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Cologne’s appeal to visitors lies equally in its past and its present. Founded as a Roman colony in the year 50 AD, it is the oldest of Germany’s major cities. From its commanding position on the Rhine, it grew into one of the northern Roman Empire’s most important trade and supply centers. This prominence continued through the Middle Ages, when Cologne’s archbishops were some of Europe’s most powerful feudal lords. Early in the Renaissance period, Cologne founded the first municipal university, and was co-founder of the powerful Hanseatic League. Despite severe damage during World War II, many significant monuments remain from the city’s ...

Cologne’s appeal to visitors lies equally in its past and its present. Founded as a Roman colony in the year 50 AD, it is the oldest of Germany’s major cities. From its commanding position on the Rhine, it grew into one of the northern Roman Empire’s most important trade and supply centers. This prominence continued through the Middle Ages, when Cologne’s archbishops were some of Europe’s most powerful feudal lords. Early in the Renaissance period, Cologne founded the first municipal university, and was co-founder of the powerful Hanseatic League. Despite severe damage during World War II, many significant monuments remain from the city’s early history, most important of them its cathedral. UNESCO cited Cologne Cathedral as a perfect example of Gothic construction in naming it a World Heritage Site, and it is Germany’s most-visited attraction. Other monuments from Cologne’s illustrious and wealthy past are the City Hall, Gürzenich Festival Hall and Overstolzenhaus. But contemporary Cologne is just as appealing, with an almost overwhelming cultural life. The importance of the arts is perhaps best shown by the placement of the stunning Philharmonic Hall right next to the cathedral. A wide swath of public park ties the city center to the banks of the Rhine, a greenspace that is filled with locals and visitors in good weather.

Stillman Rogers
About the Expert

Stillman Rogers has written more than two dozen guidebooks, including Adventure Guide to Canada's Atlantic Provinces, Guide to Eastern Canada, and Adventure Guide to the Chesapeake.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Cologne is located in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, along the Rhine river between Dusseldorf and Bonn.
  • Language: German
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer and fall, or in December for the Christmas markets