As one of the major casualties of the Second World War, Cologne lost most of its ancient structures from thousands of catastrophic bombings. The city, however, made the most out of the ruins and reconstructed some of its well-prized treasures like the Cologne Cathedral which still stands proudly dominating the city’s skyline. It boasts of the largest facade of any gothic church in Europe. It is just beside the city’s central station so if you arrive in the city by train, it is the biggest welcoming edifice you would first encounter. The structure is so colossal it is impossible to capture an all encompassing image from the ground without using wide lenses or panorama.
From the church, we ushered our way to the riverside where the arched Hohenzollern bridge is waiting. We came on the day of the New Year so it was all but a mess with shards of bottles and trash everywhere. But just after we checked in our hostel, we returned to the riverside and it was all clean. German efficiency at its finest! At the riverside is also the old town with the famous St. Martin Church surrounded by colorful houses now serving as boutiques and restaurants. And what a finer way to celebrate our first time in Germany than a glass of draught Kolsch beer in typical humongous German serving!
Medieval and roman artifacts and ruins are dispersed throughout the navigable old town including remains of medieval city gates and watch towers that once protected the ancient city. One is close to the Lindt Chocolate Museum which is quite a delight. The museum shows a working prototype version of a chocolate factory assembly including robotic arms slicing and segregating the chocolate pieces. You can also have some of the small products afterwards including a free taste of wafers dipped in a gigantic chocolate fondue.
Being already a reconstructed and modern city, there is less to see in Cologne compared to other major cities whose old towns were not savagely crushed by the war but it could give you enough interesting itinerary for an entire day. Besides, Cologne could be a perfect hub for a tour of the other lovely Rhine-river cities all of which are just a few minutes away by train. And yes, there is always good beer at every corner so you will never have any reason to not have fun at all.
Bonus: On your next stopover to Cologne, you might try to go up the deck of one of its skyscrapers. The view from the Koln Triangle cylindrical tower across the Rhine, for example, is breathtaking and it’s for only 3 euros! The 360 degree panorama offers a view of the entire Cologne skyline and even Dusseldorf from afar.