The old town

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As a local, there's a tendency to dismiss the old town as "not really authentic", " too touristy", "too quaint". There are so many clichés, but there's no denying the appeal of this area, which is home to the major monuments of Cologne.

Is the old town actually "old"?

Mostly destroyed by bombing in the Second World War, the old town has little left of its original buildings. Nearly all of the "old" structures are actually reconstructions. With just one exception, the ancient Roman port of Cologne which was its economic centre in the Middle Ages, remains an important gateway into the history of the city. The colourful houses along the Rhine, the churches, (such as the church of St Martin), the Roman ruins (which you can view if you take the fascinating underground tour at the Roman-Germanic Museum), the City Hall, the Farina House, museums, and of course, the Cathedral … All of these monuments invite visitors to discover the different periods in the history of the city which has now become a hub for services.

Plenty of quaintness

The old town projects a casual, rustic charm. Although many of the restaurants and bars are nothing out of the ordinary, there are also some excellent authentic pubs where even the natives can be found. For example, the Peters Brauhaus. The old town is also synonymous with countless legends and stories. If you visit the area with a well-informed guide, be sure to ask about the story of Tünnes and Schäl, the local marionettes immortalised in bronze there. The explanation of the figures on the facades of the Alter Markt will give you a taste of Cologne-style humour.

Vieille ville de Cologne