Cologne Cathedral Market

Cologne Tourist (Christmas Market Edition)

Daniel Lanciana
12 min readNov 27, 2023

Family trip (with baby!) to visit the most renowned Christmas markets in Europe. Cologne Cathedral Market is small but has a tall tree, amazing backdrop, and live music — my second-favourite market. The Heumarkt (Old Market) is in the old square, has a vintage feel, people in top hats, blacksmiths, live violin/piano, a carousel, small Ferris wheel, ice-staking, and alpine lodge — my favourite market. Angels’ Christmas Market in Neumarkt is mid-size and has nice lights at night. Cologne Harbour Christmas Market is quirky, has pirate ship bars and a large Ferris wheel by the water. Unfortunately the gay market was closed. Markets are calm to walk through during the day, but prettier (but much busier) at night.

Drove on the autobahn (first time, fast cars), Timberjacks Köln West (a slice of Montana in Germany!), rainy weather, a brief instant of snow, ketchup udders, no working escalators, BYO mustard, watching Bayern Munich vs FC Köln at a local sports bar (packed, bouncer only German), and charged €8 for a clownce on whiskey at an American dive bar (apparently Jameson is top-shelf).

Drank glühwein (with rum = better), hot Aperol spritz and many, many Kölsch beers (coaster on top of the beer to stop refills). Ate spaetzle, krakauer sausage, pretzel, goulash soup, gingerbread, handbrot (stuffed bread), rheinischer sauerbraten (slow-cooked meat and potato dumplings), hämmche (boiled pork knuckle), and pork schnitzel (local bar).

Still need to try rievkooche* (deep-fried potato cake with apple sauce) and halve hahn* (“half rooster”, rye bread and gouda cheese, very plain, very Dutch).


The fourth-largest (1.1 million people) city in Germany, which is located on the Left Bank of the Rhine. Established in the 1st century CE as the Roman Colonia Agrippina. Colonia developed into modern German as Köln; while the French version, Cologne, become standard in English.

The capital and military headquarters of the Roman province of Germania Inferior until occupation by the Franks in 462. During the Middle Ages the city flourished along one of the most important major trade routes between east and western Europe. A free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire and one of the major members of the trade union Hanseatic League. It was one of the largest European cities in medieval and renaissance times.

Occupied by the French (1794–1815), British (1918–1926), and part of Prussia beginning in 1815. Cologne was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during World War II — destroying almost the entire millennia-old city centre.

Today the city contains numerous universities and is a major research hub for the aerospace industry — with the German Aerospace Center and the European Astronaut Centre headquarters. It also has a significant chemical and automobile industry.

The coat of arms of Cologne, first mentioned in 1114, is Europe’s oldest municipal coat of arms. The University of Cologne is one of Europe’s oldest (establishes 1388) and largest (over 50,000 students) universities. Eau de Cologne (“water from Cologne”) was created in 1709 by an Italian perfume maker and now ubiquitously known as just ‘cologne’.

With the most pubs per capita in Germany, produces the popular top-fermented Kölsch (also the name of the local dialect) Pilsener. The Köln Guild of Brewers was established in 1396. The beer style first appeared in the 1800s and in 1986 the breweries established an appellation under which only breweries in the city are allowed to use the term Kölsch — the only German beer with protected geographical status (similar to Bourbon from Kentucky or Champagne in France). Served in 200ml glasses.

In 2007, a 1,900-year-old Roman boat was discovered near the wharf area. Annual events include the Cologne carnival — one of the largest (a million people) street festivals in Europe — and Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) in several locations.


Cologne Cathedral (1248)

Officially the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Germany’s most-visited (20,000 people daily) landmark. The tallest twin-spired church in the world; second-tallest church in Europe (after Ulm Minster); largest façade of any church in the world; and third-tallest church of any kind in the world. On completion, the tallest building in the world for four years.

Construction began in 1248, halted around 1560, and was finally completed in 1880…632 years later! Build to house the Shrine of the Three Kings — commissioned by Philip von Heinsberg, archbishop of Cologne from 1167 to 1191, and traditionally believed to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men, whose relics were acquired by Frederick Barbarossa at the conquest of Milan in 1164. The shrine was opened in 1864 and was found to contain bones and garments. One of the oldest and most important pilgrimage sites of Northern Europe.

The Crucifix of Bishop Gero is the oldest (10th century) known large crucifix. Notable bells include the Dreikönigsglocke (“Bell of the Three Kings”, 3.8-tonnes) which was cast in 1418, installed in 1437, and recast in 1880; the Pretiosa (10.5 tonnes; at that time the largest bell in the Western world); the Speciosa (5.6 tonnes, installed 1448); and the “Bell of St. Peter” (1922) — the largest free-swinging bell in the world until 2017.

The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II. Badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city. Repairs of the war damage were completed in 1956 and restored in 2005.

In 1875, the largest (29.7 tonnes) free-swinging bell in history was installed (melted in 1918 to support the war effort). In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI visited along with an estimated one million pilgrims. In 2007, a new stained glass window composed of 11,500 identically sized pieces of coloured glass resembling pixels, randomly arranged by computer.

Visitors can climb 533 stone steps of the spiral staircase to a viewing platform about 100 m (330 ft) above ground.

Great St. Martin Church* (1250)

The foundations (c.960 AD) rest on remnants of a Roman chapel. The church was badly damaged in World War II; restoration work was completed in 1985.

City Hall (1330)

The Rathaus is Germany’s oldest city hall on the site of the former Ancient Roman Praetorium, which until the year 475 was seat of the Roman Governor of Germania Inferior.

The oldest part is the Saalbau (i.e. roofed hall building). The 61-meter tower was built in 1414, plays bells four times daily, and features an exterior stone figure (beneath Konrad von Hochstaden) performing autofellatio! The loggia was built in 1573.

Flora Botanical Garden* (1863)

Starting as a 5.5 hectare private park before being expanded to 11.5 hectares in 1920. Currently a municipal park and botanical garden.

Frauen-Rosenhof, an art nouveau garden, was added in 1906. In the 1950s, a glasshouse added which served as an exhibition site through the late 19th century, including horticultural exhibitions in 1875 and 1888, and an industrial exhibition in 1889. Restored in 1987.

Features an Italian Renaissance garden, Flora Temple with English gardens, heather garden, fern garden, fragrance garden, Mediterranean garden, and pond. The botanical garden cultivates nearly 10,000 types of plants. About 5,000 species are presented in four exhibition greenhouses.

Eau de Cologne (1799)

Named after its location at Glockengasse №4711. The cologne was developed in the 18th century and produced in Cologne since at least 1799 and is therefore one of the oldest still-produced fragrances in the world.

Today, original Eau de Cologne is still produced by both the Farina* family, currently in the eighth generation, and by Mäurer & Wirtz who bought the 4711 brand in 2006.

Hohenzollern Bridge* (1911)

Kaiser Wilhelm II performed the inauguration. Four equestrian statues of Prussian kings and German emperors of the Hohenzollern family flank each ramp: Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia; Kaiser Wilhelm I; Friedrich III; and Wilhelm II.

One of the most important bridges during World War II — and even consistent daily airstrikes did not badly damage it. In 1945, German military blew up the bridge as Allied troops began their assault on Cologne. Reconstruction completed in 1959.

The most heavily used railway bridge in Germany with more than 1,200 trains daily. An estimated 500,000 “love padlocks” have been placed on the bridge. It’s possible to walk over the bridge, or climb up an area of the wall (with booking).

Twelve Romanesque churches*

Twelve landmark Catholic churches: St. Andreas (974); St. Aposteln (9th century); St. Cecilia’s (9th century); St. Georg (11th century); St. Gereon (1227); St. Kunibert (1247); St. Maria im Kapitol (1065); St. Maria Lyskirchen (948); Great St. Martin (10th century); St. Pantaleon; St. Severin (4th century); and St. Ursula (5th century).

Basilica of St. Ursula is built upon the ancient ruins of a Roman cemetery, where the 11,000 virgins associated with the legend of Saint Ursula are said to have been buried inside the Golden Chamber.

Of the twelve medieval city gates that once existed, only the Eigelsteintorburg at Ebertplatz, the Hahnentor at Rudolfplatz and the Severinstorburg at Chlodwigplatz still stand today.


  • Blooming coffee roastery (excellent), Kaffeebud*, Kaffeesaurus*, Schamong Kaffee (roastery), The Coffee Gang*, Van Dyck*
Brauhaus FRÜH am Dom

Beer Halls

  • Brauhaus FRÜH am Dom (1904). The main house burned down completely in 1944. In 1969, introduced Kölsch in a bottle. Three floors with seating for 1500 people.
  • Brauhaus Sion*. Hospitality has been celebrated here since 1318. Completely destroyed during World War II and rebuilt.
  • Gaffel am Dom* (founded 1908, current location since 2008). Spread on three floors, the house can seat up to 700 guests inside and 300 outdoors.
  • Peters Brauhaus (1994, building 1907). One of the last remaining breweries in the city that still produces its own brand of Kölsch beer. With brewing tradition in Monheim, where the brewery is located, dating back to 1262 (“the beer glasses are inscribed with that year). A leading brewery in 1544; brewing stopped in 1898; in 1994, restored to a brewery.


  • Haus Scholzen (excellent food with waiting bar attached), Kebapland* (popular late-night spot).
Papa Joe’s Biersalon


  • Brauerei zur Malzmühle* (1858). “Brewery at the Malt Mill” is a traditional Kölsch brewery.
  • Craftbeer Corner Coeln*. Brewpub.
  • Johann Schäfer*. Warehouse-style brewpub.
  • Papa Joe’s Biersalon. Bar with collection of self-playing instruments and music machines, which still function via coin-operated boxes. One self-playing organ dates back to 1886.
  • Seiberts*, Toddy Tapper*. Cocktails.
Chandelier Hall


  • Rhein-Seilbahn (1957)*. Cable car over the Rhine and considered to be Cologne’s safest means of transport (no accidents).
  • Chandelier Hall* (1890). The Kronleuchtersaal is a stormwater overflow to be opened by Kaiser Wilhelm II — with two elaborate chandeliers installed for the occasion. Wilhelm didn’t show, but the chandeliers remained in place until the 1980s before being replaced by a single replica. Open to the public for tours and concerts.
  • Cologne Triangle*. The top floor and roof (103 meters) houses a publicly accessible observation deck with panorama views.
  • Odonien*. Open-air studio, workshop, venue & cultural centre for artistic and community events.
  • RheinEnergieSTADION* (1923). Home of the local Bundesliga team, FC Köln. Hosted the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2006 FIFA World Cup, and 2020 UEFA Europa League Final. Renovated in 1975 and 2004.
Farina Museum


  • EL-DE Haus (1934). Officially the NS Documentation Center of the City of Cologne, is the former headquarters of the Gestapo and now a Third Reich museum. Ironically, the building survived the Allied bombing during the war while 90% of the city was destroyed. The basements were used as prison cells and torture rooms, while the courtyard was the site of over 400 executions.
  • Farina Fragrance Museum* (1709). The oldest fragrance factory still standing.
  • Kolumba* (founded 1853, building 2007). The light-gray brick walls are made from Kolumba stones. Decorative art and religious icons from Late Antiquity to the present.
  • Lindt Chocolate Museum (1993). The most visited museum in Cologne and one of the ten most visited (650,000 annually) German museums. Founded by a Cologne chocolate manufacturer. Since 2006, partnered with Lindt & Sprüngli. Highlights include a glass cube housing cacao trees, historical chocolate vending machines, 18th and 19th-century porcelain and silver bowls and vessels, miniature manufacturing line, 3m chocolate fountain (distributes chocolate to visitors), gift shop, and Lindt cafe.
  • Museum Ludwig* (1976). Modern art museum with the third-largest (900 works) Picasso collection. Other highlights include 600 Russian avant-garde works, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. The building also houses the Kölner Philharmonie.
  • Romano-Germanic Museum* (1974). Archaeological museum with large collection of Roman artifacts from the underlying settlement — built above an original 3rd century Roman villa. Highlights include the Dionysus mosaic (230 AD). The world’s largest collection of locally produced glass from the Roman period.
  • Schnütgen Museum* (founded 1906). Christian religious art museum inside the church of St. Cäcilien (881) — one of the Twelve Romanesque churches. Highlights of the collection include a Romanesque tympanum from St Cecilia’s itself, several large wooden crucifixes, including the 11th century Cross of St George’s, as well as a large collection of early bronze ones, including the only other work generally attributed to Rainer of Huy apart from his Liège baptismal font.
  • Wallraf–Richartz Museum* (1861, building 2001). Fine art from the medieval period to the early twentieth century. Highlights include Madonna of the Rose Bower (1450); Great Saint Martin Church altarpiece (1515); Adoration of the Child (1568, Hieronymus Bosch); Juno and Argus (1610, Rubens); Holy Family (1634, Rubens), Langlois Bridge at Arles (1888, Van Gogh); a Rembrandt self-portrait; and five authentic Monet works (in 2008, On the Banks of the Seine by Port Villez was declared a forgery).
Helios Lighthouse


  • Belgium Quarter*. Belgisches Viertel is a cool area with streets named after Belgian cities and provinces feature vintage clothing, book, and record stores.
  • Colonius* (1981). Telecommunications tower and tallest (266m) city building. visitor’s area including restaurant and viewing platform has been closed since 1992.
  • Ehrenfeld Group Memorial. Plaque and memorial mural commemorating the youth group known as the Edelweiss Pirates — a subculture group that emerged in the 1930s against the Nazi regime. In 1944, after the pirates assassinated a Nazi informant and their plan to blow up the headquarters of the Gestapo in Cologne was discovered, Himmler issued orders to infiltrate the group and arrest its ringleaders. Many pirates were tortured or sent to concentration camps. Thirteen ringleaders were publicly executed — hanged under the Ehrenfeld railway bridge.
  • Helios Lighthouse (1895). 44-meter lighthouse 250 kilometers from the ocean that never served as a navigation marker. It was built between 1894 and 1895, replacing a smaller version on the same site. Test lighthouse for German electrical company, Helios — the ancient Greek Sun God — which closed in 1930. The light was turned on in 1986, renovated in 1996, and currently an art exhibition space and radio tower.


  • Dufthaus 4711 (Glockengasse 4). Flagship store of the “Original Eau de Cologne” with museum upstairs. The depiction of a French military officer painting the house number 4711 on the facade of the house is a product of advertising. 4711 features in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (tattooed on Frank’s upper thigh) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (novel). Due to the cologne’s usage as am illegal alcohol, 4711 was the original telephone number of the Finnish Poison Information Centre.
  • Mustard Museum (1810). Museum housed in a historic mill in which it organises guided tour so visitors can learn about the history of the mustard-making processes.
  • Schildergasse. Named the busiest shopping street in Europe with 13,000 people passing through every hour.