Picture perfect: Photography spots in Cologne
If you love taking pictures, chances are your prime target will be Cologne Cathedral. But make no mistake, this city has innumerable other spots that are more than deserving of some photographic attention, be it with a smartphone or a high-end SLR camera. Here’s six hot tips for photography enthusiasts.
Most visitors to the city, as well as its inhabitants, snap the Cathedral from the front – or rather they try to, since it’s impossible to get the 157-m high building in one single picture without sacrificing some piece of it or ending up with unwanted trees or buildings in the frame. Even lying down on the ground or using a super-wide angle lens won’t help. If you want a really good snap of the Cathedral and the Old Town, why not take a detour across the river? Position yourself somewhere along the Rheinboulevard or on the steps up to Hohenzollern bridge. You won’t get a completely unadulterated image of the Cathedral even from there, but you will be pleasantly surprised by the composition, with the Rhine, the Old Town and the old railway bridge in the foreground.
Tip: Bring a tripod and experiment with long exposures in the hour after dusk, when the lights go up on the Cathedral, in the Old Town and along the bridge.
In close proximity to the new Rheinboulevard is KölnTriangle, a high-rise also known locally as the LVR Tower, whose observation deck on the 29th floor at a height of around 100 m offers an incredible 360-degree view of Cologne – by definition a superb spot for photographers. Its plate-glass walls are great for portrait photography. But bear in mind that if you head up there at sundown, you’ll have a lovely view of the city but the light from the stairwell does reflect off the glass so depending on your angle, this may interfere with your composition.
Ottoplatz 1, 50679 Cologne
Admission: EUR 5
Rheinauhafen, the riverside harbour with its modern urban architecture and great location has been a photographers’ favourite for years. The three Kranhäuser (crane houses) are particularly great eye-catchers. Other superb motifs include Silo 23, the string of reclaimed warehouses known as Siebengebirge (Seven Hills), the Kap am Südkai building or the skater park at the southern end. Amateur photographers will love experimenting with the lines and mirrored images in this area, which is also a great backdrop for fashion or portrait photography. By the way, the underground car park that runs alongside the Rhine in this part of town is 1.6 km long – the second-longest underground parking structure in the world. That said, its potential for photography is limited.
Photography is not usually allowed in museums, but Kolumba, the museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne, is a notable exception. What’s more, to me this is one of the most beautiful museums in the country. For one, it is housed in an extraordinary structure designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and erected above the ruins of the church of St Kolumba, which was bombed during World War II. For another, the beautifully presented artworks are rotated every year and range from early Christianity to contemporary pieces. And as I said, photography is explicitly allowed (without flash). If you can’t find a motif here, you won’t find one anywhere.
Kolumbastraße 4, 50667 Cologne
Admission: EUR 8 (closed Tuesdays)
Heumarkt and Severinstrasse subway stops
For a long time, Cologne’s subway stations were embarrassingly dull, with a decidedly un-metropolitan air about them. The arrival of the new north-to-south metro line changed all this. Heumarkt and Severinstrasse in particular practically roll out the red carpet for photographers. Either you can use the architecture as a motif in its own right, or use it as a backdrop for portraits or to stage a composition. At Heumarkt, try capturing the cavernous hall on the mezzanine level; at Severinstrasse the main attractions are the infinitely long escalator and the wall cladding on the mezzanine level and the stairways.
Within the triangle between Zoobrücke bridge, the Rhine and Riehler Strasse is the Skulpturenpark (sculpture park). Opened 20 years ago, these 3.5 hectares of land are home to sculptures by international artists such as Anish Kapoor, Jenny Holzer and Heimo Zebernig. A path takes you past the art, some of which are walk-in structures. For photographers, the park is a point of attraction because it unites art and nature and offers lots of unusual angles. If you’re looking for an unconventional backdrop for portrait photography, you should give this place a try. The park is fenced in and guarded, so be sure to check opening hours before you set off.
Riehler Strasse (main entrance), 50668 Cologne