Cologne's reputational heyday came during the division of Germany, when it became the centre of the West German art market, with Art Cologne, the world's oldest commercial art fair, a highlight every year.
But after the fall of the Berlin Wall, all eyes shifted to the country's new capital and have scarcely looked back since.
Despite this sudden usurpation, Cologne still remains a hub of creativity with a rich emerging cultural scene joining established old favourites.
Here is my quick overview of the places where you'll find some of the most beautiful art (and most clued-in culture vultures):
Cologne's answer to The Tate Modern or MoMa, Museum Ludwig represents the most important trends in art from the beginning of the 20th century to today. It is home to one of the largest collections of Pop Art in Europe and its dynamic program offers internationally-acclaimed exhibitions, regular lectures and a weekly film forum.
2. Gerhard Richter in Cologne Cathedral
Cologne's Gothic cathedral houses a huge work from Germany's most famous living artist: Gerhard Richter. In 2003, Richter was chosen to re-design the cathedral's south-facing stained glass window.
The result is an impressive 113-metres squared abstract collage of 11,500 pixel-like glass squares in 72 colours that has to be seen to be believed.
3. Ebertplatz Passage
For the last few years, this relatively run-down area has striven to draw in a different crowd through the offering of arts and cultural events.
With underground concerts, buzzing parties and a feel for Cologne's independent art-scene, Ebertplatz is where it's at.
Since 2014 Temporary Gallery art hall has received city funding as a New Centre for Contemporary Art in Cologne. It regularly invites international curators and researchers for co-operative projects and offers a diverse range of shows and events which, explore and encourage the debate around contemporary art today.
5. King Georg
Formerly a house of ill repute, King Georg was taken over in 2008 and turned into a bar and concert venue.
Whilst its low-lit interior and leather-bolstered bar maintain a sense of smutty charm, the place has quickly become one of the city's best-loved hangouts.
A packed line-up of independent bands and local DJs make it the perfect spot to drink and dance the night away.
If it's international DJs that you're looking for, then head to Gewölbe.
As well as having good connections to Cologne's own Kompakt label, the club offers a consistent programme featuring top electronic acts from across the globe.
This unofficial party venue is the best spot in Cologne for underground techno.
It's home to DJ Claus Bachor's, legendary ‘Psycho Thrill' parties which have been providing Cologne partygoers with the grittiest sounds in techno & house since 1991.
Ask a local for directions.
The Cologne School of Music and Dance, offers a busy programme of contemporary dance shows and modern classical music concerts which are given regularly by both students and touring musicians.
It's an ideal venue to experience the latest shifts in modern music and dance.
„Buchhandlung Walther König Köln (0637-39)“ by © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons).
First founded in Cologne in 1968, Walther König Book Store has a long-standing connection to the Cologne art scene.
Nowadays an international brand, the Cologne branch is still the best place in the city for affordable books on contemporary art and culture.
10. Van Dyck Coffee
Visited my favorite #roaster in Cologne! #vandyckkaffee - if you find yourself in #Ehrenfeld or Cologne it is worth a stay. If it's the exquisite #coffeebeans or the dazzling #cake Also got myself a nice #mexican bean which I will use for a nice #coldbrew this afternoon. #coffeelove #VanDyck #coffee #specialbeans
This award-winning coffee bar and roastery is Cologne's response to the third-wave caffeine hype. Head here for flawless flat whites, made from a selection of in-store roasted beans.
SEE ALSO: What's so great about... Cologne?