Our visit to Cologne was a planned day trip from Brussels the Belgian capital. Cologne is one of the oldest and the fourth largest city in Germany around 80 km from Belgium. Cologne is well connected with Brussels, the capital city of Belgium by frequent trains with a travel time of around two hours.
The most popular attraction of Cologne is the World Heritage Site Cologne Cathedral, which attracts an average of 20,000 people every day. Even though the magnificent cathedral suffered fourteen hits during the World War II bombings it nevertheless stood tall amidst the destructed city. Even to this day, the striking pairs of colossal towers soars high above the city skyline. The cathedral area measures 8000 square meters and has the capacity to hold more than 20,000 people.
Once we were in cologne station we inquired for the directions to cathedral and person in tourist office ushered us towards the exit. Muddled we walked towards the station exit only to be gobsmacked by the sight of the imposing cathedral. Our vision was inundated with the gigantic black cathedral soaring high in front of us.
The colossal black facade of the cathedral beautifully decorated with statues, pinnacles, tracery, flying buttresses and intricate carvings left us awestruck. We were astonished to learn that the black exterior of the cathedral is due to the deterioration of the sandstone by the polluted air. Delighted we entered the cathedral. The cathedral is in the shape of a Latin Cross alike any other Gothic cathedrals with a lofty nave which is one of the highest Gothic vaults.
The south transept had a stunningly amazing stained glass window. The 1,220 sq. ft. prismatic piece of art consisting of 11,500 identically sized pieces of colored glass was installed in 2007. The other significant and awe-inspiring work of art in the cathedral is the Shrine of the Three Kings made of wood and decorated with gold and silver. The reliquary in the shape of a basilica church is believed to hold the remains of the Biblical Magi or the Three Wise Men which makes Cologne cathedral a major pilgrimage destination.
Visitors can climb 509 stone steps of the spiral staircase south tower to a viewing platform for scenic vistas of the Rhine.
The Romanesque Churches
The cologne cathedral is the epitome of glorious gothic architecture but a trip to cologne does not end here. Definitely worth visiting are the 12 Romanesque churches in the city at a walking distance from the cologne cathedral.
Due to time constraint, we visited only a few of the churches in the close vicinity and headed to explore the lively old town along the Rhine.
For Museum Enthusiasts
For museum enthusiasts, Cologne has around 30 museums of which the most popular is the Ludwig museum that houses a collection paintings and sculptures representing the modern art. The Romano-Germanic Museum walks one through the rich history of the Romans along the Rhine. Explore the long history of the chocolates in the Chocolate Museum.
The bustling quaint narrow alleys and houses of old town beckon tourists with its historic charm and vibrancy. Stroll along the Rhine or spend some time around several pubs, restaurants, museums and monuments. The historical city hall of Cologne is one of the oldest building. The five storey impressive gothic style tower from the 15th century and the 16th century Renaissance style loggia are an exemplary of remarkable architecture.
We found this gorgeous 19-century fountain with the Jan-von-Werth monument in the middle of the Old Town Square.
Hohenzollern Bridge and the Love Locks
We walked through a park behind the Cologne Cathedral, which had a long promenade along the Rhine River where many tourists and locals relaxed and enjoying their leisure time.
The most interesting was a stone sculpture fountain also known to be Paolozzi fountain. We shot some pictures of the fountain and walked towards the bridge through the enchanting hues of the fall.
The four equestrian statues of Prussian kings and German emperors of the Hohenzollern dynasty stand along the bridge which gives the bridge its name.
The rail bridge has six tracks and around 1200 trains pass every day. There is a pedestrian walkway for visitors to enjoy the beautiful vistas over the Rhine and the city of Cologne. The most breathtaking sight is the colorful spectrum of the Love Locks from one end of the bridge to other. It is believed that there are more than 40,000 padlocks on the bridge weighing over 2 tons in total.
Cologne is not only about churches and museums. The city has a vibrant nightlife with an abundance of clubs. A wide variety of branded shops like fascinate tourists on a shopping spree.
Visiting Cologne is a walk through the gothic architecture through dozens of cathedrals but the city’s famous Cologne Cathedral is a must visit for the art lovers.
Have you been to Cologne and amazed by the magnificent Cologne cathedral? Share your experience with us in comments.
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