A city of towering spires:
As our riverboat approaches the city of Cologne, the three landmark buildings that stand out boldly from the Rhine River are the towering spires of Cologne Cathedral, the Groß St. Martin and the Rathaus. We hop into little green and gold trains which at first sight look and feel a little kitsch and touristy, but we soon learn to be thankful for them as the walk from our Rhine River mooring into the city is not a small one.
The mini-trains brought us to the Kölner Dom, Cologne’s famous Gothic cathedral in the main square. This masterpiece of Gothic architecture is one of the finest church buildings in the Christian world. Cologne Cathedral was actually modelled on a French design and built entirely in a high-Gothic style. Its external architecture is so complex, it must have given the builders a massive headache to carry out the construction. Its steep and very elaborate vaulted ceilings are supported by more than one hundred pillars. The light that streams in are through a multitude of exquisite stained-glass windows.
The cathedral’s most sacred treasure and the most important reliquary in the western world is the Shrine of the Three Magi, a magnificent gilded sarcophagus thought to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men. The Altar of the Magi is dedicated to the Three Kings, the patrons of Köln. More than 500 steps lead up the south tower, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. You could spend half a day admiring all the beautiful features of this cathedral, but we had to rush through so that we could take a walking tour of the city.
A Walking Tour of Cologne
Cologne was originally founded by the Romans and has a long and eventful history. When you do a walking tour around the city you can see evidence of this all over the town, including an old Roman north gate built in 50AD. You’ll see a striking group of twelve large Romanesque churches in the city centre which tells of the importance of the Church in Cologne’s development.
Rheingarten Park and old quarter are favourites with locals and tourists alike. They’re great places to enjoy a stroll and stop off at one of the traditional breweries.
When you get to the Old Market Square, look out for the sculpture of a man in a squatting position with his exposed derriere. Here we were enlightened as to toilet practices in the centuries past and how Eau de Cologne came to be invented.
In 1709, Johann Maria Farina from Santa Maria Maggiore by Domodoccola came to Cologne and established the oldest Eau De Cologne manufacturing opposite Gülichs-place in Cologne. In 1714 he named his elixir Eau de Cologne (Water of Cologne) in honour of his new home, placing Cologne on the map as a city famous for perfume. His perfume grew in fame and in 1887 Johann Maria Farina became supplier to Queen Victoria of England.
In 1986 a new building was built on the area of historical Farina house and is called “An Farina”. In 1995 the city of Cologne honored Johann Maria Farina with a statue at the tower of the Town Hall. Today the original Eau De Cologne is still produced by the Johann Maria Farina factory to the old secret formula.
In this pretty little courtyard, decorated with flowers, you’ll find the famous “Frauenbrunnen” (a women’s well) dedicated to the fairer sex.