I’ve already written about Cologne a few times, so this one will just be pictures from the Christmas Market. We met our friends Jason and Erica (plus their daughter Addison and their cousin Courtney who was visiting from the States) for the day; which was really nice because we’ve been trying to get together forever! They are also from Greenville, SC on an expat contract and will be here one more year. Sadly they live down in Ansbach (about 6 hours away) so we haven’t been able to meet up much yet, but we’re hoping to make it down their way before they move back!
The couple we rented a room from in Bonn told us the story of the Heinzelmännchen of Cologne – which was fitting since a whole section of the Christmas market is dedicated to gnomes! If you want to read about the fairy tale you can find it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinzelm%C3%A4nnchen.
A few weeks ago we made plans to meet up with some friends from SC (who are expats living in southern Germany) in Cologne on Sunday, December 1st.. so we decided to go ahead and make a weekend of it at checkout Bonn on Saturday. Bonn was founded in the first century BC as a Roman settlement- making Bonn is one of Germany’s oldest cities. It was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of the government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999. Bonn was estimated to be 95 million DM more expensive than using Frankfurt. However, top politicians intended for Berlin to become the capital of the reunified Germany, and felt that locating the capital in a major city like Frankfurt or Hamburg would imply a permanent capital. Also, it is the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven (born 1770).
After meeting the family we were staying with (we rented one room from a couple on Airbnb), we headed to Schloss Drachenburg in Königswinter. It was built in the late 19th century and reminded me a lot of Biltmore (though not nearly as big), but it did have some amazing views of the Rhine. They even had their own Christmas market going on out front! Next we visited the Doppelkirche Schwarzrheindorf – a double church from the High Middle Ages (ca. 1151). The upper church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the lower church is dedicated to Pope Clement I. Only the lower church was open, but the 12th century frescos were really beautiful.
Next we parked in town and saw some of the sights: Old Town Hall (built in 1737), the Kurfürstliches Schloss (now used by Bonn University), the Bonn Minster (the cathedral), Münsterplatz and Beethoven’s house. The Bonn Minster is one of Germany’s oldest churches, having been built between the 11th and 13th centuries. Also, there are two huge sculptures depicting the heads of Saints Cassius and Florentius in front of it- who were beheaded for their religious beliefs at the present location of the Bonn Minster. We also took a walk along the Rheinufer (Rhine embankment) and walked around the shopping area (including a stop in HARIBO). Münsterplatz, Marktplatz, and several other squares around town had weihnachtsmarkt’s going on. The Christmas lights everywhere were beautiful.
Saturday morning we had a really nice breakfast with the couple we stayed with before heading over to check out the pretty houses along Poppelsdorfer Allee and seeing Poppelsdorfer Schloss. Our last stop before heading to Cologne was Alter Friedhof (the Old Cemetery- built 1715), which is one of the best known cemeteries in Germany.