Originally Posted by Anders Franzén
Funny, we had this discussion at work some days ago and Cologne was brought up as unusually ugly. The reason is supposedly because Cologne was not bombed much during WWII. Other German cities are prettier because they were built up with that purpose after being bombed. Cologne has been rebuilt over a longer period of time without any plan of being charming.
I was just 11 years old when I visited Cologne, so I definitely owe it another visit.
I don't think Cologne's postwar rebuilding was vastly different than that of other German cities. Basically every German city was destroyed, and then quickly rebuilt, in the 1950's and 1960's style, so German cities tend to be bland or even ugly compared to their French, Dutch, or Belgian equivalents.
But Cologne, for whatever reason, seems to have almost nothing of historical value. Most cities at least attempted some half-assed reconstruction of a block here or there, but in Cologne, there's practically nothing besides some restored churches.
I can't think of a major German city that is particularly pretty. I guess Munich or Nuremberg would be the nicest, at least in their cores? There are some smaller cities that weren't totally wiped out (say Heidelberg) but I think all the biggies were basically starting from scratch. Cologne, Mannheim and the Ruhr cities, in particular, really got hit with the ugly stick, IMO (though all are vibrant and somewhat interesting). They were all big industrial centers so naturally got flattened.