Oases of calm in Cologne
I’m a city girl. I love the hubbub, the cafés, restaurants and shops, and I especially love watching people as they go about their daily business. In other words, Cologne’s the ideal place for me. But even I occasionally need some peace and quiet – a bit of greenery where I can switch off and recharge for a little while. For that you don’t even have to leave Cologne, since there’s a few green oases even in the city centre. Some might be off the beaten track, but that’s what makes them so precious and secluded. I’d like to recommend a few of these wonderful places to you. They all have their very own character and beauty – and they’re all accessible free of charge.
The rose garden at Fort X
Fort X at Neusser Wall, which is part of the ring-shaped fortification walls around Cologne, is a gorgeous spot in itself: impressive ancient walls surrounded by green grass and old trees. Looking in from the outside, there’s no way to know what awaits once you pass through the “Enveloppen Thor” (gate): a gorgeous garden with 70 species of rose, symmetrically arranged and a perfect place to take a stroll or enjoy a “moment” on one of the many benches or in the pavilion. A must-see spot for flower-lovers, but even if you’re not into the green stuff, this place is magical.
Fort X, Cologne
Neusser Wall 33, 50670 Cologne
Flora, the municipal botanic gardens, is close to Fort X, right next to the zoo, so it’s easy to visit both on the same day. Built in the mid 19th century, the gardens are extensive and you can spend hours there exploring everything they have to offer: a large number of different plant species both outdoors and in the greenhouses, sculptures dotted along the pathways and on the lawns, fountains and much more. The pretty garden restaurant, Dank Augusta, has a patio with a lovely view of the gardens.
Courtyard of the Museum of Applied Arts Cologne
A tiny oasis of calm that couldn’t be more central is the courtyard of the Museum of Applied Arts Cologne (MAKK). As you enter the museum, which is near the Cathedral, Café Holtmann’s is straight ahead – a lovely indoor spot for refreshments, but I recommend heading for the secluded square courtyard where you can rest under shady trees, with the fountain murmuring softly in the background. After a few minutes, you’ll have forgotten you’re in a major city. Of course it’s perfect for relaxing after a tour of the artwork, but the MAKK courtyard is definitely worth a visit in its own right.
Museum for Applied Art Cologne
An der Rechtschule, 50667 Cologne
Admission free if you’re not heading into the museum
Rautenstrauch canal, also known as Lindenthal canal, is – as the name would suggest – in the leafy district of Lindenthal. This green oasis is on the periphery of the city centre, so it’s still very central and accessible. For instance, Cologne University is close by. The canal connects the city’s inner and outer green belts and is lined with an avenue of chestnut trees that’s perfect for strolling, swan- and duck-watching, bench-sitting, tree-gazing or book-reading or whatever takes your fancy. On hot summer days, especially, this shady oasis is a wonderful place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.