Brief history

Roman Cologne - capital of Germania inferior

Cologne looks back on a settlement history of more than 2000 years. The Roman proconsul Agrigga settled the Germanic tribe of the Ubier – allies of the Roman Empire – on the left-hand side of the Rhine, on the territory of what would become the city of Cologne. The oppidum Ubiorum arose here and developed into an influential Roman settlement. In 50 AD the settlement was elevated to Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (CCAA). In the mid-80s of the 1st century AD the province of Germania Inferior was set up with the CCAA as capital city and gradually extended. The city flourished economically and power-politically in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The city wall and the proconsul’s palace are testimonies to this phase. At the end of the 4th, beginning of the 5th century AD, Roman rule came to an end. However, this did not mean the breakdown of power and economy for the city. The Frankish kings continued to reside in the former praetorium, also known as Regia.

Medieval Cologne: archdiocese and largest German city

Cologne flourished again during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as a river port for the barges which plied between Holland and Southern Germany. For a long time, it was the largest city in the German Empire and, as the seat of the Archbishop, remains the metropolitan centre of the German Catholic church to this day. Numerous churches and the famous Cologne Cathedral are testimonies to this era. However since the Medieval period continuos tensions between the citizens and the archbishop arose, forcing him for a long time to take seat in Bonn; the citizens would not let him stay for more than three days a year in his capital, to say Mass in the cathedral on great festivals. Up until World War II the city had undergone several occupations by Napoleon, the Prussians and also by the British (1918-1926). It was under the Prussian occupation when the famous Cologne carneval started as a kind of satiric resistance.

The modern Rhine panorama ((Copyright: Tobias Krause / KölnTourismus GmbH)

Cologne was one of the most heavily-bombed cities in Germany during World War II, when most of the city center was destroyed. With the intention of restoring as many historic buildings as possible, the successful postwar rebuilding has resulted in a very mixed and unique cityscape. Visiting the Old Town of Cologne is a must. Together with Cologne Cathedral, the Romanesque church of Great St. Martin and the tower of the historic City Hall, it makes up the remarkable Rhine panorama. As you stroll through the narrow alleys and squares, you will come across many historical remains, such as the Archaeological Zone, the Old St. Alban Memorial and the Stapelhaus.

Cologne's famous Carneval

As the centre of Cologne’s old neighbourhood of handicrafts and trade, Alter Markt and Heumarkt are major attractions for Cologne residents and visitors. Surrounded by many small restaurants and cafés, this area is an inviting place in which to relax in the sun during every season of the year. Cologne is also famous for its beer tradition and numerous breweries.

Today Cologne is the major cultural centre for the Rhineland; it hosts more than thirty museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local ancient Roman archeological sites to contemporary graphics and sculpture. The Cologne Trade Fair is amongst the most important European trade fair locations hosting frequently international trade shows such as Art Cologne, imm Cologne, Gamescom, and the Photokina.

Public transport

Cologne and Bonn are included within the Rhein-Sieg transportation alliance (VRS). This means that standardized tickets and prices (VRS tariff), harmonized timetables, and jointly provided information and services by transportation companies within the VRS apply in both cities.

KVB (Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe)
Within Cologne, you can use two types of tickets on means of transport provided by the Cologne transportation operations (KVB):

Short haul ticket 1a (Kurzstreckenticket): Valid including the station you board from plus up to four stops. Valid independently of city and municipality limits. Not valid on local trains (S-Bahn), RegionalBahn and RegionalExpress trains. Not valid on certain express bus lines and subsections of lines. Price €1.90

Tariff level 1b (CityTicket): Valid for journeys within Cologne from six stations onwards (including boarding). Price €2.80

To travel to Bonn, choose the following ticket:

Tariff level 4 (RegioTicket): Valid for journeys through a larger number of cities and municipalities. Valid among others for Cologne to Bonn. Price €7.70

Further ticket and tariff information

(Copyright: Udo Haake / KölnTourismus GmbH)