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If there’s a symbol of Cologne, Germany, it’s the twin-spired gothic Cologne Cathedral, one of the tallest buildings in the city. Its cornerstone was laid in 1248 and after centuries of fits and starts was finally completed in 1880. The cathedral sits in the rebuilt Old Town section of the central inner city district along with historic city hall and other important institutions.
Cologne is situated near the border of Belgium and The Netherlands. Both Frankfort and Düsseldorf International Airport are less than an hour away. Cologne is the home of Koeln Bonn Airport, one of the largest in Germany. Unlike Düsseldorf and Frankfort, Koein Bonn offers special night-flying permissions. The Rhine River splits the city in two. Sitting as it does on one of the largest inland ports in Europe, Cologne was a leading member of the Hanseatic League in the Middle Ages. During World War II, much of the city was destroyed and the reconstruction lasted decades.
Today, Cologne is a center of the media and automotive industries. It’s also a university town and the University of Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest. Not surprisingly, it’s a youthful city with a relaxed and tolerant vibe, a place young people launch their careers. The city’s many parks, gardens and open green spaces are always active. Cologners are known for their embrace of culture and the arts. The Cologne Carnival, so long it’s called the “fifth season,” kicks off at 11:11 am on November 11 and continues on with street parties, shows, balls and parades until mid-February with a few breaks. One of those breaks is for the open-air Christmas markets that take over and draw millions.
The city is divided into nine districts or Stadtbezirke. The west bank of the Rhine, sometimes called the left Rhine side, encompasses the dense downtown district and some of the city’s most sought-after residential neighborhoods. Homeownership is low compared to other European cities, and Cologne property buyers are typically German residents. However, luxury housing, particularly along the river in Old Town, is drawing more attention from international buyers.