As Germany’s fourth-largest city with population of 1 million people, Cologne (Köln) is a home to over 100,000 students, and plenty of international visitors. It is a hub of energy, creativity and drive from all over the world that offers seemingly endless attractions and has always played an important role in German cultural flowering.
College is a time to have new experiences, and studying abroad is one of the most unique experiences there is. So, seize the opportunity to explore and embrace the nuances and charms of the vibrant metropolis of Cologne.
Cologne’s Old Town
The metropolis, located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is divided in two by the Rhine river. The “left Rhine side”, as locals call it, represents the heart of the city. The Old Town, together with Cologne Cathedral, the Romanesque church Great St. Martin and the tower of the historic City Hall, makes up the world-famous Rhine panorama.
The Old Town of Cologne has a particular charm. It draws the greatest number of visitors in the Cologne as it boasts meticulously preserved buildings and monuments. There’s nothing like learning about the history and culture of a city as you walk through its narrow, cobble-stoned alleys. You can visit many famous museums, such as the Wallraf Richartz Museum, the Romano-Germanic Museum, the Museum Ludwig, the Farina Fragrance Museum and the Chocolate Museum. Also, there are many beautiful monuments and fountains ornamenting the parks like figures of Tünnes and Schäl and the Heinzelmännchen fountain. Additionally, the Archeological Zone, one of the largest archaeological zones in Europe is taking shape. A spectacular museum landscape is being made in and under the Town Hall Square with a total area of about 10.000 m2 with 7.500 m2 of exhibition space. Even though the work is ongoing, usually some parts of the site are open for public, so you can explore it a little more.
One of the greatest curiosities in the city is the Cathedral, the Kölner Dom, which may be considered one of the finest monuments of ancient German architecture. Due to the building’s impressive Gothic architecture, the shrine of the Three Wise Men, the outstanding stained-glass windows and the many other important works of art, UNESCO declared Cologne Cathedral a World Heritage Site in 1996.
Theaters and galleries
Cologne is privileged to have a vibrant art and cultural scene with great variety of theatres, galleries and art exhibitions. There are over 100 art galleries and studios that offer both classical and contemporary art. One of the oldest and Germany’s most important art fair, The Art.Cologne, established in 1967, is held here. On the performance side, Cologne features three municipal theaters, the Kölner Schauspielhaus, the Hänneschen-Theater and the Kölner Oper (Cologne Opera House) and dozens of independent theatres which are very important part of the city’s cultural landscape.
Nightlife and festivities
Cologne is known as cultural hotspot in the western part of Germany, famous for its festivals, great nightlife and dynamic urban lifestyle. The Cologne music scene is diverse. In numerous bars, pubs and clubs you can listen to the finest music from all around the world. Moreover, the music festival “c/o pop” is hosted here annually, attracting nationally known artists as well as aspiring local musicians.
The most famous carnival, Kölner Karneval, is definitely something you must experience at least once in your life. It plays a very important role in Cologne. It has been celebrated since medieval times and cherished by locals as the ‘fifth season’ of the year. The carnival starts on November 11, exactly on 11 hours and 11 minutes. Starting from that time locals and visitors are welcome to attend more than 600 cultural events and take part in numerous competitions. Closing times for pubs and bars are suspended for the duration of the festival. The highlight of the festivities is most definitely a costume parade organized on main streets of the city where many carnival floats, large figures, marching bands from around the world and hundreds of people in colorful outfits celebrate life and all its pleasures.