I just loved walking around Old Town Cologne; it's just so beautiful! There are so many colorful buildings, plazas and little streets to wander around and I would keep finding one area or building that I found to be cuter than the last! What I liked most it's not overrun with souvenir shops and/or other "touristy" attractions that would take away from it's beauty.
If you'd like to see more of Old Town (Alstadt), check out my travelogue!
The old town area of Cologne is not very big, but very quaint and picturesque, Some of the buildings in this area date from the Middle ages..There are lots of cafes and bars near the river where you can sit and watch the world go by or just browse the multitude of little shops.
The river promenade along the old town is busy and touristy. Here the cruise boats land. From here the cruise tourists start their day visits to the town. With the increasing popularity of river cruises, the number of cruise tourists is rising. My recommendation: get away from the surroundings of the boat landings as quickly as possible…
The old town area of Cologne is walking distance from the Dom and by the side of the river rhine. It is very beautiful. Some of the houses in the altstadt date back to the Middle ages but are very colourful and well maintained. Most of these houses have now been converted to Cafes, bars and restaurants where many people just hang out. I don't know the quality though.
A group of reconstructed, colourfully painted houses, between the Rhine and the Church Groß-St. Martin. The houses are not exact replicas of the original houses but resemble the original houses in size, style and proportion.
A lively spot on the banks of the river Rhine and in the shadow of the cathedral, the Altstadt and Alter Markt, the former Medieval market square, remains the heart and soul of the city. Badly damaged in WWII, it was rebuilt respecting the original layout and buildings destroyed. Groß St Martin, arguably the most significant of the 12 Romanesque churches to be found in Cologne, also casts its shadow over the Altstadt.
Easily the most touristy part of the city, Cologne's old town is a nice place to go for a stroll and you quickly find it just below the Dome. Here you can just sit in a bar by the river (but eat somewhere else - see my tourist trap) and watch the world go by. There is also the old Town Hall which I will once make into a tip of its own (last time I visited, it was covered in scaffolding). There are lots of little alleyways to discover even if the area as such is quite small and you cannot help wondering what the real old town looked like. Not only was the city bombed during WWII, but by then the Altstadt had already been changed by the nazi architects who wanted a more Hanseatic look to Cologne!
Alter Markt (the Old Square) is, as its name says, the oldest square in Cologne. I found it pretty much attractive but, in my opinion, not all of its sides were succesfully reconstructed, in particularly th side which is situated behind the Town Hall. Alter Markt is the heart of Colognese nightlife with many breweries and pubs all around the square. It is very vivid square, full of people during the day and until late night.
Heumarkt is, I suppose so, the biggest square in Cologne, the biggest I have seen during my exploring the town. It is very colourful square surrounded in three of its sides by the traditional Colognese buildings, each one coloured by different colour. The whole square was completely reconstructed after WW II, because the town of Cologne, except for the cathedral, was totaly smashed down in bombings. Some of the most beautiful, Colognese medieval styled houses, can be seen on this square.
Cologne was heavily destroyed in WWII bombing so not much is left of the old town. Still, some places were carefully reconstructed and now display the narrow cobbled streets and picturesque houses of the Old Town. The area was once threathened by the floods of the Rhine. Today it is full of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops directed towards the tourists that start to wander these streets after they explore the Cathedral and nearby museums. I was told that local people choose some other places to go out in the evenings.
This is the picture of the Fish Market - not much fish is sold here nowadays, but the houses looked lovely and very peaceful as the evening was slowly approaching and Sabsi and I were waiting for Gil before we settled for some real Cologne coffee.
After showing me the Cathedral from outside Sabsi started the walking tour showing me the rest of the sights in central Cologne. She proudly showed me the Roman street - the remains of the original pavements from the Roman city Colonia Agrippina.
Being born and raised inside the Roman palace of Diocletian in Split I wasn't very impressed by these small remains surrounded by modern buildings. (To be honest, I started laughing at the importance Sabsi showed to this small fact that once a Roman town stood here.)
It is nevertheless interesting to know that Cologne is an ancient city dating back to year 38 BC when the Roman colony was founded here and became Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippensium (independent town) in the year 50 AD. The prospering town had about 20,000 inhabitants and was surrounded by 3,9 kilometer long city walls.
This was the harbour area of Cologne, the area is now known as the "Alstadt".
All of these buildings were rebuilt after world war 2 to their 17th century appearance.
Today, they house cafes and offer a picturesque little square located by the river.
The Mikwe is the Jewish bath, dating back to the 12th Century, located near the Rathaus in the Alter Markt,.
You can see them through a small glass pyramid, but if you are lucky as we were, you may be able to climb down the steep steps and go inside. There is a small gate at the side through which you will gain access.
We were lucky enough to go inside, because there was a tour group down there, and so we just took it upon ourselves to be cheeky and go down as it was open! But if there is not anyone in there, then I believe that you may ask for a key from the Rathaus.
This is a pretty cobbled square that is home to both the Rathaus (Town Hall) and Mikwe (Jewish Baths).
Surrounded by a few bars and with beautiful architecture its well worth the visit.
The morning which we visited it was quiet, this would be a far cry from the days when it was used as the market place in Cologne!
The old 13-15th century houses of the Fischmarkt are amongst the most colouful and popular of Cologne. Plus no scaffolding here!! They are in a pleasant little square fronting the Rhine in the old town. Lovely place to have a wander and have a drink or a meal - the houses are all restaurants.