The last couple of months have taken me to several places around Europe and I’ve had the chance to do some serious travelling and sightseeing, as well as learn about cultures I’ve never really got to know before. In previous articles, I’ve shared some of my experiences in Italy and France, but now I’d like to discuss my final adventure of the summer, traveling to Cologne in Germany. Known for its beautiful and iconic Cathedral and rich array of historical architecture, this city has some real fantastic stories to tell, and though I only stayed for a weekend, the city certainly had a chance to work its magic on me.
The city is divided into several sections, known as quarters, and is known in particular for the Belgian Quarter, a small area that delights with its lively collection of galleries, bars and boutiques. Above this, is the Eigelstein Quarter, more known for its historic sites, such as the very grand-looking old city gate, or Eigelsteintorburg or St Ursula’s remains, which along with a collection of other holy relics are kept within a golden chamber. Somewhat confusingly, the area known as the centre, is not in fact the central part of the city. Nor does it feature the majority of the tourist attractions, but it is in fact the medieval part of the city, with some interesting historic sights of its own, including Gothic churches and World War II torture chambers. The real central part of Cologne is known as the Altstadt, or ‘Old Town’. This area features Cologne’s most famous landmark, Cologne Cathedral, as well as the train station, old town hall, and a variety of other popular attractions.
Within the Altstadt, as you approach the river, you can see a series of bridges, and amongst these is the Lovelock bridge. Technically known as the Hohenzollernbrücke Bridge, it has taken over the tradition of the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris, where lovers will leave a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the river together as a sign of their everlasting love. Recently there has been some controversy as the Paris bridge has had its locks removed due to concerns over the weight of all the locks, damaging the structure. Perhaps another bridge across Europe such as this one will take its place after Paris’ council have now banned the leaving of locks.
Cologne Cathedral, which can be found as the symbol on pretty much any souvenir bought in the city, and has quite an iconic look. It’s two spires in gothic style make it look quite different from most cathedrals, giving it a unique shape, and since buildings have gradually grown up around it, you only really notice it when you’re standing in the square just outside, which makes one feel very small against it’s colossal height. Stepping inside you once again get a feeling of grandiosity at the sheer height of the ceiling, and start to feel a little lost in the massive open space that surrounds you. The steps just outside the cathedral are certainly a nice place to stop and have lunch, taking in the incredible feat of engineering that towers over you.
The city certainly has lots to offer, and is surprisingly big considering it’s not a capital city, but it’s easy to get around with their extensive system of tramlines and underground trains. Because of this it’s still possible to get a lot of the activities done there in a long weekend and is a great place to have a holiday without taking up too much time and money.
Image from: http://www.zastavki.com/pictures/2560x1600/2011/Cities_The_Cologne_cathedral_028761_.jpg