At least 100 protestors used whistles and shouts to try to drown out the speakers at the rally, who had arrived from around Europe to voice their opposition to the construction of a mosque in Cologne, and Islam in general.
Authorities said despite the large numbers of people, and the potential for violence, there were only a few minor incidents.
Cologne’s ruling mayor Fritz Schramma spoke at the main liberal rally, under the motto “Cologne stands in the way,” which had gathered church groups, mainstream political parties and trade unions.
He said Cologne was a city of tolerance and diversity and that it was an act of insolence and audacity for people to hold a racist event there.
The “Anti-Islamisation Congress” held under the banner Pro NRW, was surrounded by a strong police presence on the Barmerplatz.
The group’s first such rally last year was broken off after serious rioting developed on the edges with left-wingers clashing with police as they tried to disrupt proceedings.
A march through the Cologne city centre to the building site of the Ehrenfeld mosque by Pro NRW was banned by the Constitutional Court, which cited security concerns.
On Saturday evening, Schramma said he was happy with the way the day had gone, saying, “Cologne has delivered a clear and sovereign answer to all far-right extremists and agitators who believed they could conduct their cheap election campaign on the backs of foreigners here.”
He said the demonstrators had helped to “underpin the reputation of Cologne as a cosmopolitan, liberal and peace-loving city.”