On Saturday we took a six hour train ride from Passau to Cologne or Köln for the Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour Concert. Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany and is most famous for its massive Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom.
To get to the Cologne Cathedral, we had to cross the Rhine river by walking over the Hohenzollern Bridge, which is the most heavily used railway bridge in Germany with more than 1,200 trains crossing it daily. As you can see from the photo, the bridge is also popular for other reasons – mainly as a place for couples to attach their love locks.
Attaching padlocks to famous landmarks with lovers’ names inscribed on them is a popular trend around the world but it can also cause pretty big problems. Just earlier this month, love locks were taken down from the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris because the weight of all of the padlocks made part of the bridge collapse.
In 2009 the bridge operator of the Hohenzollern Bridge also threatened to take down the love locks, but gave up after public opposition.
The Cologne Cathedral is the city’s most famous and popular landmark, drawing in an average of 20,000 tourists a day. The building is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and stands tall at a height of 157 metres. It is also classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This cathedral was huge but so, so busy. The amount of tourists milling around inside the building sort of ruined the whole church experience for me, but the architecture style and sheer size of it was awe inspiring, none the less.
And for some crazy reason we decided to pay money to climb more than 530 stone steps to the viewing platform of the Cologne Cathedral, which was 97 metres high. The spiral staircase was narrow and full of so many tourists going up and down that the 30 minute return walk quickly turned into more than an hour. (I don’t recommend doing this if you’re in a hurry or don’t have much time!)
When we got to the top, we had a 360 degree view of the city, which was pretty cool. What was not cool however, was the amount of graffiti over literally every surface of the old stone walls and stairwells. Was it really necessary for visitors to deface every possible surface of a historic landmark? (And bridges too, for that matter!)
Another famous Cologne landmark is the Great St. Martin Church, which is a Romanesque Catholic church.
Now, what is a trip to a big city without having some shopping time, right? We got to go to the massive Primark store in the Neumarkt plaza, which is a huge clothing shop that is popular across Europe.
The Schildergasse is the busiest shopping street in Europe, with more than 13,000 people passing through every hour. The street had all of the usual suspects like H & M, Mango, Vero Moda, C & A, Bijou Bridgette – just bigger versions of them. Every shopper’s paradise!
Luckily for us, the hotel we booked was a five minute walk to the arena where the concert was on and the Cathedral, shopping precinct and railway and bus station were all in walking distance – which helped a lot. I really enjoyed our whirlwind trip to Cologne, besides the really cold weather, and the concert made it especially worth it – even the 9 hour bus ride home!
So, did you learn something new about Cologne?
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