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Top 10 Famous Buildings in Cologne

The 4th-largest city in Germany is home to some of the country’s most fascinating landmarks, including a magnificent cathedral that took 632 years to complete.

Cologne is a large city in the southern part of the Ruhr, the largest urban area in Germany. This densely populated region is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in the western part of the country.

The city has a history of about 2,000 years when it was established as a Roman colony called “Colonia Agrippina.” This is how the city got its modern-day name.

It became the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior and continued to flourish as an important trading hub throughout the Middle Ages.

Unfortunately, many buildings were destroyed during World War II because Cologne was one of the heaviest-bombed cities in Germany during this tragic event.

The upside is that Cologne’s architecture features a unique mix of historic and modern structures. This in combination with the popular Christmas market makes it a popular tourist destination.

So what are some of the most famous buildings in Cologne? In this article, you’ll find out!

1. Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral is officially known as the “Cathedral Church of Saint Peter” and is a huge Gothic cathedral in the heart of the city. It’s not just one of the most famous buildings in Cologne but also in all of Germany because this incredible landmark attracts on average over 20,000 visitors a day.

The cathedral stands 157 meters (515 feet) tall which means it has the tallest twin spires in the world. The first stone of the church was laid in 1248 but was halted for an extended period of time in 1560. It was finally completed in 1880, about 632 years after its construction had started.

Famous buildings in Cologne cathedral
Cologne cathedral / Falco Ermert / Wiki Commons

2. Roman Tower (Römerturm)

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The Roman Tower or “Römerturm” is an ancient structure and one of the few of its kind that has been preserved in central Cologne. It’s located just west of Cologne Cathedral and is aligned with other ancient landmarks such as the “Römerbrunnen” and the “Romans’ Northern Gate.”

As you surely expected, this ancient fortification was once part of the fortified walls of the ancient Roman city “Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium.” What’s remarkable about this landmark in Cologne is that it still featured the ancient mosaics that were added to decorate it almost 2,000 years ago.

Roman Tower in Cologne
Roman Tower in Cologne / VollwertBIT / Wiki Commons

3. Kranhäuser

The Kranhäuser is a complex of 3 amazing buildings in Cologne that are located along the banks of the Rhine River just south of the city’s historical heart. These structures are part of the Rheinauhafen project, a large urban redevelopment project that covers an area of about 15.4 hectares (38 acres).

these buildings have the shape of an upside-down “L” which makes them resemble the harbor cranes that once stood here. These buildings were completed in the first decade of the 21st century and stand 62 meters (203 feet) tall. They have become some of the most iconic landmarks in Cologne ever since.

Kranhauser in Cologne
Kränhauser / Uwe Aranas / Wiki Commons

4. Great St. Martin Church

The Great St. Martin Church is one of the 12 Romanesque churches of Cologne and one of the most amazing Romanesque buildings in the city. It’s located just southeast of the main cathedral and is located just one block east of the Old Market, a historic market square.

The construction of this church was started in the 960s and its foundations were built on top of the remains of an ancient Roman chapel. The amazing square tower is a distinctive landmark in Cologne’s Old Town and was constructed between 1150 and 1250.

Great St. Martin Church
Great St. Martin Church / Raimond Spekking / Wiki Commons

5. Hohenzollern Bridge

Hohenzollern Bridge is the most famous bridge in Cologne and there are several reasons for this. Not only is the bridge that provides the most iconic views of Cologne Cathedral, but this rail and pedestrian bridge is also home to thousands of padlocks that symbolize love.

The original bridge was constructed between 1907 and 1911 but the German troops blew it up as Allied forces advanced on Cologne at the end of World War II. Today, over 1,200 trains cross the bridge every day making it the busiest railway bridge in Germany.

The bridge was named after the German and Prussian emperors and kings of the Hohenzollern family who are featured in equestrian statues on all corners.

Hohenzollern Bridge Cologne
Hohenzollern Bridge / Thomas Depenbusch / Wiki Commons

6. Cologne City Hall

Cologne City Hall is a historic building in the Old Town of Cologne and is located in the southwestern corner of the Old Market. This fascinating city hall building houses a number of government offices and also serves as the main office of the Mayor of the city.

It’s the oldest city hall in Germany with a recorded history of over 900 years. The complex features a wide range of architectural styles, including a pretty standard 14th-century historic structure, a Gothic-style tower, and a Renaissance-style loggia. The atrium of the building features a 20th-century modern design.

Cologne City Hall
Cologne City Hall / VollwertBIT / Wiki Commons

7. St. Gereon’s Basilica

St. Gereon’s Basilica is another of the 12 Romanesque churches that were constructed in Cologne during the Middle Ages. The church was dedicated to a Christian martyr from Cologne named Saint Gereon who was beheaded during the final persecution of Christians by the Romans in the early 4th century.

Most parts of the building were constructed between 1151 and 1227 and the church has some remarkable features. The most remarkable is the decagonal oval dome that has dimensions of 21 x 16.9 meters (68.89 x 55.44 feet).

It was the largest dome constructed between the 6th century (Hagia Sophia) and the Dome of Florence Cathedral in the 15th century.

St. Gereons Basilica
St. Gereon’s Basilica / Raimond Spekking / Wiki Commons

8. KölnTriangle

KölnTriangle is the name of an impressive skyscraper in Cologne. It’s located in the Deutz district which covers a large area across the historical heart of the city on the eastern bank of the Rhine River. It’s by far the most prominent landmark in this part of the city.

The tower stands 103.2 meters (339 feet) which only barely classifies it as a skyscraper. Because of its location, it provides the best views of the city center from across the Rhine River.

The building houses the headquarters of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the upper floor can be visited as it’s home to a popular observation platform.

KölnTriangle / Falco Ermert / Wiki Commons

9. Cologne Tower

The Cologne Tower is arguably the most beautiful skyscraper in the city. It was designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel who worked together with local architectural firm Kohl and Kohl to produce one of the most amazing modernist skyscrapers in Europe.

The tower is the most prominent feature of another urban redevelopment project in Cologne called the “MediaPark.” It stands 148.5 meters (487 feet) tall, a height that makes it the third-tallest building in Cologne after the monument cathedral and the city’s main telecommunications tower.

Cologne Tower
Cologne Tower / Harald Hillemanns / Wiki Commons

10. Colonius

Colonius is the name of a famous tower in Cologne that serves as the city’s telecommunications tower and originally also as an observation tower. It’s located just southwest of the MediaPark redevelopment project in the northwestern part of the city and can be seen from just about anywhere in Cologne.

The tower was completed in 1981 and stands 266 meters (972.7 feet) tall. This is slightly taller than its original height of 252.9 meters (828.72 feet) before it was extended in 2004. Unfortunately, the restaurant and observation deck inside the tower have been closed since 1992.

Colonius Observation Toer
Colonius Observation Tower / Superbass / Wiki Commons