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Alter Markt, Cologne

A City on the Rhine

Leverkusen's humble beginnings as a small fishing village on the banks of the Rhine River belie its modern-day status as a thriving industrial hub. Founded in 1161, Leverkusen underwent a dramatic transformation in the 19th century with the establishment of chemical factories, particularly Bayer, which would go on to become one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. This industrial legacy has left an indelible mark on the city, with the iconic Bayer Cross, the company's symbol, visible from miles around.

The city's strategic location on the Rhine, one of Europe's most important waterways, has played a crucial role in its development. The river has served as a vital transportation route for goods and people, connecting Leverkusen to major cities throughout Germany and beyond. This strategic position has also influenced the city's diverse cultural heritage, with influences from both its industrial past and its proximity to Cologne, a vibrant cultural metropolis just a stone's throw away.

Alter Markt, Cologne's Old Town Square

History: The Alter Markt, or Old Market Square, is the heart of Cologne's Old Town and one of the city's most historic and charming squares. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages when it served as a bustling trading hub, hosting markets and fairs. Over the centuries, the square has witnessed many significant events, including the construction of the Old Town Hall, the execution of criminals, and the coronation of Holy Roman Emperors.

Architecture: The Alter Markt is renowned for its stunning architectural ensemble, which blends various styles from different eras. The most prominent building is the Old Town Hall, a magnificent Gothic structure with an elaborate façade and a towering clock tower. Surrounding the square are numerous historic guildhalls, each with its unique architectural features and intricate details. The square is also home to several churches, including the Romanesque basilica of St. Martin and the Gothic church of St. Agnes.

Atmosphere: The Alter Markt exudes a vibrant and lively atmosphere, attracting locals and tourists alike. The square is lined with outdoor cafés and restaurants, where visitors can relax and soak up the historic ambiance. Street performers entertain the crowds with their music and acts, while markets and festivals are frequently held throughout the year, adding to the square's lively atmosphere.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, is the undisputed symbol of the city of Cologne and one of the most visited landmarks in Germany. Its construction began in 1248 and spanned over 600 years, with the final touches being completed in 1880. This magnificent cathedral is a testament to the skill and devotion of the medieval builders who created this architectural marvel.

In 1996, Cologne Cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing its outstanding universal value. Its soaring spires, which dominate the city skyline, are visible from miles around and serve as a beacon for visitors from near and far. The cathedral's exterior is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures that depict biblical scenes and saints, while the interior is equally impressive with its golden altars, magnificent choir stalls, and numerous chapels.

One of the most notable features of Cologne Cathedral is the Shrine of the Three Wise Men, which is said to contain the relics of the three kings who visited the infant Jesus. This elaborate shrine, located behind the high altar, is a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists alike.

A visit to Cologne Cathedral is a must for anyone visiting the city. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or religion, you will be awe-inspired by this magnificent edifice. Take the time to explore the cathedral's interior and exterior, marvel at its stunning stained-glass windows, and soak in the unique atmosphere of this sacred space.

Chocolate Museum

The Chocolate Museum in Cologne is a must-visit for chocolate lovers and anyone interested in the history and culture of chocolate. The museum is housed in a former chocolate factory, and its exhibits tell the story of chocolate from its origins in Mesoamerica to its introduction to Europe and its eventual popularity worldwide.

Visitors can learn about the different stages of chocolate production, from harvesting cocoa beans to producing the finished product. The museum also has a replica of a Mayan cocoa plantation, complete with a traditional Mayan hut and cacao trees.

One of the highlights of the museum is the tasting room, where visitors can sample different types of chocolate, including some exotic and unusual varieties. There is also a chocolate shop where visitors can buy chocolate souvenirs and gifts.

Museum Ludwig

Founded in 1976, the Museum Ludwig is one of the most important museums of modern and contemporary art in Germany. The museum's collection comprises over 90,000 works, with a focus on Pop Art and Expressionism. Highlights of the collection include works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Joseph Beuys. The museum also features a significant collection of Russian avant-garde art, with works by Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzky, and Alexander Rodchenko.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Museum Ludwig also hosts temporary exhibitions, which showcase the latest trends in contemporary art. The museum is housed in a striking modern building, designed by the Austrian architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The building is located on the banks of the Rhine River, and offers stunning views of the city skyline.

Fun Fact: The Museum Ludwig is home to one of the largest collections of Pop Art in Europe, with over 1,000 works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg.

Rhine River Cruise

The Rhine River, a majestic waterway that has borne witness to centuries of history, flows gracefully through Leverkusen, inviting visitors to embark on a captivating journey. Rhine River cruises offer a unique perspective of the region, showcasing its picturesque landscapes and rich cultural heritage.

Options for cruises abound, catering to diverse preferences and budgets. Short sightseeing cruises provide a glimpse of the city's landmarks, including the imposing Cologne Cathedral and the iconic Bayer Cross. For a more immersive experience, longer cruises venture further afield, exploring the entire Rhine Valley with its enchanting villages, sprawling vineyards, and medieval castles.

As the ship glides along the tranquil waters, passengers are treated to panoramic views of the ever-changing scenery. The riverbanks teem with life, as charming villages nestle amidst rolling hills, vineyards cascade down slopes, and ancient castles stand sentinel, whispering tales of bygone eras. The Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a particular highlight, showcasing the river's dramatic beauty as it winds through towering cliffs and lush forests.

Beyond the visual splendor, Rhine River cruises offer a unique opportunity to delve into the region's rich history and culture. Onboard commentaries provide insights into the legends, traditions, and significant events that have shaped the Rhine Valley. Visitors can disembark at various stops along the way to explore historic towns, visit museums, or indulge in local delicacies. Whether seeking a leisurely sightseeing excursion or an in-depth exploration of the region's heritage, a Rhine River cruise promises an unforgettable experience.

Botanical Garden

Lying on the eastern outskirts of Leverkusen, the Botanical Garden is not only a place of beauty but also a significant center for plant research and conservation. Founded in 1903 by the pharmaceutical giant Bayer, the garden initially served as a testing ground for medicinal plants. Over the years, it has evolved into a diverse collection of over 4,500 plant species from around the world, including exotic species and rare and endangered plants.

The garden is divided into several thematic gardens, each showcasing a different aspect of the plant kingdom. The Japanese Garden, with its serene ponds, bridges, and traditional teahouse, offers a tranquil retreat. The Rose Garden, with its 3,000 roses in bloom from May to October, is a feast for the senses. The Medicinal Plant Garden, with its collection of over 500 medicinal plants, provides insights into the healing power of nature.

One of the highlights of the garden is the giant water lily (Victoria amazonica), whose leaves can grow up to 3 meters in diameter and can support the weight of a small child. The garden also features a tropical greenhouse, where visitors can experience the lush vegetation of the rainforest.

Whether you are a plant enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the Botanical Garden is a place that should not be missed.

Bayer Visitor Center

History of Innovation: Nestled in the heart of Leverkusen, the Bayer Visitor Center unveils the remarkable history of Bayer, a global pharmaceutical and chemical giant that has its roots firmly planted in the city. Founded in 1863 by Friedrich Bayer and Johann Friedrich Weskott, Bayer began its journey as a modest dye producer. Over the years, it has transformed into a global leader in healthcare, agriculture, and material science, continuously pushing the boundaries of innovation and shaping the world we live in.

Interactive Exhibits: The Bayer Visitor Center immerses visitors in an interactive journey through the company's groundbreaking products and research. Discover the science behind Bayer's life-saving medicines, marvel at the advancements in crop protection, and explore the sustainable solutions that are shaping the future of our planet. Interactive exhibits bring Bayer's innovations to life, allowing visitors to engage with cutting-edge technologies and learn about the company's commitment to improving lives worldwide.

Sustainability and Social Responsibility: Bayer's commitment to sustainability and social responsibility is woven into the fabric of the Visitor Center experience. Learn about Bayer's initiatives to reduce its environmental footprint, promote responsible agriculture, and improve access to healthcare for underserved communities. The center highlights Bayer's partnerships with leading organizations to drive positive change and create a healthier, more sustainable future for all.

Guided Tours: To delve deeper into Bayer's world of innovation, guided tours offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse into the company's operations. Visitors can explore the state-of-the-art research laboratories, witness the production processes of Bayer's life-saving medicines, and gain insights into the company's rigorous quality control measures. These tours provide a unique opportunity to see firsthand how Bayer translates scientific discoveries into tangible solutions that benefit society.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Bayer's iconic logo, the Bayer Cross, was initially designed as a simple company stamp? Today, it stands as a globally recognized symbol of innovation and quality, representing Bayer's unwavering commitment to improving lives through science.


The Schauspielhaus Leverkusen is a theater located in Leverkusen, Germany. It was founded in 1929 and is one of the leading theaters in the country. The theater presents a diverse range of performances, including plays, musicals, and dance productions. The Schauspielhaus is also known for its striking architecture, with its Art Deco façade and modern interior. The theater has hosted many famous actors and directors, including Gustaf Gründgens, Bertolt Brecht, and Peter Zadek.

Insider Tip:

  • Attend a performance at the Schauspielhaus. The theater offers a variety of productions, including plays, musicals, and dance performances.
  • Take a guided tour of the theater. The Schauspielhaus offers guided tours that provide a behind-the-scenes look at the theater's history and architecture.
  • Visit the theater's café. The theater's café is a great place to relax and enjoy a drink or a snack before or after a performance.


The Japantag, or Japan Day, is one of the largest Japanese cultural festivals in Europe, attracting over 700,000 visitors each year. Held annually in Leverkusen, the festival celebrates the close ties between Germany and Japan, and offers a vibrant showcase of Japanese culture, cuisine, and traditions.

The festival features a wide range of activities, including traditional Japanese music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, origami workshops, and Japanese food stalls offering a variety of delicious dishes. Visitors can also enjoy the lively atmosphere, with people wearing traditional Japanese costumes and the streets decorated with Japanese lanterns.

The Japantag is a unique opportunity to experience Japanese culture firsthand and to learn more about the country's rich history and traditions. Whether you are a fan of Japanese anime and manga, or simply looking for a fun and cultural day out, the Japantag is not to be missed.

Neuland-Park: A Unique Urban Oasis

Among Leverkusen's many green spaces, Neuland-Park stands out for its distinctive landscape and diverse recreational opportunities. Created as part of the IBA Emscher Park project, this 65-hectare park is a remarkable example of urban transformation.

At the heart of the park lies a series of artificial hills, lakes, and canals, creating a unique and dynamic landscape that blends natural beauty with human ingenuity. Visitors can explore the park's many trails, which wind through meadows, forests, and along the water's edge, offering stunning views and a chance to spot the park's resident wild ponies.

Neuland-Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with a wide range of activities to enjoy. Hikers and bikers will find a network of well-maintained trails, while water sports enthusiasts can take advantage of the park's lakes for swimming, sailing, and fishing. There are also playgrounds, picnic areas, and a skatepark, making the park a popular destination for families and friends.

Fun Fact: The park's unique landscape was created using materials from the former industrial sites that once occupied the area, giving new life to a once-polluted wasteland.

Opladen Palace: A Baroque Gem

Opladen Palace stands as a testament to the grandeur and extravagance of the Baroque era. Built in the 17th century as a Renaissance castle, it underwent significant expansion and transformation in the 18th century, resulting in the magnificent Baroque palace we see today. Its symmetrical façade, adorned with intricate stucco decorations, exudes an air of opulence and elegance.

Inside, the palace boasts a treasure trove of Baroque art and furnishings. The grand staircase, with its sweeping curves and ornate balustrade, leads to a series of lavishly decorated rooms. Visitors can admire the exquisite collection of furniture, paintings, and sculptures that adorn the palace walls, providing a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Counts of Berg, who once resided here.

The Opladen Palace Museum is a must-visit for art and history enthusiasts, offering a fascinating journey through the Baroque period. The museum showcases a diverse collection of artifacts, including furniture, paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, providing insights into the artistic and cultural trends of the time.

Fun Fact: The palace's elaborate gardens, once a showcase of Baroque landscaping, have been meticulously restored to their former glory, offering visitors a tranquil oasis to stroll and admire the beauty of nature.

St. Remigius Church: A Blend of Romanesque and Gothic Architecture

The St. Remigius Church stands as a testament to Leverkusen's rich religious heritage. Its history dates back to the 12th century, when it was built as a Romanesque basilica. Over the centuries, the church underwent several modifications and expansions, resulting in a harmonious blend of Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements.

The church's exterior is characterized by its imposing façade, featuring a combination of rounded Romanesque arches and pointed Gothic windows. The interior is equally impressive, with its vaulted ceiling, intricate stained-glass windows, and numerous works of art. The church's most notable feature is its Romanesque tower, which offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

Insider Tip: For a truly immersive experience, visit the church during one of its regular services or concerts to witness the vibrant community of St. Remigius in action.

Insider Tip

Hidden Gem: For an off-the-beaten-track experience, visit the Japanese Garden in the Leverkusen Botanical Garden. This serene garden, hidden away in a corner of the park, features traditional Japanese landscaping, including a koi pond, a teahouse, and a torii gate.

Local Favorite: Café Klümpchen on Friedrich-Ebert-Platz is a beloved local spot for coffee, cake, and traditional German cuisine. The café has a warm and inviting atmosphere, and the staff is always friendly and welcoming.

Photography Spot: The Leverkusen Bridge offers stunning views of the city, the Rhine River, and the surrounding countryside. The bridge is a popular spot for photographers, especially at sunset, when the sky turns a fiery red and orange.

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