The city of Cologne is close to 2000 years old, and today it is the fourth largest city in Germany, with the Rhine River splitting it in half. Its history starts on the west side of the river when the area became a province of Germania, on the Roman boarder.

A brief history of the city:

The remains of the original Roman colony can be found near Cologne's city center (measuring a distance of around one square kilometer, although the graveyards are found outside the city boarders). The stone used throughout the Roman parts of the city were imported from the 7 mountains near Bonn, were imported by using ships along the Rhine River, and were cut once they arrived in Cologne. In the 1960s, one of the surviving walls from the northwest corner of the Roman city was found, as was one of the watch towers. The discovered walls can be measured up to 3 meters thick and wide and measure up to 7-8 meters high.

Eventually, it changed from a small village to a city, and was given the name “Colonia,” or “Colony.” The Romans remained in this part of Europe until the 5th century. The map you see below is a more modern visual of how the streets are laid out, but before when it was a Roman province, the streets were placed in a strategic grid pattern. As time wore on, buildings were torn down and rebuilt on top of the original foundation, such as the north side of the cathedral, eventually getting to what you see to the right.

Cologne Cathedral

Bear with me, I'm an architecture nut, and I would be ashamed to not include the cool history of this building. If you're interested, click the drop-down arrow. If not, keep scrolling.

*Some of these photographs are from the roof. Not sure if the common man can have access; I was a part of a architectural design class and we were permitted up top.

The very first church situated in the place of the Cologne Cathedral was finished near the end of the 9th century (800 AD). This structure looked completely different than what we see today, and included only the nave, the transept, and the choir. A few hundred years later, the relics of the Magi were brought to Cologne and the cathedral then became an important destination for those who pilgrimage through Europe. Cologne cathedral, now holding a new air of importance, needed a new face to match the significant relics it held inside, so a new Gothic cathedral began construction in 1248 as soon as the old one had been completely torn down. The workers hoped to quickly tar down the coir through a controlled fire, however, the whole building burned to the ground. In 1322, the construction of the new choir had finished, complete with buttresses (and flying buttresses) to hold up the heavy walls. After the choir had been finished, the workers began on the nave’s two aisles and the southern tower, but in 1530, construction came to a halt when the funding for the structure ran out. For 300 years, the cathedral remained unfinished, and its structure served many uses other than a church. It wasn’t until 1801 that the cathedral was declared a church again.

By the mid-1800s, money became available for the cathedral to be completed and by 1880 both the construction on the transepts and the towers finished. During World War II, the cathedral suffered damage from several aerial bombs, and reconstruction began using modern construction techniques. Today, the cathedral is still an ongoing construction site, fixing and restoring any damage.


A museum of art that is located on the site of the former St. Columba church. The building itself looks modern, but has pieces of the original Romanesque church that remained after WWII. Inside, a chapel shares the space with the ruins of a Gothic church.

St. Maria im Kapitol


Most of the city is accessible via bus, train (called the bahn), or walking. Trains also run from city to city. Stops for buses and trains will have a round yellow sign with a green H inside it (Haltestelle). Bus and bahn tickets can be purchased here: SWB Bus and Bahn.


The trains can be categorized in two ways: the S-Bahn/tram: “Stadtschnellbahn” (city rapid rail), and the U-Bahn: Untergrundbahn (underground train). Bonn only has S-Bahns, although some run underground for a bit.

Be sure to validating your ticket before you begin using your ticket, or you will be fined! There will be a validation booth called a Entwerter.


Buses- always enter using the front door and exit at the rear door.

You can purchase a bus ticket from the bus driver or before your trip. Make sure your ticket is validated (stamped) before you board or right after you board (there will be a small machine on the bus).

If you need a more in-depth explanation, I have found a website called The German Way to be very helpful!

Accommodations & Lodging

I only stayed here for one day before returning home to my host family, so I do not have any recommendations.