After the submission of Milan, the bones of the "Three Wise Men" were brought to Cologne in 1164. A large cathedral was planned for the important relics in 1225. The foundation stone for the Cologne Cathedral was laid in 1248, the cathedral was built according to the plans of Gerhard Rille. The choir was inaugurated in 1322. Around 1530, work on the cathedral was stopped. The cathedral was then around 60 m high and consisted essentially of the south tower and the choir. In between was an unfinished construction site. The flow of pilgrims dried up due to the Reformation and there was no money left to complete the Cathedral. When the old cathedral plans from the Middle Ages were found in Darmstadt in 1814, the desire to complete the building came up. Work resumed in 1823 and the Cologne Cathedral was finally completed in 1880. The two towers of the cathedral are each 157 m high. The Gothic cathedral was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. In 2007, "Gerhard Richter" windows were installed in the south transept. Cologne Cathedral is the third tallest church in the world after the Ulm Minster and Notre-Dame in Yamoussoukro (Ivory Coast).
In Martinsviertel you can still feel the atmosphere of old Cologne. Although the war destroyed many buildings, the character of the neighborhood could be obtained. The "Weinhaus zum Walfisch"is one of the typical medival houses on Salzgasse also "Haus Delft" at Buttermarkt.
As the harbor silted up, the old harbor basin was filled in and turned into a market. Before WW2, the old market Alter Markt, was one of the most beautiful squares in Germany. Only a few medival houses remaind like "Zur Bretzel", now home of the Gaffel brewery.
The old City Hall of Cologne consists of several parts of the building. The Cologne Town Hall is considered the oldest town hall in Germany. It was already mentioned in documents from 1152. The widely visible council tower was built in 1414.
The three-aisled basilica Gross St. Martin (Big St. Martin) was built in the 12th century on the basement of the Roman warehouses on the Rhine island. During World War II, the church was badly damaged. In 1985 the reconstruction of the basilica was completed. Since then, the mighty tower is again a landmark of Cologne.
The former church of St. Alban was destroyed during World War II and was not rebuilt. The ruin is a mute witness to the destruction and a memorial to the dead of the World War. The original church was built around 1670.
The origin of the Hohe Straße goes back to the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. The cardo-maximus was the main axis in north-south direction. Even 2000 years later, it is still the most important shopping street in Cologne. The pedestrian zone is around 600 m long and extends between Cologne Cathedral in the north and Burghöfchen Street in the south. Since the Hohe Straße is barely 10 m wide it is often overcrowded.
The Eigelstein Torburg is a relic of the medieval town fortification. The name "Eigelstein" comes from acorn stones. The Romans had created a cemetery north of Cologne, as a sign of immortality, the Romans built pine stones. These were interpreted by the Germans as acorns. So the road came to her name Eigelstein. The gate was then named after the street. On the left side you can see the "Kölsche Boor" (Cologne farmer) with flail and shield.
Schildergasse is the second largest shopping street in Cologne. Large department stores and international fashion stores are located here. The Schildergasse is a bit more elegant than Hohe Strasse. The street runs in an east-west direction and is significantly wider than Hohe Strasse. Schildergasse connects Hohe Strasse with the Neumarkt.
In the time of the French occupation, the headquarter of the Cologne water received the house number 4711, which has been used since 1830 as a trademark of the fragrant water. In 1811 the numbering was changed and the main building "4711" was now on Glockengasse Number 12. The company later moved to Glockengasse 4. This house was completely destroyed during the WW2. The house was rebuilt in 1963 according to the Neo-Gothic house built before the war.
The "Hahnentorburg" city gate was part of the Cologne city wall, built between 1180-1220. The gate on the road to Aachen was also used as dungeon. In 1890 the "Hahnentor" (Rooster Gate) was renovated by Josef Stübben, the most famous urbanist of his time.
The popular district in the western part of the city center, between Aachner and Venloer Straße is the perfect place to enjoy the day. Numerous cafés and restaurants make the "Belgisches Viertel" (Belgium Quarter) a popular place in Cologne. The beer garden "Stadtgarten" is one of the favorite summer destinations in town.
The "Ulrepforte" was the oldest and smallest gate of the medieval city fortification. One reason for this was that there was no road behind the gate and the gate had no traffic function. Around 1450 the gate was walled and converted to a windmill (Karthäuser Mühle). The gate was named after the potters (Üler), which were located at the gate.
The "Severinstor" was also part of the medieval city wall. The gate leads to Bonn and to the south of Germany. The north-south direction along the Rhine was one of the most important trade routes of the Middle Ages. For this reason, the "Severinstorburg" also had a representative purpose. The city wall lost it's function in 1881 and was removed, but the "Severinstor" remained. Since then the gate building is used as a citizen center.
The Rheinseilbahn connects the two parts of Cologne, Rhiel and Deutz. It was built for the 1957 Federal Garden Show. The zoo bridge below was built in 1966. On July 30th 2017 a gondola wedged on a pillar. The fire brigade had to rescue all passengers from the cabins. The problem has been fixed and the Cologne cable car is crossing the Rhine again. On the way you will have a great view of the city. In winter, the ropeway is stopped. The season starts in late March. See link for opening times and prices.