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Cologne Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Cologne

Straddling the river Rhine, Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany and a major European metropolis and cultural center. The latter is manifested in the richness of impressive architecture and fine museums found in the city. When in Cologne, make sure to explore the city's most popular places of interest with the help of this orientation walk!
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Cologne Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Cologne Introduction Walk
Guide Location: Germany » Cologne (See other walking tours in Cologne)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 Km or 3.3 Miles
Author: audrey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Historic Town Hall
  • Wallraf-Richartz Museum
  • Farina Fragrance Museum
  • Schnuetgen Museum
  • St. Apostles Basilica
  • Hahnen Gate (Hahnentorburg)
  • Cologne City Museum
  • St. Andreas Church
  • Street Singers (Straßenkünstler)
  • Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)
  • Cathedral Square Floor Paintings
  • Museum Ludwig
  • Hohenzollern Bridge
  • Hohe Strasse
Historic Town Hall

1) Historic Town Hall (must see)

The town hall in Cologne was constructed by Wilhelm Vernukken between 1569 and 1573. He was a well-known master builder. This building is also referred to as loggia and is a standing example of a typical Renaissance era construction. Originally, the function of loggia was to act as a link between the citizens and the city council. Even today, in many aspects, it functions in the same manner. Previously, latest rulings used to be informed to the citizens during the morning address at the loggia. Now, it acts as an informal link between Cologne citizens and the council. It houses part of the city government, including the city council and offices of the Lord Mayor. It is Germany's oldest city hall with a documented history spanning some 900 years. The history of its council during the 11th century is a prominent example for self-gained municipal autonomy of Medieval cities. Today's building complex consists of several structures, added successively in varying architectural styles: they include the 14th-century historic town hall, the 15th-century Gothic style tower, the 16th-century Renaissance style loggia and cloister, and the 20th-century Modern Movement atrium. The so-called Spanischer Bau is an extension on Rathausplatz but not directly connected with the main building.

On the upper floor parapet, you can find an exquisite sculpture that depicts the struggle between a lion and mayor Gryn. This sculpture was created to symbolize the council’s power. The tower of the town hall was constructed by the Cologne Guilds between 1407 and 1414. The height of this tower is 61 meters and there are a total of five floors. Three lower floors are tetragonal shaped and the two upper floors are octagonal. At the upper floors, you can find a popular wooden sculpture with a grotesque face called "Platzjabbeck" and 130 impressive stone statues. When the tower clock strikes twelve, the grotesque faced statue sticks out its tongue. Other impressive features of the City Hall you must not miss include the Gothic shaped Hansasaal, which is the meeting room and the heart of town hall, the eight figures of prophets located at the north side, council chairs and the wood inlay doorways.

Why You Should Visit:
Oldest town hall in Germany; a complex of different architectural styles, pleasant to see. The stone-paved area is perfect for a walk.

Nice views from the other side of the river, along with the bridge and the cathedral.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Wallraf-Richartz Museum

2) Wallraf-Richartz Museum (must see)

The Wallraf-Richartz Museum is one of the three major museums in Cologne, Germany. It houses an art gallery with a collection of fine art from the medieval period to the early twentieth century. Part of its collection was used for the establishment of Museum Ludwig in 1976. The Madonna in the Rose Bower, is among the Gothic paintings in the collection of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. It was created by Stefan Lochner, who lived between 1410 and 1451 in Germany, mainly working in Cologne. Jacob van Utrecht is the painter of the altarpiece for the Great Saint Martin Church in Cologne, dated 1515, which is now in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. Among other works from the Early Renaissance in the collection is Adoration of the Child (Bosch) by Hieronymous Bosch. The Wallraf-Richartz collection includes the work of Impressionist painter, Berthe Morisot.

Why You Should Visit:
Especially noteworthy for its medieval paintings, but acts as an art glossary or an art-Wikipedia, or if you more prefer a virtual museum, where you can find all relevant data concerning the articles on art terms, historical events, personages, cities, museums, and churches.

There's a big shop-cafeteria area downstairs where you can sit down for a break or when you've finished.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm; closed on Mondays
Sight description based on wikipedia
Farina Fragrance Museum

3) Farina Fragrance Museum (must see)

One of the popular tourist attractions in Cologne is the Fragrance Museum and Shop. This shop is across the City Hall and close to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. Founded in 1709 by John Maria Farina to provide visitors with an insight into the art of producing perfumes, the museum is the eldest fragrance factory still standing and houses the registered office since 1723. Here you will see how perfume is produced using different methods. Over several floors, the museum provides a very detailed insight into the production methods of perfume throughout the various stages. The focus is primarily laid on Eau de Cologne, and you will, therefore, discover some particular technical devices such as distillation apparatus which were once used. In addition to the equipment, you will also be able to witness the evolution thanks to various pictures and documents which help trace back history. Moreover, as copyright didn’t exist in those days, many imitations and forgeries of Eau de Cologne rapidly appeared on the market and a certain number of them are also presented in the museum. Further details as to the changes in the manufacturing of Farina Eau de Cologne are also on display.

A staircase will lead you to the original cellar vaults, right back to those ancient days. This is where scents were produced three hundred years ago. On 25 November 2006, in commemoration of John Maria Farina’s 240th death anniversary, the Farina House was elected “place to be” within the context of the project “Germany Land to be”. On your trip to Cologne, visit the perfume museum and learn all about what this city is popularly known for. Go through an interesting 300-year-old journey unfolding the essence, culture and fragrance of the perfume industry here.

Why You Should Visit:
Super-educational on the history and realities of fragrances.
Takes 1 hour and is very central near the Dom.
You will also receive a small free sample of l'eau de Cologne at the end.

Visit early or a day in advance to book a tour, as they do it in small groups and on a language-by-language basis.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-7pm; Sun: 11am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Schnuetgen Museum

4) Schnuetgen Museum (must see)

Schnutgen Museum brings to the present the strident, colorful, vibrant and romantic Middle Ages. Middle Age is all about magnificence, grandeur, contemplation, religion and spirituality. All these aspects of the age are revealed expertly at the Schnutgen Museum. Though the museum is devoted to Christian religious art, mainly medieval, some parts of the collection, such as its textiles and prints, extend from antiquity to the modern period. In 1906, the collection of Alexander Schnütgen was donated to the city, and the collection has continued to expand so that until the opening of a new building in 2010, only about 10% of its 13,000 items could be displayed. Now some 2,000 objects are on display in 1900 sq.m. of gallery space, with an additional 1300 sq. meters for special exhibitions. Schnütgen was a Catholic priest and theologian; according to the museum website "Up to now people tell stories about his zealous and sometimes crafty collection tactics".

Back then, Cologne was one of the most powerful cities in Europe. At this museum, you can enjoy the very essence of people who lived during this multifaceted era. Here you will find a range of exciting, priceless collections of international importance. These include carved sculptures and artworks in gold, bronze and ivory, wood and stone sculpture, textiles, manuscripts and glass paintings.

Art has always been a medium that helps us understand our past, present and our very existence. Artworks that have survived through ages give us an insight into the culture and lifestyle of the bygone era. Schnutgen Museum introduces visitors to a world of beautiful, magnificent, timeless art. Tourists throng this museum to enjoy the exceptional aesthetic experience. In the 1950s, Karl Band was instrumental in extending the Romanesque St. Cecilia Church to include the museum. The latest addition here is the charming St. Cecilia Garden that acts as an ideal open-air exhibition platform. This garden features a range of medieval plants arranged in a contemporary design.

Why You Should Visit:
Stands out for at least three things: the frescoes in the church; the antiquity of some items (11th/12th century); some peculiar items that you don't usually see in similar museums, particularly the 'memento moris', i.e. miniature skeletons in coffins.

Go by the nice café with outdoor seating should the urge to snack hit.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm; closed on Mondays
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Apostles Basilica

5) St. Apostles Basilica

The Basilica of the Holy Apostles (Basilika St. Aposteln) is one of the 12 Romanesque churches in the Old Town of Cologne, located near Innenstadt's busy Neumarkt. The former collegiate church is dedicated to the twelve Apostles. The church has a basilical plan of nave and aisles, and like Groß St. Martin and St. Maria im Kapitol, has three apses at the east end making a trefoil plan. The basilica is impressive by its "triconch choir" and three towers integrated into it. One of the towers is about 67 meters high, which makes it the third highest tower among the 12 Romanesque churches. The church also has a number of columns which form the larges arches and create a spectacular view when observing the nave.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hahnen Gate (Hahnentorburg)

6) Hahnen Gate (Hahnentorburg) (must see)

You can enter the city of Cologne through 12 gates and the Hahnen Gate, or 'Hahnentorburg' is the most popular among them. It was through this gate that the German Kings arrived in this city after their coronation in Aachen. They paid a visit to the Cologne Cathedral and prayed at the Three Magi shrine. Construction of this gate spanned five years between 1235 and 1240. The land surrounding the gate was owned by a citizen Hageno and the gate was probably named after him. Over a period of time, people started referring to the gate as Hahnentorburg.

This gate features two towers that are crenelated and semi-circular in shape. Before you enter, look up above the entrance where you will find a beautiful depiction of Cologne’s coat of arms. It was in 1890 that the tower was first renovated. Renovation work was carried out by Josef Stubben, one of the city's famous architects. You can find a memorial plaque here that commemorates his construction outside the city walls. During World War II, the tower was again damaged and reconstructed later.

Hahnentorburg has performed many functions through ages. It has been used as an exposition hall, museum and a prison. Today, this popular tourist spot is home to the carnival society, Ehrengarde der Stadt Köln 1902 e.V.

Why You Should Visit:
Massive gateway from medieval times and probably the best in Cologne.

Some great pubs, bars, and restaurants close-by, and worth the walk along parts of the old wall or to the Rhein...
Cologne City Museum

7) Cologne City Museum (must see)

Cologne City Museum ('Kölnisches Stadtmuseum') is the place to visit if you want to know what Cologne is all about. Here you will find this city’s history, details of lifestyle and all about the people who lived here right from the Middle-Ages. There are knight armors, small-scale town models and Otto engines that tell vivid stories that depict the very essence of this city. Also known as the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, it was founded in 1888 and shifted in 1958 to Zeughaus, the city’s armory. On your trip to the museum, remember to visit the adjacent Prussian, neo-classical building Alte Wache. Here you will find interesting exhibitions on the art and history of Cologne.

The museum's ground floor features the city’s political history right from the Middle Ages, while the upper floor displays its economic and cultural history. You can find at least 5,000 exhibits on display across the 2,000 sqm exhibition space. You will also learn about some of the unique characteristic phenomena of Cologne such as the local beer or Kölsch, nepotism or Klüngel, the internal combustion engine discovered here, Eau de Cologne, puppet theater or Hänneschen and carnival.

Why You Should Visit:
You will be surprised at how much you will learn about magnificent Cologne and about Germany itself.
Visiting this museum will help you appreciate what you will be seeing on the remainder of your visit to Cologne.

Access to the museum is via the glass lift at the center of the Neumarkt Passage.
Taking the audio guide is always recommended -- unless, of course, you speak/read German.
St. Andreas Church

8) St. Andreas Church (must see)

St. Andrew's Church (German: St. Andreas) is one of twelve churches built in Cologne in that period. Archbishop Gero consecrated the church in 974, dedicating it to St. Andrew, although an earlier church at the site was dedicated to St. Matthew. In the 12th century, the church was rebuilt in the Romanesque style and was probably completed after the great fire of Cologne in 1220. This church also features a number of attractive middle age sculptures, paintings, and murals. In the crypt of the church lies a Roman sarcophagus from the 3rd century, which holds the remains of the 13th-century theologian and natural philosopher St. Albertus Magnus. Remains of murals can be found at the nave show’s side chapels. In the 2nd century BC, Maccabeus brothers and their mother were martyred for their faith. You can find all three of them in the Maccabeus shrine that dates back to 1527.

One of the most striking features of this church is its exquisite combination of Gothic and Romanesque styles. It also has an impressive octagonal tower. Enter the gracefully elegant late Gothic choir hall and you will be floored by its sophistication and grandeur. Rich ornamental elements are expertly displayed in the Romanesque section. Do not miss out the late 19th-century dark chancel window additions. The subterranean room is artificially illuminated for a stunning effect. Extremely thin pillars support flat light domes that distribute indirect light.

Why You Should Visit:
Very photographic and a great place to unwind after the hustle and bustle of the train station & the Dom.

You can pop into one of the innumerable bars, restaurants and pubs close-by after visiting...
Sight description based on wikipedia
Street Singers (Straßenkünstler)

9) Street Singers (Straßenkünstler)

This is one of the historic characters in the Cathedral Square. It represents a duo of medieval street performers that once walked the streets of Cologne. Street musicians are still commonplace in Cologne, but they represent a modern version.
Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

10) Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) (must see)

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom, officially 'Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria') is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne, and is under the administration of the archdiocese of Cologne. It is renowned as a monument of Christianity, of German Catholicism in particular, of Gothic architecture and of the continuing faith and perseverance of the people of the city in which it stands. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cathedral is a World Heritage Site, one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany, and Cologne's most famous landmark. It is visited by 20.000 people every day. Visitors can climb 509 stone steps of the spiral staircase to a viewing platform about 98 m (322 ft) above the ground. The platform gives a scenic view over the Rhine.

Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, until 1880 to complete. It is 144.5 meters long, 86.5 m wide and its towers are approximately 157 m tall. The cathedral is one of the world's largest churches and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. Cologne's medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral eventually became unified as "a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value" and "a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe".

Why You Should Visit:
Simply jaw dropping in size. You may never see another church so detailed and so large.

Take a look at the beautiful mosaics on the floor in the Cathedral's rear part.
You may also climb up to the top for a great view, or find the underground parking with plenty of parking places and see the original foundations exposed there.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cathedral Square Floor Paintings

11) Cathedral Square Floor Paintings

The Cathedral [Dom] Square attracts professional artists who come here to draw pictures on the pavement. Among the floor paintings the most noticeable are the portrait of German composer Ludwig van Beethoven and a replica of the world famous Mona Lisa.
Museum Ludwig

12) Museum Ludwig (must see)

The popular Museum Ludwig in Cologne was established following a contract signed by Mrs. And Mr. Ludwig on 5th February 1976 donating their art collection to the city of Cologne. Irene and Peter Ludwig, through this contract, agreed to hand over 350 modern artworks from their extensive collection. Located at the building on Bischofsgartenstrasse, Museum Ludwig features a range of contemporary art pieces that reflect the essence of twentieth-century approach. It includes works from Pop Art, Abstract and Surrealism, and has one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe. It also features many works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Originally, Dr. Josef Haubrich, a lawyer in Cologne amassed the core collection of paintings on display at this museum. In 1946, after World War II, he presented his Expressionism collection that includes works of popular artists such as Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Erich Heckel, August Macke, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Otto Mueller. A selection of 100 paintings was displayed at the Old University of Cologne in October 1946. A 21-year-old student of art history, Peter Ludwig, was greatly impressed by this collection of art and decided to start collecting art and make it available to the public. This is the story behind the first ever gift of artworks from the Ludwigs to the city of Cologne in 1976. This collection includes works of Russian avant-garde artists: Malevich, Popova, Exter, Larionov, Goncharova and Rodchenko, dated 1905 to 1935. The building is also home to the Kölner Philharmonic. The Heinrich-Böll-Platz, a public square designed by Dani Karavan, is above the concert hall at the north-east of the building. If you love art, you must not miss a visit to the wonderful Museum Ludwig in Cologne.

Why You Should Visit:
Perhaps the most exciting museum to see if you're passing by Köln. Floor after floor, one room leads to another, and each work of art receives the needed space to come to life and impress you.

Easy to get to (100m) from the main station and there are free lockers for bags.
Don't miss the bookstore at the entrance; it is not the usual souvenir shop, but a seriously good selection of art books in several European languages.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 11am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hohenzollern Bridge

13) Hohenzollern Bridge (must see)

Hohenzollern Bridge is one of the eight bridges on this river and is an iconic structure. The bridge was constructed between 1907 and 1911 over the river Rhine after the old bridge, the Cathedral Bridge ('Dombrücke'), was demolished. It was named after the House of Hohenzollern. This three humped bridge survived the onslaught from Allied bombers during World War II. When the allies invaded Germany, the bridge was blown up by the Germans as a block to slow down the advance of the allies. Cologne was then ravaged by war and this bridge sadly collapsed. Later on, Hohenzollern bridge was reconstructed. With a total length of 409.19 meters (1,342.5 ft), originally, the bridge was both a railway and street bridge, however, after its destruction in 1945 and its subsequent reconstruction, it was only accessible to rail and pedestrian traffic.

Today the bridge stands in all its grandeur across the river Rhine and is a popular place for romantic interludes. Couples come here to enjoy the breathtaking view of the riverside skyline of this wonderful city. Here they walk hand in hand with their loved ones despite the noise around. Romance is in the air and you can find metal fences with padlocks that feature lovers names etched on them through the entire length of the bridge. Tourists also come here to enjoy the unique atmosphere and to soak in the spectacular view.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the best walks in Cologne, with great views of the city and the Cathedral.

Visit in the late evening, as you will see the whole city in lights and enjoy a completely different experience than daytime.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hohe Strasse

14) Hohe Strasse

Cologne is a city packed with exciting shopping areas catering to a variety of shoppers from across the world. One of the big shopping streets in this city is Hohe Strasse. Since the year 1963, this pedestrianized street has been closed to traffic.

Right from the time of the Romans when Cologne was a large village, Hohe Strasse served as a stop for people on their way to Xanten from Rome. This street can therefore be considered to be a historical path.

Hohe Strasse is a shopping experience not to be missed on your trip to Cologne. Here you can find a variety of different establishments including souvenir shops, high street stores, emporiums and boutiques selling home ware, jewelry, shoes, clothes and much more.

This open air shopping mall extends for about a kilometer offering many exciting bargains for avid shoppers. After you enjoy purchasing what you want in Hohe Strasse, you can continue your shopping spree on the Neumarkt and Schildergasse. Here you will find many more home ware, toy shops and fashion stores offering interesting items.

On your trip to Cologne, set aside one full day to browse around shops at Hohe Strasse that offer a unique shopping experience.

Walking Tours in Cologne, Germany

Create Your Own Walk in Cologne

Create Your Own Walk in Cologne

Creating your own self-guided walk in Cologne is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Nightlife in Innenstadt-Nord

Nightlife in Innenstadt-Nord

Known as a city for students, Cologne is home to a large number of clubs. The colorful nightlife scene consists of different types of clubs, including nightclubs, lounges, and live concert clubs. Take this tour to experience the rhythm of Cologne's nightlife.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Rodenkirchen Walk in Cologne

Rodenkirchen Walk in Cologne

Rodenkirchen is the southern city district of Cologne. The district is known for its bridge, the impressive St. Maternus church and the two green parks which make Rodenkirchen an important district. Rodenkirchen offers you the opportunity to taste a bit of Cologne's food and culture, by visiting the famous Zum Treppchen and the Youth Kammeroper. Take this tour to find out more about...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Shopping Tour of Cologne

Shopping Tour of Cologne

Cologne is a remarkable city, with a traditional profile combining German and French elements. This tour is to help you shop for some truly good items, starting with delicious chocolates and biscuits to a wide selection of exclusive souvenirs for friends and family.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Architectural Landmarks in Cologne

Architectural Landmarks in Cologne

Cologne boasts Gothic, Neo-Romanesque and modernist architecture, such as the Cologne Cathedral, the 12 Neo-Romanesque Churches and some new glass and steel architectural splendors. The city has also some impressive remains that weren't destroyed during the war. Follow this tour to admire Cologne's best examples of architecture.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.8 Km or 4.2 Miles
Nightlife in Innenstadt-Sud

Nightlife in Innenstadt-Sud

Known as a city for students, Cologne is home to a large number of clubs. The colorful nightlife scene consists of different types of clubs, including nightclubs, lounges, and live concert clubs. Take this tour to experience the rhythm of Cologne's nightlife.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
The Churches of Cologne

The Churches of Cologne

For centuries, Cologne has been regarded as a very important religious center. The Cologne Cathedral is renowned as a symbol of Christianity and is part of the estimated 30 or so churches located in this German Catholic city.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.3 Km or 3.9 Miles