One of my aims for my second semester in Mannheim is to visit every major German city and the first one I found myself in was Cologne, or Köln as it’s known in Germany. All my friends who had already visited Cologne had raved about the city, and it definitely lived up to expectations.
After a two-and-a-half-hour ICE train journey from Mannheim, we reached Cologne at around half eleven in the morning. Literally right next to the cathedral, the train station is in the centre of Cologne, making everything super easy.
Going to Cologne we obviously had a look around the cathedral, which is apparently the most visited landmark in Germany. Despite some random scaffolding (literally everything is always under construction in Germany), it was really impressive. It’s absolutely huge and especially beautiful on the inside, where there’s a selection of amazing stained-glass windows, some of which resemble kaleidoscopes.
After a handful of unsuccessful attempts at finding a restaurant I could eat in, we had lunch at a vegan restaurant called Sattgrün where you can get a lunch buffet for around €10. It turns out there are a few Sattgrün dotted around West Germany and I 100% recommend to any vegans and poor sweet boys travelling with vegans.
To get to the other side of the city, we crossed the Hohenzollern Bridge, a famous bridge which crosses the Rhine. Backdropped by the cathedral and adorned with lovers’ padlocks, the bridge has become a Cologne landmark in its own right.
Once we’d crossed the bridge, we visited the KölnTriangle which is a vaguely triangular glass building and one of the city’s famous monuments. For €3 we paid to go right up to the viewing platform to get a view of the whole city which was amazing. The building’s location makes it the perfect place to see all of Cologne’s important sights, including the bridge, the cathedral, and the TV tower.
Cologne is museum-central, with lots of weird and wonderful museums to visit. We decided to visit the EL-DE Haus which is a former Gestapo headquarters. It’s been converted into a museum which documents the horrors that took place in the building. It was sad but very interesting. Walking around the city, we also went to see two other important monuments; Great St. Martin Church and the Rathaus. Great St. Martin Church is an old Roman church in Cologne’s Altstadt and the city’s Rathaus is Germany’s oldest city hall.
We also spent a good hour walking around Cologne looking for the Belgium quarter which turned out to be a cluster of streets named after Belgian cities. But we did see a random other few sights on the way, like a giant archway which I have since learnt is the Hahnentorburg, a monumental set of Roman gates. We also found a random face statue whose significance remains a mystery but has since found a new and possibly deeper significance as the co-star of Alex Raisbeck’s Facebook profile photo.
This blog post is dedicated to my grandfather John Banwell. I hope you’re still following my blog from wherever you are; I will think of you with every journey I take, every fridge magnet I buy, and every blog post I write. XXXXXXXXXX