COLOGNE – Right in the Middle of Europe

Founded by the Romans, "Colonia" – today's Cologne, the oldest city in Germany – is still characterized by its 2000 year history.  With a population of just over one million, it is also the fourth-largest city in Germany.  And it is one of the most important crossroads in Western Europe, where its central location on the river Rhine still ensures that commerce and industry continue to flourish in this international trade fair centre.

All the high-speed trains stop here, whether Thalys/Eurostar, Metropolitan or City Night Express. With ICE high speed train the Frankfurt-airport can be  reached in 55 minutes. Airport Cologne/Bonn and the nearby Dusseldorf-Airport provide worldwide connections with over 200 destinations. Most of the new low cost carriers start from here.

As an international trade fair and conference centre with over 250 hotels and nearly 22 000 beds, Cologne is always ready to welcome its visitors. 

The Cologne Trade Fair Centre KölnMesse serving for 25 industries with its pilot fairs is the number one among the trade fairs venues. Every year over 30,000 exhibitors and 1.4 million visitors from 170 countries to attend the roughly 50 trade fairs and exhibitions.  The best known exhibitions include Photokina, Anuga, Orgatec, Furniture Fair, Domotechnika, and Art Cologne.

KölnMesse (© Günther Ventur)

Cathedral (© Inge Decker)

Cologne is also known as the "Media and communications city" thanks to its unique blend of art, culture and creativity forming an ideal basis for media and broadcasting companies.  No fewer than eleven broadcasting companies are domiciled in Cologne, including WDR – Westdeutscher Rundfunk – the largest in Europe.

It is also a centre of excellence for research and academia. 85,000 students are enrolled at Cologne University and the city's various colleges.

The Gothic cathedral with its characteristic spires is Cologne's landmark and houses the golden Shrine of the Three Magi, as well as numerous other precious reliquaries.  The cathedral is encircled by twelve Romanesque churches, truly outstanding examples of Medieval church architecture.

Almost all the sights worth seeing can be reached on foot from the 750 year old cathedral, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1998. 

These include museums of worldwide importance, such as the Museum Ludwig for modern art, the Roman-Germanic-Museum, the Diocesan museum and others.

Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, the "mother" of all Cologne museums, transferred recently to a new building between the City Hall and Gürzenich Hall and owns the Fondation Corboud collection of impressionists.

Museum Ludwig (© Walter Schiestel)
Architects: Busmann und Haberer

Cologne's sweetest museum, the Imhoff-Stollwerck Chocolate Museum, is only a short distance away, on a peninsula in the Rhine. Neighbour is the German Sports and Olympic Museum, both are active places and of interest for youngsters.

The old part of the city and the Rhine Garden with mooring quays, the historical City Hall, Pretorium (palace of the Roman city governor), Mikwe (Jewish bathhouse) and Gürzenich Hall are likewise located within view of the cathedral spires.

Entertainment is provided by the Philharmonie, Opera House, theatres, cabarets, musicals and the pop scene.

Kölnarena (© Günther Ventur)

The Pop Music Festival on the Ring Promenade  attracts about 2 million visitors every year in August and is the largest pop spectacle in the world.

Cologners and visitors enjoy the the full range of concerts at the Philharmonie, which has become the very centre of Cologne's highly varied music scene.

The new Kölnarena with seating for 18,000 is Germany's largest and most attractive multi-purpose hall.  Since its inauguration in 1998, the elegant building has turned Cologne into an absolute Must for such stars as Luciano Pavarotti, Elton John, Rod Stewart. Basket ball, hand ball  and the ice hockey matches with Cologne's local team, the „Kölner Haie“ („Cologne Sharks“) are the absolute favourites.

Shopping malls, passages and galleries are also becoming increasingly popular in Cologne.  The most recent are the Neumarkt-Galerie and the Opernpassage.

The range of culinary highlights extends from breweries of Cologne's speciality "Kölsch", the famous "Halver Hahn" and the waiters known as "Köbes" to Dieter Müller, the 3-Star chef at Schloss Lerbach.

The attractions for leisure and entertainment are many and varied: Zoo, Flora, the Botanical Gardens, the Rhinepark with dance fountain, the green belt, the cablecar across the Rhine and excursions up or down the Rhine by ship.

Altstadt (© Günther Ventur)

Carnival (© Inge Decker)

Six Christmas markets attract visitors to Cologne every year in December. Each has its own distinctive flair and a separate programme.

Carnival in Cologne, the "fifth season" with Rose Monday as the climax, is famous throughout the world.  Every year, more than a million people line the streets of Cologne to watch the Rose Monday Procession with the three stars Prince, Knave and Virgin.

The people of Cologne are always merry and relaxed, not just during the world-famous carnival season.  Their straightforward jovial way of life attracts visitors to the city from around the world throughout the entire year.

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