West Germany: A Weekend in Bonn and Cologne

West Germany is great for enjoying both urban life and nature. Bonn, the former West German capital, is a small town with lots of parks and hip pedestrian streets. Cologne, one of Germany’s largest cities and a host to carnival, has a cosmopolitan population that enjoys both tradition and modernity.

50679 Cologne, Germany
My wife and I just returned from our annual trip to Europe to visit Christmas Markets. Our first stop was Cologne, Germany. In researching Cologne several months ago I read about the Hohenzollern Railway Bridge, which crosses the Rhine into central Cologne. The bridge has gained a new romantic image, since couples began placing locks on the fence separating the railroad and the pedestrian walkway over the Rhine. I’ve seen several bridges around the world where this is done, including Spain, Estonia, Paris, and even the Great Wall of China, but nowhere in the volume of the Hohenzollernbrucke. Since our stay in Cologne was on our 45th Wedding Anniversary, I thought I would surprise my wife with this addition to our itinerary. She was both surprised and eager to take part in the tradition. So, we found a lockshop, picked out a lock and had it engraved with our names and “45 Years”. We walked to the bridge, and were absoluted stunned at the number of locks of every sort, size and shape. The number has to be in the tens of thousands. A definite testament to love. We even had a difficult time finding a recognizable place for the lock. Finally, we completed the tradition by locking it, and tossing one of the two keys into the Rhine. If you are going to Cologne, don’t miss seeing this.
Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
One of the most famous sights in Germany, the Cologne Cathedral (known locally as the Kölner Dom) lives up to the hype. Its Gothic exterior, and especially its soaring twin spires, can be seen from all over the city, and its immense interior—measuring a whopping 66,370 square feet—brims with religious and cultural treasures. While its first stone was laid in 1248, the cathedral wasn’t finished until 1880. Today, its highlights include the Altar of the Patron Saints of Cologne by Stefan Lochner, the carved oak choir stalls, and the stained glass windows, which range from 13th-century examples to a more recent (and striking) addition by contemporary artist Gerhard Richter. The real treasure, however, is the Shrine of the Three Kings—an impressive work of medieval gold craftsmanship that’s bigger and grander than any other in Europe. Take it all in, then climb the 533 steps to the viewing platform on the south tower for a look over the city and, on a clear day, out to the Siebengebirge. Also be sure to visit the treasury, which holds artworks made from gold, silver, bronze, and ivory, as well as holy relics and sculptures from the Middle Ages.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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