Cologne - A treasure for the senses not just the nose
Perched on the banks of the Rhine River in Germany, the 2,000 year old city of Cologne is usually on the port of call list for river cruises in this part of Europe. It’s the fourth largest city in Germany and known for it’s plentiful art galleries, shopping, food and as the birthplace of the famous perfume “Eau de Cologne” which was actually used initially as a medicine against the pox.
The vibe of this lively metropolis is catching. There’s shopping, restaurants, cafes, bars and museums (even a chocolate museum!) as well as a thriving business centre. It’s the home of the biggest national and regional TV and radio companies, boasts the country’s largest university and is one of Europe’s biggest transport centres.
But if you look beyond the modern day hustle and bustle of the city, you’ll find an historic undertone well worth exploring. First settled in 38 BC, the city has seen numerous empires, takeovers, resurgences, tensions and changes in power as well as being the site where 37 women were burned at the stake during the witch hunt era in the 1400s.
Dominating the city is the famous landmark, the Catherdral of Cologne. Constructed throughout 1248 to 1880, the Cathedral is seriously impressive with incredible detail and intricate workmanship. The Catholic Church has bestowed the title of “holy city”upon Cologne, a term otherwise only award to Rome and to Istanbul. If you’re feeling fit and able, why not climb the 533 steps to the top for magnificent views across the city?
While looking over the city you may notice the architecture is somewhat mismatched and there is an array of styles amid the buildings. This is because during World War II the allies dropped some 44,923 tonnes of bombs on the city. Over sixty percent of the city was damaged and the central part of the city was nearly wiped out completely. By the end of the war, Cologne’s population had decreased by 95%, largely due to the evacuation of people to more rural areas.
Today, the population sits at approximately 1.06 million and the city offers numerous parks and recreation areas as well as attractions such as the Phantasialand theme park. You could spend several days here just exploring the museums.
Of course, while you’re in Cologne you must try Kölsch, Cologne’s very own beer. Germans take their beer very seriously and Cologne follows suit. Kölsch may only be brewed in and around Köhn may be called Kölsch. It’s a pale, straw-coloured beer that is a little sweeter than other German beers but is said to do well quenching the thirst!
River cruises visiting Cologne run pretty much all year but are more frequent in the summer months. In late November and early-mid December, the Christmas market cruises operate – a great way to get into the Christmas spirit!
We have a large range of river cruises available with a variety of cruise lines. Find one such package here or speak to one of our Ultimate Cruising experts if you would like further options. We also have some fantastic deals for solo travellers with little or no single supplement.