Cologne was founded by the Romans in 38 BC and is one of the oldest cities in Germany. During World War II the city was heavily bombed, only the characteristic Dom was partly spared. Cologne is also an important art center, the city has no less than 30 museums and hundreds of art galleries.
Cologne has well over 1 million inhabitants, which makes it the fourth largest city in Germany.
The city is situated on both river banks of the Rhine, but the downtown area is located on the west bank of the river. Due to its location on a junction between a continental and an oceanic climate, winter and summer is mild.
The food and chemical industry and the financial service sector are the most important sectors of the local economy, furthermore many trade shows and exhibitions are organized in the city. The city is also an important media center with the head offices of the radio and television stations Westdeutscher Rundfunk and RTL.
Cologne has one of the largest inland ports of Western Europe, furthermore in the surrounding areas there is a viniculture for wine production and there are several breweries producing the famous Kölsch beer.
Not to forget, Cologne is famous for its water, Eau de Cologne, both the original perfume factory "Farina gegenüber" and the latter competitor "4711" still produce their fragrances in the city.
To the southeast of the city lies the Köln/Bonn airport (the official name is however Konrad-Adenauer-Flughafen), this airport has flight connections with almost 140 destinations in 39 countries.
Cologne has a good public transport network. The subway system is in fact linked with the high speed streetcar network, additionally the city has many bus lines and train connections. The Stadtbahn lines 16 and 18 run across Cologne´s suburbs to reach the final destination, Bonn. There is also a train connection with the international airport.
The unique Rheinseilbahn is an aerial tramway crossing the Rhine River, in six minutes it takes you to the final destination while you enjoy the beautiful scenery.
It is not difficult to get your way around Cologne as the city has a system of five beltways. The inner beltway is called "Ring", the next “Innere Kanalstrasse”, followed by the “Gürtel” and the “Militärring” and finally the highway beltway “Autobahnring”.
It is quite hard to find one of the rather expensive parking spaces, nevertheless there is a dynamic information system indicating which parking garages have available spaces. Alternatively you can park your car at the zoo or at he university and continue by public transport.
Like many other German cities the city center is an “Umweltzone" (low emission area) where you are only allowed to enter with a special sticker on your windscreen.
Cologne has a large range of hotels to offer, in all price categories. You need to take into account that during special events (such as the yearly Christmas fair) you need to book your room well in advance.
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