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This delightful city (pop. 955.500) with Roman origins is the home of a stunning 13th-century Gothic cathedral, the Dom. The twin-spired structure is supported by 56 pillars and highlighted by magnificent stained-glass windows. Art lovers won’t want to miss the museum complex between the Rhine and the cathedral. It contains paintings from Dutch and German masters (14th-16th century) and modern art in a beautiful setting (white walls lots of windows and skylights and long halls). If you have time visit the Roman-Germanic Museum (3rd-century Dionysian mosaics).

Cologne’s a scenic city with plazas shopping and nightlife—well worth a one-night visit especially during its famous Carnival celebrations. A boat leaving Cologne follows the Rhine to Strasbourg in France. The most scenic part of the route lies between St. Goar and Rudesheim (lots of castles vineyards hills etc. There’s a pleasant train ride from Frankfurt to Cologne passing Lorelei the Rhine Valley and other pretty places.

The city of Cologne offers more than history: Whether street music on the Hohe Strasse or galas in the modern opera house, whether pavement painting on the cathedral concourse or old masters in the Wallraf Richartz Museum, whether the annual music festival along the inner ring road or carnival in the entire city - in Cologne all this becomes synthesized into a vivacious work of art - in a cosmopolitan metropolis boasting more than a million inhabitants which, despite its size, has never lost its neighbourly character.

Cologne is one of Germany's leading gastronomic lights. From venerable breweries offering unique Kölsch beer and typical Cologne delicacies to first-class restaurants - boasting well in excess of 3000 public houses, restaurants and breweries Cologne is one of Germany's leading gastronomic lights. Per head of population, no other city in the Federal Republic boasts so many public houses, and also many top-class restaurants.

The distinctive flavour to the city of Cologne is often put down to the inhabitants, or Kölsche, who take an enormous amount of pride in their city. Cologne, like most areas of Germany, has its very own local dialect of German, though this is unlikely to hinder the average sight-seeing tourist, as many of the landmarks of the city have English-speaking guides and information. For those tourists who speak German, and wish to practice it, the citizens have a lot of patience with those getting to grips with the grammatically difficult language. Colognians are a very friendly people; welcoming tourists of all types and with all interests.

The world feels at home in Cologne, where people meet for a Kölsch, a chat or simply a laugh. Life in Cologne is uncomplicated and vivacious - the tolerance and cosmopolitanism of its inhabitants proverbial.

Cologne stands on ground that is steeped in history. Numerous cultural monuments from the past 2000 years, such as the famous Roman Dionysus mosaic, the Jewish Mikwe, the medieval Overstolzenhaus and the Gürzenich hall, or modern structures such as the opera house (1957) and the Media park (from 1989 onwards) are to be found at the foot of the cathedral.

The characteristic elements in the history of the City of Cologne: commerce, transformation and transport, religion and veneration of the saints and modern art are combined within a highly confined area in the city centre, embodied by Cologne central railway station (1890 - 1894) and its restored glass and steel structure, the cathedral itself and the adjacent museums (Ludwig Museum, Römisch-Germanisches Museum).

Away from the landmarks, many workers of the German rail system (Deutsche Bahn) speak English, as well as ticket/timetable machines available in English modes. Local transport systems, however, rarely cater for the English speaker, with only the bare essentials of information available but this should only concern those wishing to explore the city away from the more centralised sights. Those wishing to explore away from the central city should plan their journey before leaving, to prevent minor complications as there is a lack of English away from the centre of Cologne.

Older people in Cologne tend to have little or no knowledge of English, whilst businessmen and women, as well as the German youth, all tend to have a good knowledge of the language. Language is rarely a strong barrier, so this shouldn't be too much of a worry for the average tourist, just approach a friendly native and use a smile on your face, your arms and legs.


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