Cologne, Germany, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back over 2,000 years and it’s one of nicko cruises most popular embarkation ports due to it’s easy access and the variety of river cruises we have sailing from Cologne.

The History Of Cologne

1st Century BCE to 5th Century CE: The area where Cologne is located was originally inhabited by the Ubii, a Germanic tribe. In the 1st century BCE, the Romans established the settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (shortened to Colonia) as a military outpost. It grew into a major Roman city and served as the capital of the province of Germania Inferior. During this time, Cologne became an important centre of trade and commerce.

5th Century to 9th Century: The fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century led to the decline of Cologne. The city was occupied by various Germanic tribes and underwent periods of instability. In the 8th century, Charlemagne, the King of the Franks and later Holy Roman Emperor, promoted the Christianisation of the region, and Cologne became an archbishopric.

10th Century to 18th Century: Cologne experienced a period of growth and prosperity during the Middle Ages. It became a leading member of the Hanseatic League, a powerful trading alliance. The city developed into a major centre for trade, banking, and craftsmanship, particularly in the textile industry. The construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in the 13th century, and it would become one of the most iconic landmarks of the city.

19th Century: In the early 19th century, Cologne was occupied by French troops during the Napoleonic Wars. After Napoleon’s defeat, the city became part of the Prussian Kingdom in 1815. Industrialisation brought further growth and development, transforming Cologne into a major industrial centre. The city’s population expanded rapidly, and its infrastructure improved with the construction of railways and bridges.

20th Century: Cologne suffered heavy damage during World War II due to extensive bombing raids. However, efforts were made to rebuild the city after the war, and many historic buildings were restored. Cologne became a cultural hub and a centre for media and broadcasting. The city also hosted several international trade fairs and exhibitions.

Present Day: Cologne is now one of Germany’s largest cities and remains a vibrant cultural and economic centre. It is known for its rich architectural heritage, including the Cologne Cathedral, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The city attracts tourists with its museums, galleries, and festivals, such as the annual Cologne Carnival. Additionally, Cologne is a major transportation hub and has a diverse and cosmopolitan population.

Overall, Cologne’s history showcases its evolution from a Roman outpost to a medieval trading powerhouse and a modern metropolis with a blend of old-world charm and contemporary vibrancy.

Cologne – Things To See And Do

Cologne offers a variety of attractions and sights to explore. Here are some notable things to see in Cologne:

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom): This magnificent Gothic cathedral is the most iconic landmark of the city. It took over six centuries to complete and is renowned for its stunning architecture and intricate details. Visitors can climb the tower for panoramic views of the city.

Old Town (Altstadt): The historic Old Town of Cologne is a charming area with narrow streets, colourful buildings, and lively squares. It is home to numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants. Don’t miss the picturesque Fish Market (Fischmarkt) and the bustling Alter Markt square.

Museum Ludwig: Located near the cathedral, the Museum Ludwig is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. It houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by renowned artists such as Picasso, Warhol, and Lichtenstein. There’s also the Ludwig Museum in the Russian House. This museum focuses on Russian art and cultural history. It showcases an extensive collection of Russian icons, paintings, sculptures, and textiles.

Rhine River Promenade: Take a leisurely stroll along the Rhine River Promenade and enjoy the scenic views. The promenade is lined with cafes, bars, and parks, making it a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.

Hohenzollern Bridge: This bridge spans the Rhine River and is known for its love locks. Couples attach padlocks to the bridge’s railings as a symbol of their love. It offers great views of the river and the cathedral.

Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum): Cologne is famous for its chocolate, and the Chocolate Museum is a delightful attraction for chocolate lovers. Learn about the history of chocolate, see the production process, and indulge in some delicious samples.

Fragrance Museum (Duftmuseum im Farina-Haus): Cologne is also renowned for its eau de Cologne fragrance. Visit the Fragrance Museum to learn about the history of this perfume and explore the former residence of Johann Maria Farina, the creator of the original Eau de Cologne.

Botanical Garden Flora: The Flora is a beautiful botanical garden where you can enjoy a peaceful escape from the city. It features an impressive variety of plant species, picturesque landscapes, and even a small Japanese garden.

Rheinpark: Located on the right bank of the Rhine River, Rheinpark is a vast green space offering recreational opportunities. It has walking paths, playgrounds, and picnic areas, as well as stunning views of the river and the city skyline.

These are just a few of the many attractions Cologne has to offer.

Kolsch Beer

Kölsch beer is a famous beer style that originates from the city of Cologne, Germany. It is a pale, top-fermented beer that is known for its light and crisp character. Here are some key aspects of Kölsch beer:

Brewing Tradition: Kölsch beer has a long brewing tradition in Cologne, dating back to the early 20th century. It is protected by the Kölsch Convention, which ensures that only breweries within the Cologne city limits can produce and market beer as “Kölsch.”

Appearance and Flavour: Kölsch beer typically has a pale straw to golden color, with a clear appearance. It has a mild, clean, and balanced flavor profile, with subtle hop bitterness and a delicate malt backbone. The beer is known for its refreshing and easy-drinking qualities.

Serving Style: Traditionally, Kölsch beer is served in small, cylindrical glasses known as “Stangen.” These glasses are relatively tall and narrow, holding around 200 millilitres of beer. The smaller size allows for frequent refills, ensuring that the beer remains fresh and cold.

Serving Ritual: Kölsch beer is often served by “Köbes,” the traditional waiters or servers in Cologne’s breweries. They carry multiple glasses on a circular tray called a “Kranz” and mark the number of beers consumed by tallying the number of beer mats on the table.

Brewery Culture: Cologne is home to numerous breweries that produce Kölsch beer. Some of the well-known breweries include Früh, Gaffel, Reissdorf, and Sünner, among others. Each brewery has its own unique recipe and brewing process, resulting in subtle variations in flavour.

Cultural Significance: Kölsch beer is not just a beverage but also an integral part of Cologne’s cultural identity. It is deeply ingrained in the local customs and traditions. The beer is often enjoyed during social gatherings, festivals, and the city’s famous carnival celebrations.

Kölsch Beer Festivals: Cologne hosts several beer festivals throughout the year, where visitors can experience the city’s beer culture first-hand. The most notable festival is the “Cologne Carnival” or “Kölsch Carnival,” which takes place in November and features parades, costumes, music, and, of course, plenty of Kölsch beer.

When visiting Cologne, trying a glass of Kölsch beer is a must-do experience. It offers a taste of the local brewing heritage and provides a refreshing and enjoyable way to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant beer culture.


Sailings Featuring Cologne

x icon