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Photography by Dörthe Boxberg

The hidden side of Cologne is full of people who thrive on living, working and being creative here

In 2017, it’s not easy to recommend visiting Cologne to other people. The sexual assaults of New Year’s Eve 2015/16 and the collapse of Cologne’s historical archive building in 2009 demand a special kind of justification for doing so, even from journalists who are usually very fond of the city they write about on a regular basis.

One constantly has to point to a different, hidden kind of Cologne. A Cologne that is made up of people who thrive on living, working and being creative here, but who can do without the local traditions, the “Klüngel” (Cologne’s special form of corruption) or a misguided form of local patriotism. Instead those people form their own communities. They run a record store or work at a club. They might have opened their own fashion studio or maybe a small gallery. And they do all that with a conviviality that is very typical of Cologne.

For this issue of “Hidden Cologne” we have visited precisely that side of our hometown and we feel honoured to be allowed to introduce it to you. We’re taking you on a tour through the western quarters, where creatives are having to defend their spaces against rising rents. We’ve queued in front of the city’s clubs to find a successor for the “Sound of Cologne.” We’ve visited sweaty concerts by local Indie bands. We’ve thought about which restaurants to recommend to you flitering out the ones that serve the most delicious food or are worth visiting for their atmosphere alone. We have talked to fashion designers, art conoisseurs and DJs and asked them what they like most about this town and what they would recommend to visitors. And we’re introducing you to the hidden aesthetics of Cologne’s architecture, which is often described as ugly.

Throughout our exploration, we’ve also discovered some new favourites and rediscovered old ones. We think, that’s a good sign. It means that the city that we report on so regularly is still able to surprise us.

Your Hidden Cologne team