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Cologne's city hall is the oldest functioning building of its kind in Germany. It's certainly one of the most distinctive. The rathaus was built in the 12th century. Its Renaissance arcade loggia was added three centuries later along with the ground rectangular tower. It's very Italianate, and could have been plucked straight out of Milan.
Modern Art Glass
We went into the Rathaus which on looking back on it seemed a strange place for a tour to go as municipal buildings are most often viewed from the outside unless one has some business there.
Inside was a modern stained glass window - "The Life of the Town" by Professor Georg Meistermann. It was a kind of timeline of history. The major figures in the city of Cologne are lined up along its abstracted Rhine in a window. These included historical figures such as Agrippina in addition to more modern people. The 13 x 9-meter window is in the stairwell of the recently renovated Town Hall.
I took a picture of it and it is one of the few photos of the first part of my 1964 trip that I have so far found. But when I looked on the internet I could find no mention of it whatever, and no photos on VT. The internet problem was solved when GrumpyDiver explained that I was misspelling his name - it isn't Meisterman as I had thought. Even with the correct spelling I can find only one photo on the internet (other than mine which has a young girl named Scarlett who was on the tour with us standing in front of it) and that is on Wikipedia, which says
George Champion Meistermann (b. June 16 1911 in Solingen, June 12th 1990 in Cologne) was a painter, illustrator and graphic designer, and created over a thousand glass window at about 250 locations throughout Europe.
It is certainly a contrast with the Cathedral. We also saw (according to my notes from 1964) the foundations of the Roman Praetorium (or palace) which was underneath the Rathaus. These ruins were discovered in 1953 when they were doing excavation for a new wing of the Town Hall. It turned out to be the Roman city headquarters. The remains still lie under the city hall and can be viewed. The picture that I took of this is still missing.
There is an information desk in the lobby of the Town Hall where one can enquire about viewing the excavations.
Opening and Operating Hours
Monday to Thursday: 09:00 a.m. - 03:00 p.m.
Friday: 09:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
- Arts and Culture
Weddings at the old City Hall
1. Cleaning up after a wedding at the old City Hall
2. Sign telling wedding guests not to throw rice
The old City Hall is a popular place to get married. But wedding guests are asked not to throw rice, so they tend to throw confetti instead at the newlyweds emerge from the building.
The sign in the second photo reads:
A big request!
Dear wedding guests!
Please do not throw any rice,
because rice is a valuable food.
Also it prevents us from keeping the pigeon plague under control here on the City Hall Square, and creates a danger of slipping for the guests.
The old City Hall
1. The old City Hall in Cologne
2. Tower of the old City Hall
3. Old and new parts of the City Hall
In front of the Wallraf Museum there is an archeological site in which foundations of Cologne's medieval Jewish Quarter are being excavated and studied. And off to the right is the old City Hall.
This is said to be the oldest city hall in Germany, since it was built in this form in the 14th century on a site that had been used for the same purpose in Roman times and throughout the Middle Ages.
Most of the City Hall was destroyed during the Second World War, but the Renaissance loggia at the front of the building remained largely intact. The destroyed parts of the building were reconstructed, starting in the years 1954-56.
The huge gothic tower of the old town hall, built in the early 15th century, almost looks like a church steeple at first sight. The renaissance vestibule dates from around 1570. The town hall was rebuilt after the war and extended with modern wings. The building is a mix of old and new.
- Historical Travel
Cologne’s Rathaus is the oldest in Germany. It was built around the 14th century although many things have been added and changed thorough out the centuries. It did have a 61m gothic tower with goes all the way back to 1414 and the grand gallery and main entrance where added around 1573. World War 2 was a bad time for the Rathaus as everything but the gallery was destroyed. At the end of the war it was rebuilt to it past splendour – this took all the way up to 1995!
It is roughly near the alter markt. Most of the statues on the top of the tower are famous German people all the way through history. It is very close the cathedral, almost next door. It also houses old Jewish baths.
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Cologne City Hall is Germany’s oldest city hall. It was built in the 14th century, on the foundations of the old one, next to the city’s medieval Jewish quarter.
The City Hall’s gothic tower was added in the 15th century.
The Town Hall
Rathaus (the Town Hall) in centrally positioned, just a foot from the Dom and overlooking Alter Markt (the Old Square). Unfortunatelly, by the time I visited Cologne the adjacent clock tower was under the major reconstruction works.
The building is combination of late Renaissance and German Gothic styles, what makes it in particularly attractive. The front facade is adorned by arcades and balcony, which reminds me on Italian loggias.
The building that I liked the most was the town hall. The facade is wonderful, combining Gothic and Renaissance architecture. On the square in front of the town hall you will find a glass pyramid in the center of the square. It gives you a glimpse of the remains of Mikwe - the Jewish ritual baths.
Cologne got its first Town Hall in 12th Century and it was the oldest town hall on German soil. The present building that we find on Rathausplatz is younger - it was built in the early 14th Century. The tower was added in 1414 and Rennaissance arcades that shape the square were added in 1573.
Large parts of the Jewish quarter that stood here were burnt down in 14th Century and this created the opportunity to make a square in front of the Town Hall. A glass pyramid in the center of the square provides a glimpse to remains of Mikwe - the Jewish ritual baths.
Rathaus is the German word for Town Hall, and is located in the Alter Markt.
The facade is wonderful...its a beautiful building, combining both Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The statues on the tower are some of Colognes famous people throughout history.
- Historical Travel
Ok so what other buildings are worth seeing apart from the cathedral. Well the Rathaus really appealed to me with its beautiful loggia. Its bell tower which has a glockenspiel playing on some hours was under wraps and being restored. As we stood admiring its detail a weding party emerged, probably just in time as the bride was heavily pregnant.
The city hall dates from 1330 but has a tower from the 15th century and a Renaissance facade from the 16th century. The town hall was badly destroyed in 1945 and it took eleven years before it was rebuilt to its former glance.
While walking around Cologne, we passed by the Town Hall and the square in front of it. We did not have enough time to explore it properly, but we could see the old Jewish baths (glass enclosed below the square).
The Rathaus dates from 1330 with upgrades built in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Old Jewish Baths
When "cleaning up" after WWII the people of Cologne found an old Jewish "Mikwe" - a bath - underground at the town hall square. Under a glass pyramid you can look down these baths from 1170.
Apparently you can walk down there as well but I never found a way to do so.
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Cologne Travel Guide
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