Join us for a week-end trip to one of the largest German cities and two of the most beautiful rococo residences in Europe (UNESCO cultural World Heritage Sites). The program is going to be the following: on Saturday, we will visit Cologne and stay overnight in the city. We will visit also the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, which houses a collection of fine art from the medieval period to the early twentieth century:
On the second day, we will leave for Bruhl (it is 15 min. away from Cologne by train), and visit the two palaces. We will return to Amsterdam in the evening.
We meet as usual in front of the Hema shop, in the main hall of the central train station in Amsterdam. Please be there in time, we will not wait for latecomers. Note that accommodation has to be arranged by everyone on their own. I booked a room at the hotel Hotel Ibis Koeln Frechen, you will find further details about it here:
Feel free to book a room here or in any other hotel that is easily accessible.
Our traveling plan is going to be the following: from Amsterdam Centraal, we will take the ICE train leaving at 10:34 AM. We suggest you to buy return train tickets from Amsterdam Centraal to Cologne as soon as possible, prices are usually higher in the last days before the trip. You can buy them here:
On Sunday, we will take for the way back the train leaving Cologne at 17:46. Taking into account the transport cost, meals and accommodation, I would estimate the total cost of the trip at around[masked] EUR.
Do not hesitate to contact me for any further details. Hope you will join us for this cultural and historical discovery trip, and we will spend a great week-end together :)
Cologne is one of the oldest cities in Germany, founded by the Romans in the first century AD, as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. It was the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior and the headquarters of the Roman army in the region. The city had around 45,000 inhabitants in the 3rd century AD, becoming one of the most important trade and production centers in the Roman Empire north of the Alps. From 260 to 271 Cologne was the capital of the Gallic Empire, which had seceded from the Roman Empire, and included all its former Western provinces. Colonia was pillaged several times by the Franks in the 4th century and finally fell to the Ripuarian Franks in 462 AD.
Early medieval Cologne was part of Austrasia, one of the kingdoms within the Frankish Empire. Cologne had been the seat of a bishop since the Roman period; under Charlemagne, in 795, bishop Hildebold was promoted to archbishop. The city served as a base for the Carolingian conversion of the Saxons and Frisians. Besides its economic and political significance, it also became an important center of medieval pilgrimage, when Archbishop Rainald of Dassel gave the relics of the Three Wise Men to Cologne's cathedral in 1164
Following the Battle of Worringen in 1288, Cologne gained its independence from the archbishops and became a Free City. As such, Cologne was a sovereign state within the Holy Roman Empire and had the right (and obligation) to maintain its own military force. Wearing a red uniform, these troops were known as the Rote Funken (red sparks). During the Middle Ages the city flourished as one of the most important centers of trade between eastern and western Europe. Cologne was a leading member of the Hanseatic League, and one of the largest cities in Europe in medieval and renaissance times. The archbishops, former overlords until the 13th century, were usually not allowed to enter the city. Thus they took up residence in Bonn and later in Brühl, from where they repeatedly challenged and threatened the free status of Cologne during the 17th and 18th century.
The city lost its freedom after the French conquest in 1794. The French modernized public life, for example by introducing the Napoleonic code and removing the old elites from power. The Napoleonic code remained in use on the left bank of the Rhine until 1900.
In 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, Cologne was made part of the Kingdom of Prussia. The permanent tensions between the Roman Catholic Rhineland and the overwhelmingly Protestant Prussian state repeatedly escalated. These conflicts alienated the Catholic population from Berlin and contributed to a deeply felt anti-Prussian resentment.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Cologne absorbed numerous surrounding towns, and by World War I it had already grown to 700,000 inhabitants. Industrialization changed the city and spurred its growth. Vehicle and engine manufacturing were especially successful. The cathedral, started in 1248 but abandoned around 1560, was eventually finished in 1880. It was not just as a place of worship, but also as a German national monument celebrating the newly founded German empire.
In the 19th century, Cologne was designated as one of the Fortresses of the German Confederation. The military demands presented a significant obstacle to urban development, with forts, bunkers, and wide defensive dugouts completely encircling the city and preventing expansion; this resulted in a very dense built-up area within the city itself.
After the First World War, Cologne was occupied by the British Army until 1926. The city prospered during the Weimar Republic (1919–33) and progress was made especially with respect to public governance, city planning, housing and social affairs. At the beginning of the Third Reich, Cologne was seen as a difficult territory by the Nazis because of deep-rooted communist and Catholic influences. The Nazis were always struggling for control of the city.
During the Bombing of Cologne in World War II, the city endured 262 air raids by the Western Allies, which caused approximately 20,000 civilian casualties and almost completely wiped out the center of the city. In 1945 the architect and urban planner Rudolf Schwarz called Cologne the "world's greatest heap of rubble". The destruction of 95% of the city center, including the famous Twelve Romanesque churches, meant a tremendous loss of cultural treasures. The rebuilding of those churches and other landmarks like the Gürzenich event hall lasted until the 1990s.
Today, Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city (after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich), with about one million residents. 17.2 percent of Cologne's population is non-German. Lufthansa, the German flag carrier has its main corporate headquarters in Cologne. The city has the second largest inland port in Germany, and one of the largest in Europe. It is home to numerous universities and colleges, and host to around 72,000 students. The University of Cologne (originally founded in 1388) is the largest university in Germany, and The Cologne University of Music and Dance is the largest conservatory in Europe.
Cologne is famous for Eau de Cologne, a perfume created by Italian expatriate Johann Maria Farina. During the 18th century this perfume became increasingly popular and was exported all over Europe. Today, the original perfume is still produced by the Farina family, currently in the eighth generation.
The Cologne carnival is one of the biggest street festivals in Europe. Around a million people usually celebrate it in the streets on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.
The Cologne Cathedral is the city's most famous monument. Started in 1248 and completed in 1880, it was designated as a World Heritage site; it houses the Shrine of the Three Kings, which supposedly contains the relics of the Three Magi. Residents of Cologne sometimes refer to the cathedral as "the eternal construction site". Other important monuments are the twelve Romanesque churches, outstanding examples of medieval church architecture. The origins of some of them go back as far as Roman times, for example St. Gereon, which was originally a chapel in a Roman graveyard. The Cologne City Hall, founded in the 12th century, is the oldest city hall in Germany still in use. The Renaissance style loggia and tower were added in the 15th century.
Brühl was the residence of the Prince Bishops of Cologne, after the city managed to expel them in the 13th century. Set in an idyllic garden landscape, Augustusburg Castle, the sumptuous residence of the prince-archbishops of Cologne, and the Falkenlust hunting lodge, a small rural folly, are among the best examples of Rococo architecture in 18th-century Germany. The castles and gardens are outstanding examples of a large princely residence of the 18th century. For more than a century, they served as models for most of the German princely courts.
A Rococo masterpiece projected by François de Cuvillies, the castle of Augustusburg is directly linked to the great European architecture of the first half of the 18th century. An architect at the court of Munich since 1724, Cuvillies valued above all a decorative style which was based on a system of asymmetry and invention. At Augustusburg, the interior develops around a piece of creative genius, the staircase of Balthasar Neumann, which unites a lively movement of marble and stucco, jasper columns and caryatids, culminating in the astonishing frescoed ceiling of Carlo Carlone.
Falkenlust is a country house with symmetrical avant-corps. It was built from 1729 to 1740, in the style of the Amalienburg hunting lodge from Munich, by François de Cuvilliés.
The large gardens, laid out at the same time, both oppose and complement each other. At Augustusburg, Dominique Girard, a pupil of Le Nôtre, multiplied monumental ramps and symmetrical flower beds, like those of the gardens of Nymphenburg, Schleissheim, and the Belvedere of Vienna, of which he was also the designer. At Falkenlust the landscaping, although highly concerted, nonetheless endeavours to create the randomness of a natural site.
Until 1990, the Augustusburg Palace was used by the West German government to receive foreign heads of states visiting West German The palaces have been listed as a UNESCO cultural World Heritage Site since 1984.