- Lower Saxony
- North Rhine Westphalia
- Frisian Islands
- Harz Mountains
Cologne has a lot to offer. The fourth largest German city, it is also the country's oldest metropolis. It was founded by the Romans some 2000 years ago on the banks of the Rhine and traces of the ancient Agrippina Colony can still be found. As the years and centuries passed, the Rhine grew to be more and more important as a navigation channel and as a means of connecting the Alps to the North Sea . Thus during the Middle Ages the ancient Roman colony blossomed into a thriving trade centre.
One of the most important tourist sites in Cologne is without a doubt its impressive Gothic cathedral, one of Germany 's most famous and most frequently visited landmarks. Its construction lasted over 600 years and was finally finished in the 19th Century. The scene created by the two 157-meter high towers is one of Cologne 's focal attraction points.
The various landmarks, gabled houses and narrow lanes and alleyways found in the city's old quarter give the visitor a vague idea of what the city looked like before the Second World War, when 90% of the city center was destroyed. Nowadays tall, functional skyscrapers built during the post war period dominate the city skyline.
Cologne's attractions don't stop at the historic area, however, given that the city boasts a very broad cultural scene, with over 150 art galleries and almost 50 museums to visit: the Ludwig Museum - modern art collection-; the Roman-German Museum - displaying extremely valuable pieces of ancient art -; the Sports Museum, and the Chocolate Museum, just to name a few.
Music lovers will also find what they are looking for here. From classical concerts, to improvised music, techno or world music, Cologne is sure to have it. It is, above all, the Mecca for jazz enthusiasts. And as if that were not enough, it stages the largest pop music fair in Europe, Popkomm.
When the weather is willing, life buzzes around the cafes and bars found scattered abundantly all over town. The Ring is a boulevard that crosses the city center and follows the path set out by the ancient wall. This semicircular walkway is dotted with bars, restaurants, nightclubs and movie theatres.
However, the locals prefer staying in their own neighborhood or "Veedel". Everybody knows each other at the local bars and the atmosphere is familiar and pleasant. Here, the locals sit down to their favorite pastime: conversation. The clientele of most bars and restaurants include the different groups and clubs getting ready for the famous Cologne Carnival.
Another characteristic feature of Cologne is also its greatest pride and joy: "Kölsch", a highly fermented beer, golden, transparent with a fruity aroma. Cologne is currently one of the cities with more bars than any other city in the world; just a reminder: they only serve Kölsch.