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Tag Archives: cologne

I enjoy visiting bookstores.

Several posts here are dedicated to the bookstores I have visited in other cities. For example, MIT Press bookstore in Boston and Livraria Cultura in Iguatemi, Saõ Paulo. This is my second post on a bookstore in Köln. The first one on Siebter Himmel is here.

Warning: there are only photos of books here, stacks and stacks of them !



This bookstore simply named Büchermarkt (book market) occupies at least three floors of this brick building on Breite Straße 79 , 50667 Cologne.




It may very well be a chain store and I just went to one of its branches. But this is one with the largest collection of art books I have seen recently. Very cramped and stocked with many different titles.




Near the entrance, they have the new and discounted books including many of the coffee table tomes put out by Taschen and Phaidon.





And then it is just wall-to-wall books. From fashion to fine art to film.




Even more liberal art and cultural books upstairs. I read somewhere that Cologne produces most of the TV shows of Germany. There is probably a sizable population of media types to keep such a bookstore alive.





There is a “balcony” where the two floors are connected by a double height space.




Without this double height space, it can feel very claustrophobic.




There is another floor… a narrow wooden staircase leading up …  I have found the out-of-print section. There are some Artists’ books (Künstlerbücher) on display here.




There was a desk and a storekeeper at the top who asked me to leave my bag at the entrance. This place really felt like a library – the smell of old books. There were no price tags on the books here.




Art books are full of pictures. I can spend days in here even I do not read German.


I visited two very different bookstores in Cologne. Located in the Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel), see our earlier post about the area here.

Siebter Himmel means Seventh Heaven.


It was quite a surprising discovery since I had no idea of what it was supposed to be when I first walked in.


Is it a bookstore, a gift shop or … ? Well, a bookstore and lifestyle/design store.



According to their web site here :

 Our book and Design Shop “Seventh Heaven” was born from the belief that book and design can be connected to a special shopping experience. In a total of seven themed worlds, we satisfy your curiosity about unusual products, your right to quality and your desire for personal recommendations. … Expect the unexpected. Let yourself be inspired. Welcome to the “Seventh Heaven”.



It is a small shop with a deep and narrow footprint but they have managed to create several distinctive spaces within it. Quite a feat.

7heaven-9Mannequin on a swing !



Most of the books are in German.


They further subdivided into thrillers into political, nordic and regional.


Siebter Himmel is one of the best lifestyle-themed bookstore I have seen.


Glad that they did not have a coffee bar inside, just because every other bookstore already has one.


They sell clothings and music as well as design objects.


Every city should at least have one such bookstore !  See my earlier posts on some bookstores in Sao Paulo here  and here.


My next post is on a more traditional bookstore, also in Köln.


Continuing with my exploration of the Belgian quarter of Cologne (see earlier post here), I came across this unusual combination of enterprises on Brüsseler Strasse 74-76.


The shop floor is divided into two halves, the front is a laundromat while the back is a retail store.


The two businesses share the same entrance.


So one pass the washing machines and dryers before getting into the skateboard and street wear shop.


This combination makes a lot of sense. I am not sure if they are both owned by the same business Rock On but their web site is here.


While the customers are waiting for laundry, they can peruse the merchandise of the store. The demogrpahics also make sense in that those who use a laundromat are likely to be interested in skateboard and paraphenalia.


There is also a waiting area near the entrance where one can ignore the retail activities in the back. One can read the papers and pick up leaflets for concerts and parties here.


But could the arrangement of the two businesses be reversed and give more exposure to the retail shop ?  Just like supermarkets that place eggs and milk, the necessities in the corner furtherest from the entrance.

belgian quarter-1


I (Chris) wanted to visit Köln because it is another big city in Germany (No.4 by population). I liked Berlin (No. 1) and Munich (No. 3) and wanted to see more urban life in Germany. You will see it in the next few posts.

Köln is a very compact cityas far as tourists are concerned, because most of the sights are clustered around the main train station and the cathedral (Dom). The train station and the Dom are both next to a bridge that crosses the Rhine.


belgian quarter-5


Here’s my theory: Köln is big enough of a city where a critical mass of like-minded people congregate to form a neighborhood with a distinct identity/culture.  New York has enough people to support many such neighborhoods – e.g., East village, Astoria, Harlem, etc. Alright, I sound too serious or am just stating the obvious here.


belgian quarter-16


Any way, Cologne has the Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel) which is situated within the inner city boundary and within walking distance from the main streets and pedestrianized shopping areas (on the other side of the Hohenzollering).


belgian quarter-11


The best way to characterize the area is that it is the Greenwich Village of Cologne. Brüsseler and Antwerpener strasses.


belgian quarter-14


At the heart of the Belgian Quarter is the Brüsseler Platz, or Brussels Square, dominated by St Michael’s Church, built around 1910.


belgian quarter-12


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Here are some of the businesses in the area.

Madam Miammiam cakeshop

belgian quarter-13

Monsieur Courbet record shop

belgian quarter-10

RockOn cafe (?)

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One of the main streets of Köin – Aachener strasse – forms the southern border of this neighborhood and is lined with restaurants.


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I had lunch here. Herr Pimock – bar food, friendly, casual.


belgian quarter-2


Filmkunst 27 is probably the best looking video rental shop I have visited. Initially I thought they sell Apple products and software but no …

Did rental service not disappear a decade ago?  This shop seems to specialize in hard-to-find, cult movies – all titles are sorted by the movie director and grouped according to the country of origin.


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This cafe (Salon Schmitz) and its sister eatery (Metzgerei Schmitz) next door on Aachener strasse are best known for the ambience, the artists and the art it showcases.

belgian quarter-4


I had dinner here – on the edge of the Belgian Quarter – Colina at Flandrische strasse, the steaks are recommendable.


belgian quarter-7


More pictures about the shops in the area to come.

During one of the long weekends in May 2014, I (Chris) visited Cologne (Köln), Germany.


Cologne, situated on the Rhine in the North-Rhine Westphalia region, the 2000 year old city is world famous for its cathedral – it is the largest church in Germany. The main train station (Hauptbanhof) is located right next to it – architecturally setting up a clash of the modern against the medieval.


Construction started in 1248 and this gothic masterpiece was completed 600 years later, in 1880, according to its original plan. The Sagrada Familia basilica of Barcelona only took 130 years so far and is still a work-in-progress – see our blog post here about that famous church.




There are volumes written about this church so I would not say much here … the cathedral also has an excellent web site providing virtual tours, click here.


The “swallow’s nest” organ, installed in 1998, was suspended from the ceiling above the nave by steel wires.


Aisles on either side




Gerhard Richter designed these windows according to the colors of the older stained glass.




Shrine of the Magi (three kings) – the relics were brought to Cologne from Milan in 1164. From about 1190 to 1220 a number of artisans worked on the shrine in the workshop of the goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun and in workshops in Cologne. The photo below does not do justice to the artistic and religious significance of the piece.


Altar-piece of the city’s patron saints in the Lady Chapel, painted around 1441. Mass is said in the Lady Chapel every day, this altar-piece is in daily liturgical use.


Transept and crossing





According to the website, “the cycle of angels depicted in the spandrels of the arcades in the high choir was executed by the Late Nazarene painter Edward von Steinle between 1843 and 1845 using a fresco technique on a gold background. “, replacing 14th century fresco that was deemed too damaged to be restored.




One can climb stairs to reach the roof where I can imagine great views of the city and the Rhine. But the long line of people waiting to go and the number of steps deterred me.

A true masterpiece landmark.

How does it compared with the Duomo in Milano ? See our blog post here on the Duomo.