Cologne's Third Reich history is poignantly and exhaustively documented in the NS Documentation Centre housed in the very building that served as the headquarters of the local Gestapo (Nazi secret police). The basement prison, where scores of people were interrogated, tortured and killed, is now a memorial site.

Inscriptions and drawings on the cell walls offer a gut-wrenching record of the emotional and physical pain endured by inmates. The execution grounds in the courtyard are also part of the memorial. An audioguide may be rented for €2.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cologne attractions

1. Kölnisches Stadtmuseum

0.05 MILES

The Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, in the former medieval armoury, explores all facets of Cologne's history. Although the permanent exhibit remains closed while…

2. Römerturm

0.21 MILES

This jaunty tower marks the northwest corner of the ancient Roman town fortifications, which stretched for 4km and had at least nine gates and 19 round…

3. Museum für Angewandte Kunst

0.21 MILES

If Aalto, Eames and Olivetti are music to your ears, you should swing by the Museum of Applied Arts, which displays a prestigious and extensive collection…

4. Kolumba

0.23 MILES

Art, history, architecture and spirituality form a harmonious tapestry in this spectacular collection of the Archdiocese of Cologne's religious treasures…

5. Church of St Gereon

0.25 MILES

The most eccentric looking of Cologne's many Romanesque churches, St Gereon grew from a late-Roman chapel into this massive complex lidded by a 10-sided…

6. Roman Arch


This arch outside the Dom is a rare vestige of Cologne's ancient Roman city wall and once formed the northern gateway into the colony.

7. Käthe Kollwitz Museum

0.31 MILES

Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) was a famous early 20th-century German artist whose social and political awareness lent a tortured power to her lithographs,…

8. Kölner Dom

0.35 MILES

Cologne’s geographical and spiritual heart – and its single-biggest tourist draw – is the magnificent Kölner Dom. With its soaring twin spires, this is…