Medieval flair, many attractions & simply a good timeColourful and picturesque narrow steep-gabled houses can be found on the banks of the Rhine near the Cathedral. Behind them are winding alleys with cobblestones, courtyards, romantic squares, hustle and bustle: That’s how Cologne looked like in the Middle Ages. Well, not quite, but almost because many structures here in the historic centre have been lovingly reconstructed. The medieval flair still exists — and so tourists as well as locals like to spend time in Cologne’s Altstadt (Old Town).
In addition to many larger and smaller attractions, Cologne’s Old Town has a variety of pubs, restaurants and breweries such as Früh that you can discover and which await you in the quaint alleys and traditional houses. Moreover, everything is located within walking distance.
If you want to learn more about this special neighbourhood of Cologne and its history, check out one of the popular city tours.
Lots to see and discover: Attractions, museums and curiositiesIn Cologne’s historic Old Town, you will come across monuments, fountains and excavations at many places and around which numerous stories are entwined: Examples include the legendary characters from the Hänneschen Puppet Theatre, Tünnes & Schäl, the Heinzelmännchen Fountain and various curious figures such as the infamous Kallendresser.
Cologne’s Roman past and its Jewish history in the Middle Ages were uncovered in the archaeological excavation area on Rathausplatz. Here, you can expect to find a lot of interesting information and indulge in the joy of discovery.
Alter Markt — the hub of Cologne’s old town — is considered Cologne's most traditional square with an area of almost 5,500 square metres. It thus surpasses Heumarkt as Cologne’s second largest square and has a long history. There is no street traffic here — but rather cosy pubs and outdoor spaces, especially in summer. In winter around Christmas you have the opportunity to visit the popular Heinzelmännchen Christmas Market at Alter Markt (Old Market).
The hallmark of Cologne: Cologne CathedralAnother important feature of the Old Town is, of course, Cologne Cathedral. It is one of the world’s largest Gothic cathedrals and has a legendary construction period that extends from 1248 to 1880. In the 19th century, Cologne’s main landmark, often cited as the “perfect cathedral,” was even considered a national symbol of Germany, and today it remains one of the most visited sights in the republic and should not be missed on your first stroll through the Old Town.
Germany’s oldest town hallMore than 800 years of building history are documented for Cologne’s historic Rathaus (Town Hall) — a stone’s throw away from the Cathedral. The Town Hall is a complex that consists of the core building, the town hall tower, the Renaissance arbour in front and an attached administrative wing. It almost borders Alter Markt. The Farina House and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum aren’t far away.
The home of Eau de Cologne — in Cologne’s Old TownYou will find the Farina Fragrance Museum in the original production rooms of the 18th century. This is where the world-famous Eau de Cologne comes from. Here, on several floors, you will see production methods, various historical exhibits and equipment such as stills. The world’s oldest perfume factory has been located here since 1723. A guided tour of the museum is a fragrant experience — especially when you go on a costume tour.
The city’s oldest museum: the WallrafThe oldest museum in the city of Cologne is one of the major classical art galleries in Germany. Here you will find the world’s most extensive collection of medieval paintings as well as art from the 16th to 19th centuries. In addition, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum has the most extensive collection of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist art in Germany.
Non-medieval art: in the Museum LudwigDo you prefer pop art and Picasso to medieval paintings? Expressionism and New Objectivity? The Museum Ludwig, located right next to the Cathedral, holds a cross-section of art from the last 125 years in store for you. The exhibits include 70,000 photos from the beginnings to the present — in changing exhibitions. This enables you to easily switch from the Middle Ages to modern times during your visit to the Old Town.
Shopping in Cologne’s Old TownMany people know Schildergasse and Hohe Straße or have at least heard of these streets. They are Germany’s busiest shopping miles and can also be found in the Old Town. Here, you’ll see shop next to shop and café next to restaurant. Shopping is writ extra large here.
Even though everything in the Old Town of Cologne is within walking distance, a single day may be enough for a long walk followed by a Kölsch beer in the pub Früh, but probably not for all the sights. You’ll just have to come back again and have a good time…
Bus stop available
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for individual guests
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Car parks are located in Cologne city centre, e.g. at Groß St. Martin (Große Neugasse) or under Heumarkt (Markmannsgasse 1-3), both open around the clock.