Cologne's Architectural Landmarks Walking Tour (Self Guided), 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.
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Cologne's Architectural Landmarks Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Cologne's Architectural Landmarks Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Cologne (See other walking tours in Cologne)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: audrey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Hohenzollernbrücke (Hohenzollern Bridge)
  • Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)
  • WDR Arcades
  • Peek & Cloppenburg Weltstadthaus (Global City Building)
  • Basilika St. Aposteln (Basilica of the Holy Apostles)
  • Hahnentorburg (Hahnen Gate)
  • Roonstrasse Synagogue
1
Hohenzollernbrücke (Hohenzollern Bridge)

1) Hohenzollernbrücke (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.

Tip:
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
2
Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

2) Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) (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.

Tip:
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
3
WDR Arcades

3) WDR Arcades

Known as one of the architectural icons of the popular German architect Gottfried Bohm, the WDR Arcades represent a notable steel and glass work. The WDR Arcades are a part of the series of public buildings designed at the end of the 1980s in collaboration with Gottfried Bohm's wife, Elizabeth Bohm. The WDR Arcades are house to the WDR Library, the Historical Archives and the Press archives.
4
Peek & Cloppenburg Weltstadthaus (Global City Building)

4) Peek & Cloppenburg Weltstadthaus (Global City Building)

Peek and Cloppenburg Weltstadthaus is a spectacular building in Cologne constructed by master architect and builder Renzo Piano. A look at this wonderful building that is today one of the well known landmarks in this city, you will be struck by the creativity and style that flows through it. There is nothing conventional in this building that stands out for its elegance and sophistication. Renzo Piano has certainly built this with a passion that exceeds what is technically possible. This building showcases a range of new sensations and perspectives. Using stone, wood, glass and steel skillfully and in exquisite combinations, Renzo Piano has indeed created a masterpiece. Amidst Cologne’s concrete architecture, Peek and Cloppenburg building with its elegant, wide swinging glass body stands out, enriching the surroundings.

This is a shopping hub that is frequented by locals and tourists. The Weltstadthaus houses a department store and faces Europe's most frequented shopping mile, the Schildergasse.

This unique building was opened in the year 2005 and has since been a popular tourist destination. It has a total of five floors and the entire sales area measures 14,400 square meters. On your trip to Cologne, do not forget to visit the Peek and Cloppenburg building that stands as a testimony to the work of one of the greatest architects of our times.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Basilika St. Aposteln (Basilica of the Holy Apostles)

5) Basilika St. Aposteln (Basilica of the Holy Apostles)

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. It is one of the twelve Romanesque churches built in Cologne in that period.

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.

The painting by Johann Wilhelm Pottgießer, the "Martyrdom of St. Catherine", belonging to an earlier baroque side altar has been preserved in the northern conche.

The sculptures of the so-called Fourteen Holy Helpers come from the Chapel of the Holy Helper, which was demolished at the beginning of the 19th century. Restorations were carried out around 1898 (the color versions mainly come from this) and 1979 to 1983.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Hahnentorburg (Hahnen Gate)

6) Hahnentorburg (Hahnen Gate)

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.

Tip:
Some great pubs, bars, and restaurants close-by, and worth the walk along parts of the old wall or to the Rhein...
7
Roonstrasse Synagogue

7) Roonstrasse Synagogue

During the Roman times, it was in Cologne that many Jews settled down. This is the reason why the city has a rich Jewish history. There were a total of six synagogues built in Cologne. All of them were destroyed during World War II. In 1959, only the Roonstrasse Synagogue was reconstructed. Roonstrasse Synagogue, located in Cologne, Germany, is one of the five pre-Nazi synagogues of the locality, which was destroyed on November 9, 1938 during nation-wide attacks on Jewish-owned property when Germany was under Nazi rule. It is currently a center of Jewish community of Cologne, and consists of a community center, a small display of items associated with Cologne Jewry, and a kosher restaurant. Although the construction is relatively new, Roonstrasse Synagogue is striking in appearance with a stunningly decorative interior. The huge blue dome beckons visitors to enjoy the tastefully decorated beautiful and artistic ambiance.

Behind the beauty and grandeur, you will be reminded of the terrible holocaust that destroyed the remaining five synagogues along with thousands of Jewish inhabitants. Tourists from around the world come to this synagogue on their visit to Cologne to view the exhibits that tell them a comprehensive history of the city’s Jewish community. Do not miss out the Torah which was saved by a Catholic priest from a synagogue set on fire. Roonstrasse Synagogue is a perfect setting from where you can appreciate Cologne’s deep and rich history and learn about the rise, fall and survival of the Jewish community here. On August 19, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI visited Roonstrasse Synagogue. This visit was the second ever visit to any synagogue by any one of the Popes. There, he condemned Nazism and antisemitism.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Cologne, Germany

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles