Cologne is Germany's fourth largest city and dates back to Roman times. It lies on the river Rhine in the German Federal state of Northern Westfalia and has about 1 million inhabitants. It has always had a big importance to commerce, due to is vicinity to the neighbour countries Holland, Belgium and France. Paris. Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, and many other European Hotspots are within a four-hour reach.
Â The street layout of the city is of three rings. The old city lies within the first ring (Ring) and on the river Rhine. The â€œRingâ€ has got 5 big squares (from north to south: Ebertplatz, Rudolfplatz, ZÃ¼lpicher Platz, Chlodwigs Platz, Severins Platz) with remnants of old city gates, dating back to the middle ages and streets that lead along and to the old tradeways (â€œNeusser Strasseâ€œ, â€œVenloer Strasseâ€œ, â€œAachener Strasseâ€œ, â€œZÃ¼lpicher Strasseâ€œ, â€œLuxemburger Strasseâ€œ, â€œBonner Strasseâ€œ).
Â Past the ring streets that were constructed more recently up to the 19th century (â€œInnere Kanalstrasseâ€œ, â€œÃ„uÃŸere Kanalstrasseâ€œ, â€œMilitÃ¤rringstrasseâ€œ) to extend the city, big parks and green stretches can be found.
Â The most famous attraction of Cologne is itsâ€™ Cathedral which is home to the relics of the Three Wise Men. This impressive monument located next to the Railway Station, started in Romanic times, rebuilt in the Gothic Era and finished in the 19th century, draws millions of tourists year-round. There is 12 significant Romanic churches that were being built between 900AD and the Middle Ages. The Cathedral is one of them and some others are â€œSt. Severinâ€œ, â€œSt. Pantaleonâ€œ, â€œSt. Gereonâ€œ, â€œGroÃŸ St. Martinâ€œ. There are many more churches, museums and cultural highlights. There are enough cultural attractions enough spend weeks in Cologne and always explore something new.
The pubs around the old cobblestoned-roads in the old town near the river Rhine serve the famous beer â€œKÃ¶lschâ€œ , a homebrew light beer that falls under German purity law, and is the center of the yearly festival Karneval, that brings the whole city to a halt. People dress up in costumes, there is parades all over the city, balls and parties for a whole week.
Carnival has been celebrated in Cologne forever, but it was being made official after the French Revolutionary troops left Cologne in 1814 and the Prussians took over. In 1823, Cologne celebrated the first Rose Monday ("Rosenmontag") which is still the most important day of the festivities.
The date of Rose Monday is determined by the Church calendar. It takes place on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent leading up to Good Friday and Easter. Traditionally, the fifth season is declared open at 11 minutes past eleven on the eleventh of November! Street carnival, also called "the crazy days", takes places between Thursday (Womenâ€™s Carnival Day) before Rose Monday and ends on Ash Wednesday.
Â Cologne is full of history, old tales and stories. The era of Napoleon and the French left has left its mark on the city, and especially on the local dialect. â€œKÃ¶lschâ€œ ,noticeably also named like the local beer , is the thick dialect that is being spoken in and around Cologne. Every day is a good day for a festivity, whenever there is a chance you can spend some time with a beer in the pub, chanting some of the old songs. Do not mistake Colonian hospitality with the behavior of the waiters in the traditional pubs though, their rudeness is part of their job and must be taken with a smile.
Things you should avoid doing in Cologne is criticizing their beer, the prettiness of the city which had to be completely rebuilt after the war and therefore cannot compete with other picturesque and pretty towns, and the football club 1, FC KÃ¶ln. Always on the verge of losing, but it is still the pride of the whole city. Colonians however have a great sense of humor, so they can even see these things with half a grin on their lips.
Cologne is definitely not a place to miss out on your travels!