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Familiar to many only because of its Eau-de-Cologne fame, Cologne - or Köln as it is locally called - is the fourth-largest city in Germany. Despite its size, Cologne's undeniable appeal is that it is beautiful, orderly, modern and yet quaint in so many ways. People from all over the world are currently flocking to this marvellous city to witness the ongoing largest photography fair in the world. Here are some quick tips on what to do there.
The world's largest photographic trade fair is held in Cologne every two years. The 2010 edition saw 180,000 visitors from 160 countries! The entire city is abuzz during the 5 days of the exhibition, catering to the thousands of visitors that it receives at this time. For photography enthusiasts there's nothing quite like Photokina, where the biggest brands make the biggest announcements that will shape the industry for the next two years. This year Photokina is on from September 18 to 23, 2012.
There are few things as divine as sitting in the shade of the Köln cathedral. A World Heritage Site, day or night the Kölner Dom stands tall by the banks of the river Rhein, set against a modernised central railway station and central square. Completed in 1880, the Gothic architectural marvel attracts over six million visitors a year and it isn't in the least an exaggeration to say that it leaves everyone awe-struck.
Kölsch at Früh
Germany without beer is no Germany at all. Every town has its own unique style. Köln's is kölsch. This light, frothy brew is refreshing and so easy to drink that it can convert anyone into a beer drinker. One of the best places to grab your kölsch is at Früh am Dom, a brewpub close to the cathedral. It is so popular with visitors and locals that despite the many tables it holds, it is often difficult to get a spot to sit. Disappearing into tiny nooks and crannies at various levels, Früh is as much a treat for the eyes as the taste buds.
Cologne loves its art and has more than its fair share of museums. The Ludwig Museum, right by the central station is a favourite. It holds over thousands of modern art pieces spanning PopArt, Abstract, Surrealist and Russian avant-garde paintings. The most popular exhibits in the museum are those containing the works of Roy Lichtenstein and Pablo Picasso. The Museum of Applied Arts and Wallraf-Richartz Museum are also well worth a look.
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