Cologne’s Famous Cathedral & Kolsch

We were lucky enough to have visitors just a few months after moving to Germany.  Our friends flew across the pond for a 10 day German extravaganza (just for some background info-all the men went to college together and the wives are all close now too).  Our first stop on this whirlwind trip of ours was to Cologne which is about 2.5 hours north of where we live.  Cologne is most famous for it’s cathedral, which is breathtaking, and the most visited place in Germany.  The cathedral is home to the skeletons of the three kings/wisemen, which has made it an important religious site to visit, in addition to a stunning architectural one.

This is a life size replica of the tips of the spires of the cathedral, so you can see how huge it really is.

When we visited Cologne, the city was buzzing with excitement. The square was full of people, street performers, and soccer football fans.  Cologne played Berlin the day we were there and the fans were pretty rowdy.  We saw them all over the place decked out in team colors, carrying beers (yes, in Germany you can walk on the street with a drink), singing, and chanting.  And because of all the fans, there were a lot of policemen out on the streets watching, which was a little unnerving.

 Also in the area in front of the cathedral is this arch that has been standing since Roman times.  The city was a part of the Roman Empire, and has many Roman artifacts in it.

We are looking at a mosaic floor made by the Romans.  The original Roman city sat underneath where the street level is now.  
We had just enough time for a beer before our cathedral tour.

Time for the tour! It ended up that our tour guide was a little less than entertaining, but gave lots of interesting information.

There are so many different stained glass windows inside.  Some are from the 1200’s and 1300’s, and some are as new as 5 years old.  The cathedral has suffered damage throughout some of the wars here which is why some of the windows are much newer.

The flags with the three crowns (for the three kings) is a symbol for Cologne.
This window shows stories involving children, and you can see a depiction of David and Goliath (middle left).
This is the window that is only 5 years old.  It’s obviously much different than most stained glass designs you see in churches.  It’s all colored squares, there is supposed to be some symmetry in it, but I couldn’t see it.

After the cathedral tour, we decided to climb 509 steps up the spiral staircases of the tower to take in the view.  The climb was not my favorite part, the staircases are very narrow and when you walk up you have to walk on the inside of the staircase where the steps are smaller and there is no railing.  Every time we would pass people going down I would feel like I was going to fall down the stairs.  And it was such a tight spiral that going around and around made me feel really dizzy.   However if you can get past all that, the view was great!

The Rhine River from above.
Checking out the view.

After the tour we headed over to a brewery to try the local beer, kolsch.  Here the waiters don’t ask if you want more kolsch, they just keep bringing you the small glasses and mark tallies on your coaster for how many you’ve had.  You put your coaster on top of your glass when you don’t want anymore.

The men enjoying kolsch and a meat and cheese platter.
Our coaster at the end of the night, I believe the total was 131.

Needless to say we had a wonderful time!  I really wanted to go to the Ludwig Modern Art Museum,  but we couldn’t quite fit it in to our day.  I guess we will just have to go back!

Where are your favorite places to eat, see, and sleep in Cologne?