Fourteen funny features of Cologne, Germany

In April 2009 I stepped in Cologne. I arrived by train from Hanover in a night in which I hardly could see the monstrosity of its cathedral, just in front of the station. I used the following day to stroll around the most typical places of the city. I was a hot humid day which  persuaded me not to follow upstairs to the spire of the cathedral. Luckily, the next day, in which I should follow my trip to a Duesseldorf, started clear and shiny, ideal for the scheduled ascent.

April 13 2009, Köln, armed with my camera. That day I could see a number of curious things that I list in chronological order:

1. Achtung

One of the best-known German words among those who don’t speak German. We came across it in a sign to advise about the danger posed by the tramways. Certainly they are more difficult to be seen, and therefore more dangerous, when you walk looking to the ground, so the placement seems about right.



2. Grünfeld

A pub named after a chess defence which includes a chess knight graffiti on its wall. Nothing special, but otherwise I wouldn’t reach the magical number fourteen.

El bar Grünfeld

El bar Grünfeld

3. Fist and ear statue.

My imagination does not reach the meaning of this statue. It must be the fight against deafness as much as the concept that listening to others makes us stronger. None of the ideas that came to my mind seem to be specially full of sense. Inside the ear there was litter and some cigs butts, but I’m quite sure it is not an ashtray.

Oreja con puños

Oreja con puños

4. Ice-cream on the top

Best location for tourist photos. I have one myself, ice-cream crashed on my head in tower-of-pisa fashion, which I don’t include here out of sheer shame.

El helado estrellado contra el edificio

The icecream crashed on the attic

5.  Small piece in front of cathedral

The cathedral of Cologne is a spectacular mass. Certainly it is in the first place on the list of things worth seeing in town, but it has not place on this list.  What does fit on my list of funny things is the piece in front of the cathedral of which it is said it is identical to the one on top of each of the towers, 140 metres above. One can imagine the efforts to put it up there. Awesome in every sense.

Catedral de Colonia

Catedral de Colonia

6. Pixelated glass.

There is an interesting example of stained glass inside the cathedral. It looks like a tribute to the geek world. The colours of stained glass have always fascinated me and this is no exception in spite of its low definition.

Vidriera pixelada

Pixelated glass

7. Goldfish lamp

In the old town, die Altstadt (actually not so old as not much of the city survived WW2) there’s an area of narrow streets and restaurants. In one of those this lamp held by a whale could be seen.

En la parte vieja de Colonia

Cologne, old town

8.  Football urinal

In an Italian restaurant’s gents there was a football-themed latrine with its goal and all that. There’s a pink football and even if I’m saying too much I’ll let you know that you can move the ball but it is impossible to score.

Deportes en todos los lugares

Sports everywhere

9.  Street ground, orchestra ceiling.

The auditorium in which the Philharmonic rehearses is under the street, more specifically under a square beside the railway tracks. near the cathedral. Apparently, people stepping may disturb the acoustics, so whenever there’s a concert or rehearsal some men prevent pedestrian from stepping over the musicians.

Aquí explican la jugada

Here it is all explained

Los agentes de la ley acústica. Al fondo la catedral.

Acoustic law and order agents. The cathedral on the background.

10. Space invaders.

A friendly alien on a post beside the tracks. It must be one of those guerrilla art actions.



11. Love locks

This is a meme which has been spreading recently. I think I’ve heard the city of  Florence is going to fine the assholes which may uglify it with this kind of junk. The happy couple places its lock with names or initial in a public place and then get rid of the key, or eat it, or keep it until their love is rust. In Cologne the chosen venue is such a city icon as the railway bridge.

Quincalla sentimental

Sentiments rusting

Los candados van en la valla que hay entre el paso de peatones y las vías

The locks are on the fence between the pedestrian gangway and the tracks

12. Buildings in inverted L shape

Futuristic architecture is everywhere but it is still interesting to watch buildings of this type and size. As I saw them from the distance I’m not sure whether the shape is  designed in order to keep the room at the base or to provide with shadow and shelter from the rain.

Las dos eles invertidas. O elle invertida.

Two inverted L’s.

13. Elephant

Germans love antiques in street markets. In this Flohmarkt (flea market, as it is in French or English) and other similar one can trade coins, stamps, old postcards. Also some more unusual stuff such as this elephant. I cannot imagine its price or the use it can serve.

Elefante de pega

Pretend elephant

14. Books as steps

A bookshop chain example of advertising in an underground crossing stairs. The concept is that each step represents the spine of a book. A metaphor full of beauty and wonder, as every book is a new step in life.

A punto de ascender por la escalera del conocimiento

About to ascend the knowledge stairs



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