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: 13
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.8 Km or 4.2 Miles
Author: audrey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Museum Ludwig
  • Cathedral Square Floor Paintings
  • Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)
  • Kreuzblume
  • Roman Gate
  • WDR Arcades
  • Peek & Cloppenburg Building
  • St. Apostles Basilica
  • Hahnen Gate (Hahnentorburg)
  • Roonstrasse Synagogue
  • St. Michael Church
  • Colonius
  • KölnTurm
Museum Ludwig

1) 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
Cathedral Square Floor Paintings

2) 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.
Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

3) 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

4) Kreuzblume

On the edge of the Dom Square there is Kreuzblume, the old ornament built in mid 19th century. While a classic Gothic-style ornament, it bears resemblance to Neogothic as well.
Roman Gate

5) Roman Gate

On the side of Domplatz [Cathedral Square] there is an ancient structure vaguely reminiscent of what was once a Roman wall. Built in the days of the Roman Empire, a symbolic gate now stands in its place.
WDR Arcades

6) 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.
Peek & Cloppenburg Building

7) Peek & Cloppenburg Building

Peek and Cloppenburg 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. 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.
St. Apostles Basilica

8) 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)

9) 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...
Roonstrasse Synagogue

10) 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
St. Michael Church

11) St. Michael Church

Located in the very center of the Belgian Quarter in Cologne, St. Michael Church is the third largest church in Cologne after the Cologne Cathedral and St. Agnes Church. Built in a Neo-Romanesque style under the design of Eduard Endler, the church was consecrated in 1906. The church is not only famous for its size, but also for its impressive interior.

12) Colonius

Colonius, or Fernmeldeturm is the telecommunications tower in Cologne and is a popular tourist attraction in Cologne. Built in 1981, at the time of its completion the Colonius was 252.9 meters high. In 2004 a radio tower added by helicopter increased the height to 266 meters. This addition allowed the broadcast of digital television (DVB-T) from the tower in the Cologne/Bonn region. Visitors from all over the world throng this tower to enjoy a stunning view from the 170 meter high viewing platform. Ascending through an elevator, you can soak in the amazing view of Rhine and the city of Cologne from the platform.

The Colonius possesses a cafeteria, viewing platform, and a restaurant, apart from antennas for radio relay and radio services within the VHF range. Because of a missing leaseholder, the visitor's area including restaurant and viewing platform is currently closed (as of 2013). If the weather is good, you will be lucky enough to enjoy a view of Dusseldorf and Bonn as well. However, the viewing platform and the restaurant have been closed to the public since 2009 due to unavoidable reasons. Though the revolving restaurant and the viewing platform is yet to be opened after it was closed in 2004, this magnificent, grand tower by itself is a sight to behold.
Sight description based on wikipedia

13) KölnTurm

At 148.5 meters tall, the Cologne Tower is the tallest office building in Cologne. Construction of the building lasted from June 1999 to November 2001. The reinforced concrete building was built in cooperation between the architectural firm Kohl & Kohl and the Parisian architect Jean Nouvel. It contains a suspended center core and the edge between floors to Pendelstützen. The floor plan of the tower is divided into three areas, with an 18 meter mast to the upper end. Overall, the tower has 43 floors, which can be reached by six elevators, each of which travels at a speed of 5 meters per second. The observation deck and restaurant, located on the 30th floor, were opened to the public in June 2006.
The glass facade of the building was designed with reflected light in mind. Pictures of the Cologne Cathedral and the skyline of Cologne's Old Town were applied to the glass via screen-printing. Depending on light exposure, different combinations of these images appear on the building.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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.
Cologne Introduction Walk

Cologne Introduction Walk

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!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Cologne's Museums

Cologne's Museums

Cologne is an important city in Germany with French influence that makes it a major cultural center in the entire Central Europe. It is the home of more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions vary from ancient Roman archaeology to modern graphics and sculpture.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Beer House Walking Tour

Beer House Walking Tour

Beer is an important part of Germany's culture. German beer is considered among the best beer in the world due to the German Beer Purity Law, which says that the only ingredients that can be used for producing beer are water, hops and barley. In Germany there is a wide variety of beer specialties. One of them, Kolsch beer, is brewed in Cologne. Take this tour to visit the most popular...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Shopping Tour

Shopping Tour

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
Cologne's Historical Churches Walking Tour

Cologne's Historical Churches Walking Tour

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: 6.1 Km or 3.8 Miles
Rodenkirchen Walking Tour

Rodenkirchen Walking Tour

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