Friday, November 14, 2008

Cologne, Germany

Cologne is a big city, judging from the volume of tourists that visit the Cologne cathedral, as well as the size of the Cologne central train station ("Koln Hauptbahnhof").

The main tourist attraction here is the Cathedral, among the oldest in Germany, perhaps in Europe too. During the Allies' bombings of Germany, it was the only structure in the city that was spared, almost all other buildings around it were damaged if not flattened.

From outside the city, the Cathedral is prominent because it is tall. Well, there are very few skyscrapers in Cologne. The wide Rhine River softly flows under a long bridge at the heart of the city.

The structure is old yet designed very elaborately. Inside the church, the stained glass window designs are very colorful and elaborate, really beautiful.

Gummersbach, Germany

Gummersbach is a small and hilly city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the richest among 16 states in Germany. It is 56 kms from Cologne.

Our seminar on "Local government and civil society is held at Theodor Heuss Akademie. It has complete facilities -- lecture rooms, meeting rooms, wide lobby, dining hall, internet corner, 8-storeys dormitory, etc. It is operated by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty.

The akademie is on top of a small hill. The city proper is below it, on its back. In front of the akademie is a forested and open grassland area, very serene and beautifully-landscaped.