Cologne – Germany’s Audacious Delight
Ideally located on the banks of Rhine River, Cologne is Germany's 4th largest city after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. The city is home to more than 10 million inhabitants, making it one of the major European metropolitan areas. Located less than 8 km from Belgium, Cologne was founded in 38 BC, but came to limelight only during 1st century AD, by the Roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. In the past the city has served as capital of Germania Inferior of the Roman province, leading members of the Hanseatic League and during the medieval and Renaissance times it was the largest cities north of the Alps. During the Second World War, it was the most heavily-bombed cities in Germany and more than 34,711 long tons of bombs were dropped by RAF, thus destroying most of the city's historic buildings. A major cultural center for Rhineland, the city boasts of housing more than 30 museums and galleries. German is the official language spoken by majority of people, but English is also spoken and understood.
If you are planning a visit to the city then take a flight to Cologne/Bonn Airpor. This is the major international airport in the city and is located at a distance of approximately 15 km. The city has temperate–oceanic climate and is one of the warmest cities in Germany. The city has only 1,427 hours of sunshine in the year, making it one of the gloomiest cities in the country. January is the coldest month of the year with temperatures averaging 2.6 °C. In the month of July, the average temperature looms around 18.8 °C, making it the warmest month of the year. The best item to holiday in Cologne is during the months of September and October when the climate is at its best. The month of May is also good as most of the beer gardens start to open. Carrying an umbrella is advisable and it can rain at any time. Cologne carnival held in November is the largest festival in the city and one of the largest street festivals in Europe. Cologne Comedy Festival, Ash Wednesday, Ringfest and C/o pop festival are the major festivals celebrated in the city.
Explore the 12 great Romanesque churches which the city is world famous for. Cologne Cathedral is the landmark attraction. The charming representation of Gothic style of architecture, it is among the largest churches in Europe. Cologne's Old Town is brimming with many churches and museums which allow tourists to understand the rich culture and history of the city, Wallraf-Richartz and Ludwig Museums are the best places to visit if you are a fan of painting and art. Roman-Germanic Museum displays rich archaeological heritage from the Paleolithic period to the early middle Ages. St. Gereon's Church is noted for its long choir as well as its numerous medieval murals, mosaics and ancient relics. If you are adventurous, then do not miss Cologne Cable Car that takes tourists 243 meters above the ground and the view of the city from the cable car is worthwhile.
Old Town Hall (oldest such public building in Germany), St. Pantaleon Church (housing tomb of the Empress Theophano), Altenberg Cathedral (finest examples of Early Gothic architecture), Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces (World Heritage site and home to several museums), Museum of Applied Art (fine collection of more than 100,000 pieces of applied and decorative art dating back to mediaeval times) and Cologne Zoological Gardens (among Germany's oldest zoological gardens) are the prime attractions one should not miss in Cologne.
Eating and Shopping
Rheinland influenced German cuisine is the most cherished cuisine in the city. However, the growing cosmopolitan culture in the city has given rise to variety of restaurant specializing in international cuisines from all over the world. The city is filled with the traditional style Kölsch restaurant and brewery taps. Typical Rheinland dishes that one should savor here are - Halver Hah, Himmel und Äd mit Flönz, Soorbrode , Dicke Bunne mit Speck, Schweinshaxe, Rievekoochen and Rübenkraut. The Italian restaurants in Cologne are rated higher than those in UK. The local beer, Kölsch, also should be sampled in the city. In a city, which is filled with bars, pubs and nightclubs, bar hopping is an enjoyable activity. Altstadt around Dom, Zülpicher Straße and Belgian quarter are the place where most of the chic and funky bars and lounges are located.
When shopping in Cologne, go beyond the malls and super stores and explore the local markets which are unique and have a nonpareil charm. While Neumarkt-Passage, Kölner Ladenstadt, WDR Arcade, Rhein Centre in Cologne-Weiden and Cologne Arcades are the most popular malls, Cologne's Schildergasse, Hohe Straße, Breite Straße, Ehrenstraße and Belgian Quarter are the most visited shopping street in Cologne. Major shopping buys in Cologne include local beer, shoes, watches, clothes, paintings, local craft, handmade souvenirs, travelling gear and the original Cologne fragrance, that the city is super famous for.
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