5 ideas for a visit in Cologne’s Mülheim district
Street artist Tim shares his favourite places
“Mülheim is a district full of dynamism. In fact, you could say tomorrow’s Mülheim is yesterday’s Prenzlauer Berg“, says Cologne-based graphic and reverse graffiti artist Tim, alias seiLeise, comparing Mülheim with Berlin’s well-known trendy district.
For Tim, who grew up in Mülheim, Cologne means home, and Mülheim, on the right bank of the Rhine, has a particularly special place in his heart, even though it’s changed considerably since he was a child in the 80s.
From graffiti to reverse art
Tim started out as a graffiti artist – a form to which he felt extremely drawn as an adolescent. Not least because it’s illegal, which made him see it as a way of rebelling. But the risk involved eventually started to become too tedious.
The excitement and adventure of having to get up every night gradually turned into tiresome routine. So Tim wanted to find a form of street art that would allow him to develop as an artist and that was perhaps a little more “compliant”.
His search led him to reverse graffiti, a type of graffiti in which a picture is created by partially cleaning a surface. He’s now one of Germany’s most productive artists in the genre as well as being the co-organiser of the “Straßengold” (literally “street gold”) project.
Mülheim – Tim’s top tips
Tim says Mülheim is set to become one of the city’s major cultural hubs. It’s a transformation he’s very happy about but he is worried that culture projects will have to make way for luxury redevelopments in the long term.
Whatever the future brings, Mülheim will always be his district – with lots of places he loves and highly recommends. I explored and photographed them for you, gradually falling in love too – with a district I barely knew but I’m sure to come back to much more often now.
Nice to know: Tim’s top places to visit are all very close to one another, making it easy to do them all in the space of one morning/afternoon.
Café Vreiheit has been around since 2001 and is a true Mülheim institution. The inside is cosy, almost a little rustic, and there’s outdoor seating as well, opposite the café, with a quaint church adjacent to lend a little shade. In addition to the delicious coffee, Vreiheit has numerous dishes on the menu, including a daily lunch special, plus Sunday brunch and a large selection of cakes.
Wallstr. 91, 51063 Cologne
The Jakubowski – named after a former occupant of the building that houses it – is simply undeniably beautiful. Under the high ceilings, decorated with clouds, of this spacious café, you can sit back and enjoy a coffee, hot chocolate or chai just a few hundred metres from the Rhine. The menu has a wide range of cakes, salads and snacks to satisfy any appetite.
Mülheimer Freiheit 54, 51063 Cologne
Church of St. Clemens
“It’s one of the loveliest spots in the city – a charming church, right on the bank of the Rhine, the promenade, the playground, all framed by beautiful little terraced houses.” That’s how Tim sums up one of his favourite places – and, having now been there myself, I have to say I completely agree. It’s just a few metres from Café Jakubowski to St. Clemens, a mariners’ church dating back to the 13th century. Immediately in front of the church, a statue of Saint John of Nepomuk stands on the riverbank, a true symbol of Mülheim. You could easily spend ages here, next to Nepomuk, gazing out at the water with him and simply enjoying the quiet.
Mülheimer Ufer, 51063 Cologne
Keupstraße is almost entirely made up of Turkish and Kurdish shops and restaurants – in fact, it’s known throughout Germany as a centre of Turkish business activity. There are greengrocers galore, along with Turkish bakeries and shops selling jewellery, bridal wear and much more. In Tim’s words, “Keupstraße is a different world. The flair, the people, the atmosphere – it’s a touch of the orient. Plus great Turkish restaurants, yummy lamb kebabs, smothered in garlic, and then tea to wash it all down.”