The Museums of Cologne, Cologne (Self Guided)

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.
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The Museums of Cologne Map

Guide Name: The Museums of Cologne
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: 3.6 km
Author: derek
1
Chocolate Museum

1) Chocolate Museum (must see)

The Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum was opened by Hans Imhoff on 31 October 1993. It is situated in the Cologne quarter Altstadt-Süd on the Rheinauhafen-peninsula. The exhibition shows the whole history of chocolate, from the beginning at the Olmecs, Maya and Aztecs until the contemporary products and their production methods. The museum belongs to the Top Ten of German museums with 5,000 guidances and 600,000 visitors a year.

A special attraction is the three-meter-high chocolate fountain, at which a woman dips wafers in the liquid chocolate and distributes them to visitors. Another interesting thing for visitors is the small tropiarium consisting of a glass cube with 10-meter edge length showing cacao trees of the species Theobroma cacao and Theobroma grandiflorum. Several production machineries were built as miniatures so that you can have a look at the production process of the small chocolate bars, which are given to the visitors at the entrance of the museum.

Why You Should Visit:
Gives a brief history of chocolate as well as more esoteric things like the religion & culture related to it. Great spot to view the Rhine river, too.

Tip:
Lots of free samples during visits and you can have your own personalized chocolate made.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun: 11am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum of Ethnography

2) Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum of Ethnography (must see)

The famous Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum of Ethnography is a must-visit destination in Cologne. This museum is a rich resource of cultural and ethnological legacy from the Pacific, West Africa, Oceania, Pre-Columbian America, Indo-China, and Indonesia. Constructed in the year 1901, it showcases the unique and extensive collection of its founder Wilhelm Joest who was a frequent world traveler. Restricted space here has limited the display of collections. A total of 65,000 items are presently displayed along with 40,000 publications and 100,000 historical photographs. You can also find an exhaustive Oceania collection, most of which from Bismark Archipelago islands and New Guinea and over 13,000 African objects that include traditional masks, sculptures and ritual items used during ceremonies by secret society members in Central and West Africa. Do not miss the richly decorated masks and daily life ritual objects. You will also find an exquisite, carved boat that belonged to the late King of New Zealand, a Trobriand Islands Yams storage barn and a Hawaiian feather cloak. This ethnology and cultural museum is one of a kind and is a major landmark in North Rhine-Westphalia. It reflects a deep understanding of non-European cultures and a respect for cross-cultural understanding.

Why You Should Visit:
Quite modern and interactive, with a good selection of different cultures, and the way some things are displayed is interesting (even fun?) for both adults and children.

Tip:
There are plenty of lockers to hold your coats and belongings.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 11am-6pm
3
Wallraf-Richartz Museum

3) 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.

Tip:
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
4
Roman-German Museum

4) Roman-German Museum (must see)

If you have been to Cologne, you would certainly have visited the Roman-German Museum, an important archaeological museum that has a large collection of Roman artifacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, on which modern Cologne is built. The Römisch-Germanisches Museum, which opened in 1974, is near the Cologne Cathedral on the site of a 3rd-century villa. The villa was discovered in 1941 during the construction of an air-raid shelter. On the floor of the main room of the villa is the renowned Dionysus mosaic. Since the mosaic could not be moved easily, the architects Klaus Renner and Heinz Röcke designed the museum around the mosaic. The inner courtyards of the museum mimic the layout of the ancient villa. The mosaic covers an area of 70 square meters and is made of millions of ceramic, limestone and glass pieces. This exquisite mosaic skillfully depicts the Greek God of wine Dionysus surrounded by dancers, Pan, Cupid, satyrs at a delightful table scene. The mosaic is in a good condition preserved by the remains of the building that fell on it during the fourth century Germanic raids.

Do not miss out the reconstructed Tomb of Poblicius, a veteran who served in the Fifth Legion. This tomb stands above the mosaic and is a major attraction here. It is 15 meters high and dates back to 40 AD. Another attraction you must not miss here is the Practorium. Ruins of this palace were found recently located close to the cathedral. This palace belonged to the Lower Germania Roman governors. All other exhibits are skillfully arranged based on themes and categories. Rhine valley Roman antiquities can be found on the second floor of the museum.

Why You Should Visit:
Really worth stopping by for an hour or two if you're into Roman artifacts, as there are three floors full of things to see and entry is very affordable.

Tip:
Check out the fine mosaics dotted throughout, as well as some highly interesting decorative pieces in the cabinets.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm, closed on Mondays
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Museum of Applied Art (MAKK)

5) Museum of Applied Art (MAKK) (must see)

Museum of Applied Art in the city of Cologne ('Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln', abbreviated MAKK) is a decorative arts museum featuring an extensive collection of porcelain, jewelry, architectural exhibits, weaponry, and furniture.

The city of Cologne decided to found an applied art museum in 1888. Originally, it featured collections of Matthias Joseph de Noel and Ferdinand Franz Wallraf. With the help of endowments, the museum was further expanded. Museum of Applied Art was originally built in a Neo-Gothic building in 1900. After it was destroyed in the 1943 bombing, it was relocated in 1989 to its present location constructed by Josef Berhard and Rudolf Schwarz in 1953-54. The plain, red-brick Schwarz-Bernhard building stands on the site of a former Conventual monastery, whose shape is still traced by the ground plan and the square inner courtyard. The late-Gothic Minoritenkirche on the south side still survives. The inner courtyard wall on the north side has been almost entirely glazed, acting as a "shop window" for the museum.

Today thousands of tourists visit the museum to see its large collection of over 100,000 items of European applied art from the 10th century to the present which is arranged chronologically by era and includes furniture, decorative carpets, small sculptures, dining utensils, luxury items, and decorative objects. For the sake of preservation, the textile collection is mostly displayed only in short-term special exhibitions. Museum of Applied Art is specifically known for its modern design collections. In one of the wings, you will find a collection of exquisite designs created in 2008 by Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. This stunning collection includes cameras, televisions, telephones, lamps, furniture and household items displayed and presented in a chronological and thematic manner. All pieces are created by popular designers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Dieter Rams, Ray Eames, Joe Colombo, Ettore Sottsass, and Philippe Starck.

Why You Should Visit:
Decorative arts to die for, including ceramics, glass, silver, jewelry, pottery, micro-mosaics, inlay, iconography, wood-carving, and furniture.

Tip:
You can touch the pieces, which really enhances the experience.
There is also a sweet cafe in the internal courtyard with its fountain.

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

6) 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.

Tip:
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.
7
Rhenish Photographic Archive

7) Rhenish Photographic Archive

If you love collecting photographs as memoirs of your trip, then you must visit the Renish Photographic Archive on your trip to Cologne, Germany. You can find an extensive collection of photographs on the culture, architecture and art of Cologne at the Rheinisches Bildarchiv. This archive is today a part of the Museen der Stadt Köln. Founded in 1925, Renish archive has been meticulously documenting Cologne’s urban development, topography, city museum inventories and public constructions. If you love photography, you will be thrilled to view the collection of historical photographs of Rhineland villages and towns on display here.

In recent years, this archive has collected some amazing photographs of famous photographers in Cologne like August Kreyenkamp, August Sander, Hugo Schmölz, Karl Hugo, Chargesheimer and P.P. Fürst. One of the most striking features of this archive is that most of the photographs are preserved as black and white negatives using different formats and techniques. These precious negatives are under the care of a specialist who takes care and restores them if necessary. The Marburger Index located in the Museum of Applied Arts reading room can be used by visitors to search for photographs. You can address any queries to the courteous staff at the archive and reading room.

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.
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
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
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
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: 1.4 km
Beerhouses Tour in Cologne

Beerhouses Tour in Cologne

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
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation 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: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Cologne for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Cologne has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Cologne, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.