor or in greater numbers than in Cologne.
Cologne is situated on the river Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, some 15 miles (25 km) north of Bonn, or 95 miles (152 km) northwest of Frankfurt.
Among Cologne's major attractions, in addition to the Cologne Cathedral and the Schokolade Museum, are 12 surviving Romanesque churches, led by the 13th-century St. Gereon Church which boasts a monumental decagon cupola, and the 12th-century Groß St. Martin Church which is the second-largest church in Cologne, after the Cologne Cathedral. As for museums, there are some 30-plus first-rate museums in the city, the most rewarding of them all the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, which is also the oldest museum in Cologne and houses an outstanding collection of art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, together with the largest Pop Art collection in the world. Additionally, Cologne has more than a hundred galleries, scores of good restaurants and cafés, and the busiest shopping street in all of Germany, known as Schildergasse and visited by more than 13,280 shoppers per hour!
Cologne has more pubs per capita than any other city in Germany, and over 70 clubs and party joints. Its night scene, however, is centered principally on Zülpicher Straße, Luxemburger Straße, Engelbertstraße, Barbarossaplatz and Aachener Straße, where a majority of the city's most popular pubs, bars and clubs are located. Among specific establishments, the top draws are the disco-bar Alter Wartesaal, brew pubs Päffgen and Früh am Dom – the latter located right by the main railway station – and Gebäude 9, a popular club with live music.
Cologne's most famous sons are artist Max Ernst and literary genius and Nobel laureate Heinrich Böll, author of The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum and The Clown. Its most famous beer is Kölsch, served at bars and restaurants throughout the city; and its most famous fragrance, Eau de Cologne, which was created here in 1709 by expatriate Italian perfume maker Giovanni Maria Farina, at what is now the Farina Fragrance Museum, and which quickly became synonymous with perfume and fragrance.
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