Just a Dab Leaves you Longing for More
Cologne or "Köln", as the locals call their city, is so rich in history that excavations can date the area back to 38 BC when the Romans set up camp here. Cologne is over 2000 years old and was once a center for international trade. With that came riches, which helped build the city's incredible architectural gems – some of which are still being lovingly restored after World War II.
Exit the centrally located Cologne Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and find yourself smack dab in front of the city's biggest and best sight: the magnificent Cologne Cathedral ( Köln er Dom). Think of the church as your compass (moral or otherwise) around the capital of Rhineland. The edifice will seemingly follow you, as it can be seen from nearly every point in the city.
Rebuilt after a fire in 1248 this Cathedral can hold over 20,000 people and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The structure was badly damaged during World War II and now over 80 specialists constantly work on its restoration and maintenance. Stretching over 500 feet above this beautiful medieval city, you can climb the 519 steps to the top of the spire for a closer view of the handcrafted stone work. Aside from the colossal scale, the church claims to have the world's largest church façade, and houses a wide variety of religious relics and artifacts, including the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings.
Beyond the Cathedral, there are important museums housing prized works. But there's something to see that is so sweet, so popular, most locals and tourists flock to get a taste. It's the Imhoff Chocolate Museum. Visitors get to see the entire chocolate process from cocoa bean to chocolate bar. There's a three-meter-high chocolate fountain with a docent readily handing guests wafers to dip into the liquid goodness.
Continue to tempt your senses by visiting the home of the original Eau de Cologne at 4711 Glockengasse. Situated in the old town, the building houses a glockenspiel, which rings throughout the day (maybe as a reminder to douse yourself in scent?) To say you wore the original “ Cologne,” give yourself a brisk splash of the Echt Kölnisch Wasser from the fountain at the front door.
You may get splashed on your river cruise up the Rhine, which is included with your German Pass and any Eurail Pass that covers Germany. The country's longest and busiest waterway is surrounded by centuries-old castles and is a distinct way to see the city. Who knows – maybe you'll see a Rhinemaiden! (Time to read up on your Wagner operas.)
Cologne is perfectly situated for seeing other world-class cities. Perhaps that's why so many Eurail passes include Germany. Be in Amsterdam in just under two hours, Paris in just over three hours and to Brussels in less than two.
Think of your rail pass like cologne itself – the more you use it, the further it travels.
Contributed by: Kathryn, who works with our web department, has traveled extensively throughout Europe – utilizing all forms of public transportation!