Tuesday 10 December 2019

A local's guide to Cologne, Susanne Zander interviewed by Paul Sullivan for The Guardian

 Delmes & Zander gallery view at Lindenstraße 20-22 in Cologne
Photo by Johannes Post
"Vintage shops, great bars, buzzing squares and art on tap, there’s a lot more to Cologne than its iconic cathedral and railway bridge"

Spiritual Gifts
"There are many more amazing churches and spiritual spots to visit than just the incredible cathedral with its 157-metre twin spires, one of Germany’s most famous and visited buildings. For example, Melaten-Friedhof is among the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe."

"(...) Wherever you walk in the centre you’ll come across at least one. For me the most fascinating is the Basilica of St Ursula, close to the main train station. Make sure to see the Goldene Kammer (Golden Chamber).. (...) Also worth visiting is St Peter’s, close to main shopping street (Schildergasse), which has a huge painting by Peter Paul Rubens, and an altar by 20th-century sculptor Eduardo Chillida."

The Belgian Quarter
"The district I’ve lived and worked in for 30 years, Belgisches Viertel (the Belgian Quarter), has evolved over the decades from calm and residential to hip neighbourhood with little coffee bars, restaurants and creative stores. The heart of the quarter is Brüsseler Platz (...) Right on the square is Hallmackenreuther, a 1970s-style coffee bar serving breakfast and snacks during the day that turns into a trendy bar in the evening."

Bath House
"On a rainy day I like to go to art nouveau Neptunbad, a public bath built in 1912 that now offers indoor and outdoor saunas, pools, relaxation areas and a Japanese garden. (...) The historic sauna is wonderful, as is the Emperor’s Bath (Kaiserbad), in which you can drift along to underwater music."

The art of books
"A wonderful bookstore, and an institution in Cologne when it comes to art books, is the three-floor Buchhandlung Walther König. I can stay in there for hours looking at all the tomes on architecture, film, design, fashion and art. It’s not only of interest for art lovers, but a paradise for lovers of beautifully made books on all subjects.The founder, Walther König, and his son, Franz, are often in the shop and very approachable, and the ever-changing decorated store-window is regularly curated by artists."

Gallery hopping
"Cologne has had a lively gallery scene since the 1960s. Two I recommend are Galerie Gisela Capitain, just around the corner from Buchhandlung König, which holds the estate of Martin Kippenberger in her spacious rooms, and Galerie Buchholz, hidden behind an antiquarian bookstore, where spacious rooms exhibit internationally established artists such as Isa Genzken and Anne Imhof. Younger galleries such as Ginerva Gambino or Raum Drei promote emerging talent. Most of these spaces are in the centre of Cologne. My favourite newer gallery is Jan Kaps, which represents a younger generation of international artists in a variety of media, from painting and conceptual art to photography, video and sculpture, as well as hosting lectures."

Eastern Influence
"The Museum of East Asian Arts (Museum fuer Ostasiatische Kunst), on the edge of the Aachener Weiher lake, is about 15 minutes’ walk from Melaten cemetery, but still within the green belt. It’s one of the smaller museums, and rather quiet, which is why it’s so special. The 1970s red-brick building was built by Japanese architect Kunio Maekawa, a student of Le Corbusier. (...)After visiting the collection, stop in the museum cafe, Schmitz, which is run by one of the top restaurateurs in Cologne."

When to go
"Cologne has loads of events all year round, but there are a few special times – not least the rambunctious carnival, which includes several days of costume parades, songs and beer (20-28 February). Art Cologne, involving 180 galleries (23-26 April 2020), is one of the world’s oldest fairs for modern and contemporary art, and Sommer Köln features concerts, theatre and more in July and August."

Where to stay
"Smarty hotel (doubles from €98 room-only) has cool pods and dorms. The new 25 Hours The Circle (doubles from €139 room-only) has playfully upbeat rooms and a buzzy restaurant." 

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