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Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, and is the largest city in the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has a population of just under one million. The German name for Cologne is Köln.

Orientation and city districts

Cologne is split by the Rhein River, with the West/left side (Links-Rhein) being the original city started by the Romans. Links-Rhein is arranged in a series of semicircular rings against the river with the Old City (Altstadt) and shopping area in the centre. The first ring is usually just called the Ring. Much of the night life takes place in a few places along the Ring (Friesenplatz, Clodwigplatz, Zulpicherplatz). Everything inside the ring is considered Innenstadt (inner city). There are some nice places to live around here if you like downtown living, but prices are not cheap.

A few hundred meters outside of the Ring is the main railway track which forms another ring, circling from the Südbrücke all the way back to the Hauptbahnhof, which is situated right next to the Koelner Dom by the river. Between the tracks and the Ring is a belt of neighbourhoods that include some of the nicest and most expensive, like the Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel) and Agnes Quarter (Agnesviertel). They are somewhat peaceful areas that have some nice pubs, and are still very close (five minutes walk) to the nightlife.

Just outside the tracks is a ring of parks and green space, followed by another set of neighbourhoods, including Ehrenfeld, Lindenthal, Sulz and Marienburg. These areas are quite nice, though they are still more expensive than living further out. Each has a small shopping area for groceries and such, and some nice pubs and cafes. Walking to the Ring and Innenstadt takes from 15 to 30 minutes depending on where in the neighbourhood you live, or 5 to 10 minutes by subway/tram (U-Bahn).

Outside of these neighbourhoods is the Militärring, which effectively marks the outer city boundary. Along this road you will find a ring of much larger recreational parks stretching from the Forstbotanischer Garten (Arboretum) in the south to the Müngersdorfer Stadium in the west - home to FC Köln football club.

The East/right side of the river (Rechts-Rhein) is somewhat separate from the main city, though U-Bahn connections are still good. There are some nice areas around here, though some consider it to be less cool than Links-Rhein. The main neighbourhoods here are Deutz and Kalk. Though it is further from the main night life areas, it can make commuting to some places a lot easier.

Further out still you will find suburbs and satellite towns, including places like Rodenkirchen (nice riverside walks, beaches + occasional flooding), Hürth (good tram connection; home to a number of TV studios), Frechen (nice main street, Toyota Motorsports nearby) and Pulheim (fast train connection). If you work south of Cologne, Brühl can be an option too.

Family life

External links

Cities in North Rhine-WestphaliaCities in GermanyCologne
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