Guided City Tour of Cologne for ERASMUS students
Here you can find sound files, texts and tasks for your little guided tour in the heart of Cologne. Welcome and enjoy your time.
You can find the location or listen to our little audio-guide if you
click on these symbols.
1. Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in the Gothic architectural style. Its construction was begun in 1248 and was not completed until 1880. Some art historians have called the cathedral a "perfect cathedral" because of its uniform and balanced architectural form. Originally planned as a representative cathedral for the archbishops of Cologne and a monumental reliquary for the bones of the Magi, the cathedral was considered a national symbol for Germany when it was completed in the 19th century. After the end of World War II, the seemingly intact cathedral in the midst of the bombed-out city was understood as a "miracle" and became an emotional symbol of the will to live. The cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 and is one of the most visited sights in Germany.
Task: Take a picture of your group in front of the cathedral.
2. Hohenzollern Bridge
The Hohenzollern Bridge was built from 1907 to 1911. It replaced the Dombrücke, which could no longer cope with the demands of steadily increasing rail traffic. What was special about the construction of the new bridge was that it was built while the cathedral bridge was still in operation and gradually replaced it. When completed, it consisted of three side-by-side truss arch bridges, each with three arches.
At that time, one section was reserved for streetcar and streetcar traffic, as was the case with the Dombrücke, while the other two sections could accommodate four tracks. In addition, there were sidewalks and bicycle paths on both sides.
The Hohenzollern Bridge is the only bridge in Cologne that was not destroyed by bombs. Rather, on March 6, 1945, the Wehrmacht took it upon itself to make it difficult for the approaching Allies to cross the Rhine by blowing up the bridge. After the war, initially one of the railroad bridges was rebuilt until 1948. The road bridge was not restored for traffic reasons. In each of the years 1956 to 1959 and from 1986 to 1987, another truss arch was added, so that today the railroad has six tracks on the Hohenzollern Bridge.
Together with the neighboring main station, the Hohenzollern Bridge represents one of the most important junctions in the German and European railroad network and is an impressive structure that is an outstanding part of Cologne's cityscape. It was listed as a historical monument on August 5, 1997.
Question: What is hanging from the railing along the bridge?
Cologne's location on the Rhine has many advantages - but also a disadvantage: floods regularly threaten the city. Especially in spring, when the snow in the Alps and on the tributaries melts, the masses of water roll toward Cologne.
The floods of the century in 1926, 1993 and 1995 exceeded the ten-meter mark. The normal water level of the Rhine near Cologne is 3.21 meters. The water level gauge shows the current level of the Rhine.
Question: What is the level of the Rhine today?
Question: What is the level of the Rhine today?
Stone grimaces with centimeter-long tusks adorn numerous house walls in Cologne's old town. Various legends circulate about the origin of the alleged masks of shame -.
Anyone strolling through Cologne's old town will sooner or later be surprised by them: stone grimaces with furrowed foreheads and creepy facial expressions emblazoned on the walls of houses. They lack eyes and lower jaws; instead, walrus-like tusks up to twelve centimeters long grow out of these faces. We are talking about the so-called grin heads, sometimes also referred to as Anno heads.
Archbishop Anno, according to the most common grin head legend, once helped a lonely old widow out of a jam. The latter had advanced a merchant a pile of money, which he later refused to remember. He bribed the aldermen, to whom the woman turned in search of help, with a portion of that salary. Anno, however, uncovered the swindle. The culprits were blinded and those grimace masks were placed on their houses.
Version 2, on the other hand, builds on Anno's famous transgression of 1074. At that time, the archbishop had a merchant ship seized in order to let his friend, the archbishop of Mainz Siegfried, travel home on it. An uprising broke out, Anno had to flee the city, but soon returned with heavy troop units. He quickly regained power, so the story ends like version 1: with the ringleaders blinded and their houses masked in shame.
Version 3: If you look closely, you will notice that the tusks tapered downward like a V. Between the teeth was a rod that reached from the floor to a hole in the wall under the mask. With the help of a rope, a simple pulley could be made over which goods could be pulled. So, originally, under the grin heads there were holes covered with wooden planks, which led down to cellar warehouses.
Question: Which version is correct? Ask 5 people for the answer? Or: What is the Kallendresser at Altermarkt and what part of the body can be seen?
The fish market in Cologne's old town is a place that still gives a certain impression of the "old days". Narrow, once stuffy streets such as Buttermarkt, Lintgasse and Mauthgasse flow here into an open, airy area.
Nowadays, there is also the wide view of the Rhine, which was blocked until the end of the 19th century by the city wall running along the bank here. Until around 1100, the fish market was part of the Groß St. Martin monastery.
The flourishing trade at that time caused rising real estate and land prices, which the church took advantage of by releasing part of its land for development. Because the fish trade was mainly supplied by ship from Holland, the central Cologne transshipment point for all kinds of sea creatures was subsequently established here.
Like all of Cologne's trades, the fish trade profited immensely from the stacking right granted in 1259: all goods transported on the Rhine had to be unloaded in Cologne and put up for sale for three days. For centuries, the stalls were dominated by the "Feschwievern", the fishwives. In their memory, a fountain now adorns the small square.
Task: Take a picture in front of the fountain.
According to legend, the Heinzelmännchen were Cologne house spirits. They did the work of the citizens at night when they were asleep. However, once they were observed doing so, they disappeared forever. In addition to their small size, typical attributes such as the pointed cap and their diligence show that the Heinzelmännchen belong to the group of goblins, pixies and dwarves.
Task: Count how many Heinzelmännchen can be found on the fountain?
7. Musical Dome
The Musical Dome is located between Breslauer Platz and the banks of the Rhine near Cologne Central Station. Characteristic of the Musical Dome is the blue dome-shaped roof, which is illuminated at night. The structure is 53 m wide and 77 m long. Its height is 27 m at the highest point. The Musical Dome was opened in October 1996 after a construction period of six months. Until then, the property had long been used as a bus station and car park. It was built as a temporary solution; at that time it was planned to permanently reorganize Breslauer Platz in terms of urban planning. Until construction work began, the Musical Dome was to serve as a temporary venue for the musical Gaudi by Eric Woolfson in a production by Elmar Ottenthal.
Task: Which musical is played there at the moment?
8. St Martin
St. Martin is one of the twelve large Romanesque churches in Cologne. It is in the old town and is closely surrounded by residential and commercial buildings from the 1970s and 1980s. Until the secularization of 1802, the church was the abbey church of the Benedictine abbey of the same name. The three-aisled basilica with its cloverleaf-shaped east choir and the square crossing tower with four corner turrets is one of the most striking landmarks in the city panorama on the left bank of the Rhine.
Task: St Martin is considered Romanesque. What is typical for romanesque churches in comparison to gothic(al) ones? Name three features you can observe when you have a close look at St. Martin.
9. "Rathaus" - Town Hall
The town hall consists of two parts: On the one hand, the historic town hall, in which work for the city began in 1569 and whose tower is adorned with well-deserving Cologne residents and patron saints. On the other hand, the Spanish building directly opposite, in which today's council chamber is housed. It was only given the name Spanish building in the middle of the 19th century, since the Spanish League, the Catholic military alliance in the Thirty Years' War, had assembled here around 200 years earlier. Later courts and offices of the city administration were located in the building.
Task: Take a picture in front of both sides of the Town Hall.
The finials of Cologne Cathedral form the tops of the two towers (north and south tower) at a height of 149 to 157 meters. A copy of these finials in the original size, but executed in concrete, has been standing below the steps in front of the west facade of the cathedral since 1991.
Task: Take pictures of street art often drawn / created near the Kreuzblume.
11. Tünnes & Schäl
Tünnes and Schäl are two legendary characters from the Hänneschen puppet theater in Cologne. The name Tünnes is the Rhenish form of Antonius. Tünnes is portrayed as a bulbous, rustic type with a peaceful disposition and a certain peasant shrewdness.
On the one hand, Schäl refers to the squinting of the protagonist. On the other hand, the expression also means bad or wrong in the Cologne dialect, so that the name is intentionally ambiguous, see also Schäl Sick. The figure is slimmer than Tünnes and always wears a tailcoat. His character is portrayed as sly, cunning and even devious.
Task: Take a funny and creative picture of your group with Tünnes ans Schäl.