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Described by UNESCO as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Cologne Cathedral or the Kölner Dom is an awe-inspiring world heritage site. The construction of this Gothic cathedral started in 1248 and took 632 years to complete. When the church was finally completed in 1880, it was one of the world's tallest buildings. The Dom stands an imposing 157 meters (505 feet) high and while climbing one of the towers may be quite an endeavor, the view from the top is definitely worth the effort. Located within the cathedral is the Treasure Chamber, which is home to significant religious artifacts, including the hooked staff of Saint Peter. The Cologne Cathedral is a well-known historic landmark that can't be missed.
The Hahnentorburg on Rudolfplatz is one of the three medieval gatehouses which remain standing from the city's medieval fortifications. This western gate, along with its two towers, was built in the early 13th-Century and was used as an entrance for royal visitors who came to the city to pay homage to the Cologne Cathedral's Shrine of the Three Kings. The Hahnentorburg was damaged during World War II but it was restored to its former glory and is now an impressive city landmark. Visitors can pass through this historic gateway while admiring this medieval treasure's intriguing architecture.
Located in an impressive building, Imhoff Chocolate Museum is a fantastic museum where visitors can learn about the history of chocolate mainly from the time of ancient Maya and Aztec cultures. Visitors are taken through the history of cocoa beans from various countries, the crushing and processing of the beans and finally the main product. Visitors also get to sample these sweet treats which are simply tasty and delightful. There is a grand cafe and a lovely chocolate shop where visitors can sample various chocolate delights and even purchase some.
On the south-eastern border of Cologne lies the Schloss Wahn, a stunning structure that was originally designed as a moated castle in the 14th-Century and featured a residential tower and gatehouse. In the mid-18th-Century, the family who owned the castle expanded the property, turning it into a moated palace. In 1820, the property was bought by Baron von Eltz-Rübenach and his family who still own the property to this very day. Sadly, the castle was badly damaged during World War II, as so many historic structures were. After the war, renovations were undertaken and today the property is used as a restored manor house that houses the Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung of Cologne University.
Built in the 15th-Century by Rembold of Plettenberg, the Burg Wissem is a grandiose structure that stands in the town of Troisdorf. While it suffered damage in World War II, the structure has been renovated and looks as beautiful today as it did when it was built in 1435. The main halls and rooms of the castle has now been converted into an illustrations museum that showcases different drawings of landmarks located across the city. One half of the building is also dedicated to a research association that deals in recognizing and preserving historical monuments. Visitors can also explore some of the smaller buildings that still house original furnishings and beautiful period-piece decorations.
Situated on the Michaelsberg and overlooking the town of Siegburg, is the Michaelsberg Abbey. It was previously known as the Benedictine monastery belonging to the Subiaco Congregation. Founded in 1064 by Archbishop Anno II, the abbey caught fire in the 18th Century and later rebuilt to the current baroque building complex. Over the years it was used as an army barrack, a mental hospital and as a prison. In 1914, the abbey again fell under the care of the Benedictine convent during World War II. In 2010, the community voted for the termination of the abbey due to its declining financial situation. Today the abbey is open to public visitations and can be explored on a guided tour.
Set atop a hill and overlooking a river valley below, the 19th-century Schloss Drachenburg of Königswinter seems right out of a Grimm brothers' fairy tale. Constructed for a wealthy German broker who never managed to live there, the castle features stunning architecture and beautifully landscaped parks. Ceilings adorned with hand-painted frescoes, luxurious furniture and four-poster beds decorate the interiors, and the castle is also available to rent for private events.
Shooting foamy jets of cold water in the air at a height of 196.85 feet (60 meters), the Andernach Geyser is the world's highest cold water geyser. Along the banks of River Rhine, the spectacular landscapes of Namedy Peninsula encompass the geyser with the verdure of dense trees and grasslands. The geyser is fed by a 1149 feet (350 meter) deep aquifer which was dug with a purpose of extracting carbon dioxide for mineral water. Today, the location of the geyser and its environs have become a major tourist attraction, called the Andernach Geyser Adventure Center. A ferry ride through the river is a favored activity and the best way to explore the scenic landscapes of the Rhine. A tourist information center allows visitors to get detailed information about the geyser. A sight to behold, the high rising water jet is a unique phenomenon to witness.
The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress sits atop a mountain with the same name. The fortress was built on the mountain top between the years of 1817 and 1828 by Prussian forces, though another fortress had stood on this same spot until 1801 when it was destroyed by the French. Of course, early people had also seen the benefits of building on top of the impressive Ehrenbreitstein mountain; some archaeologists believe that structures may have been built on this same site as early as the 9th-Century BC. The fortress that visitors can see today was never attacked while the Prussian military owned it. It was, however, occupied by U.S. troops during the Occupation of the Rhineland. Having escaped destruction in World War II, the fortress served as a variety of establishments before being made into a museum in 1956. Visitors can take a cable car up to the fortress where they can wander around the grounds and explore the many rooms on docent-led tours.
A popular landmark, Limburg Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint George with origins rooted in the 10th century. The present Romanesque building is thought to have been constructed during the early 12th or 13th century, though the actual date of construction is unknown. The church building features imposing twin-tower facades and seven striking spires, and the interiors are decorated with spectacular Evangelist rosettes, pointed and blind arches, archivolts and glass windows.
Runkel Castle is a stupendous fortress situated in the very heart of the renowned city of Runkel in Germany. This fortress is one of the most popular haunts for tourists and locals alike. Overlooking the glistening blue waters of the Lahn river, this age-old beauty is a solitary structure dominating the viridescent Lahn river valley. The castle was constructed in the 12th-Century and has been owned by numerous aristocrats and families of power since its inception. At present, a chapel, museum, and offices are housed within its premises. The site still serves as a residence for Metfried, Prince of Wied, and his family. This site is definitely a must-visit for anyone who loves history or who wants to feel like they've stepped into a fairytale.
The Fürstenpalais, the former residence of the royal family, used to lie just a few yards away from the Hauptwache, the main police station. Yet only the entrance to the residence can be seen today; the rest of the magnificent palace was destroyed in World War II. The 1741 baroque palace the most extravagant in the region, it originally served as the residence of the royal family, but the family left town in 1748 and the palace was turned into a home for royal guests. Between 1816 and 1848, the German parliament met here. Afterwards, the palace became the headquarters of the German Post Office. Completely destroyed during the War, apart from the front entrance, the Post Office Tower was built on the site of the original palace in 1955. Visitors to the area can still walk by the front entrance to the palace and marvel at its splendor while imagining how beautiful the whole palace must have looked.