Koeln Travel Guide

Culture

Cologne has several museums. The famous Roman-Germanic Museum features art and architecture from the city's distant past; the Museum Ludwig houses one of the most important collections of modern art in Europe, including a Picasso collection matched only by the museums in Barcelona and Paris. The Museum Schnütgen of religious art is partly housed in St. Cecilia, one of Cologne's Twelve Romanesque churches.

Several orchestras are active in the city, among them the Gürzenich Orchestra and the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, both based at the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra Building. Other orchestras are the Musica Antiqua Köln and the WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln, as well as the Cologne Opera and several choirs, including the WDR Rundfunkchor Köln. Cologne was also an important center of electronic music in the 1950s (Studio für elektronische Musik, Karlheinz Stockhausen) and again from the 1990s onward. The public radio and TV station WDR was involved in promoting musical movements such as Krautrock in the 1970s; the influential Can was formed there in 1968. There are several centers of nightlife, among them the Kwartier Latäng (the student quarter around the Zülpicher Straße) and the nightclub-studded areas around Hohenzollernring, Friesenplatz and Rudolfplatz.

The large annual literary festival Lit.Cologne features regional and international authors. The main literary figure connected with Cologne is writer Heinrich Böll, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Cologne is well known for its beer, called Kölsch. Kölsch is also the name of the local dialect. This has led to the common joke of Kölsch being the only language one can drink.

Cologne is also famous for Eau de Cologne (German: Kölnisch Wasser; lit: "Water of Cologne"), a perfume created by Italian expatriate Johann Maria Farina at the beginning of the 18th century. During the 18th century this perfume became increasingly popular, was exported all over Europe by the Farina family and Farina became a household name for Eau de Cologne. In 1803 Wilhelm Mülhens entered into a contract with an unrelated person from Italy named Carlo Francesco Farina who granted him the right to use his family name and Mühlens opened a small factory at Cologne's Glockengasse. In later years and after various court battles his grandson Ferdinand Mülhens had to abandon the name Farina for the company and their product. He decided to use the house number given to the factory at Glockengasse during French occupation in the early 19th century, 4711. Today, original Eau de Cologne is still produced in Cologne by both the Farina family, currently in the eighth generation, and by Mäurer & Wirtz who bought the 4711 brand in 2006.

Carnival

The Cologne carnival is one of the largest street festivals in Europe. In Cologne, the carnival season officially starts on 11 November at 11 minutes past 11 a.m. with the proclamation of the new Carnival Season, and continues until Ash Wednesday. However, the so-called "Tolle Tage" (crazy days) don't start until Weiberfastnacht (Women's Carnival) or, in dialect, Wieverfastelovend, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the street carnival. Zülpicher Strasse and its surroundings, Neumarkt square, Heumarkt and all bars and pubs in the city are crowded with people in costumes dancing and drinking in the streets. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Cologne during this time. Generally, around a million people celebrate in the streets on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.

Rivalry with Düsseldorf

Cologne and Düsseldorf have a "fierce regional rivalry", which includes carnival parades, football, and beer. People in Cologne prefer Kölsch while people in Düsseldorf prefer Alt. Waiters and patrons will "scorn" and make a "mockery" of people who order Alt beer in Cologne and Kölsch in Düsseldorf. The rivalry has been described as a "love–hate relationship".

Museums
Römisch-Germanisches Museum (Roman-Germanic Museum) – ancient Roman and Germanic culture
Wallraf-Richartz Museum – European painting from the 13th to the early 20th century
Museum Ludwig – modern art
Museum Schnütgen – medieval art
Kolumba Kunstmuseum des Erzbistums Köln (art museum of the Archbishopric of Cologne) – modern art museum built around medieval ruins, completed 2007
Cathedral Treasury "Domschatzkammer" – historic underground vaults of the Cathedral
EL-DE Haus, – former local headquarters of the Gestapo houses a museum documenting Nazi rule in Cologne with a special focus on the persecution of political dissenters and minorities
German Sports and Olympic Museum – exhibitions about sports from antiquity until the present
Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum – Chocolate Museum
Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art – collections of Internet-based art, corporate part of (NewMediaArtProjectNetwork):cologne, the experimental platform for art and New Media
Flora und Botanischer Garten Köln, the city's formal park and main botanical garden
Music fairs and festivals

The city was home to the internationally famous Ringfest, and now to the C/o pop festival.

In addition, Cologne is enjoying a thriving Christmas Market Weihnachtsmarkt presence with several locations in the city.

source: Wikipedia

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