Cologne is Germany’s oldest and fourth largest city. It has a land area of 405.2 km² and a population of more than one million people. It is located in central western Germany at the Rhine River in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Romans founded Cologne in 38 BC, which then grew to become a cultural and a historical centre in the country, as well as a commercial port in Europe.
It is considered the most popular tourist attraction in the country. Well-known tourist spots include the Cologne Cathedral, Museum Ludwig, Old Town, and St. Gereon’s Church.
There were two old red light districts in Cologne, Im Stavenhof, and Kleine Brinkgasse. After being in business for 150 years, the districts were ordered to close. A dormitory for prostitutes was built with an aim to provide a safer work environment after the mandate for closure.
The authorities in Cologne cleaned up its former red light districts to give the girls a working environment away from the residential districts. They built Dirnenwohnheime, a dormitory for sex workers. It was called Eros Centre at that time it was built, and later changed its name to Pascha in 1995. This remains to be the largest brothel across the continent as of today.
Pascha and Das Bordell are close to each other. They are accessible from Museum Ludwig via Innere Kanalstraße. Two closest hotels are NH Köln-Mediapark (18-minute walk via Hornstraße) and Hotel Coellner Hof (21-minute walk via Innere Kanalstraße).
Cologne is generally safe but common crimes like pickpocketing occur in business district centres. It may have a small problem for petty crimes, but most visitors are reported to still feel safe within the city. Tourists are advised to take standard safety precautions and not to show actions that can get them into trouble. It is also best to follow the rules of the brothels when getting into one.
Prostitution is legal in Germany and Cologne offers a range of adult entertainment venues for both local and tourists. Strip clubs, erotic clubs, massage parlours, and brothels freely operate in the city. It also houses Pascha (located in Hornstrasse 2), the largest bordello in Europe, with 12 storeys. This brothel also has areas reserved for transsexual prostitutes.
Street prostitution is tolerated in special areas, and sex workers who provide this offer services in their own caravans. Meanwhile, others rent hotel rooms or use the clients’ vehicle. Cologne is well-known for Eros centres (Pascha and Das Bordell), established venues where sex workers can rent a single-room apartment for a day as they wait for their clients.
Geestemünder Straße is a special area known for street prostitution in Cologne. Women here have access to clean needles, showers, cafeteria, and even counselling. Pimps are not tolerated in the area and the parking spaces around the street have alarm buttons.
In most inner parts of the city, street prostitution is prohibited. The district ordinance, however, seems to be weak as reports suggest that there are women working around Eigelstein. Most of the streetwalkers are from Bulgaria and work in Eigelstein 42 to 52.
The window prostitution in the city is nothing like those seen in Amsterdam. In Cologne, prostitutes rent a room in Eros centres to solicit customers. Women do this from behind a window or from an open door. As prostitutes pay for the room rental, they set the prices on their own. The common range is 30 to 50 euros. Brothel owners do not gain profit from what the sex workers earn.
Brothels may be a more popular option for those wanting to have sex, but there are those who prefer swinging or swinger clubs. It is said that most swingers find other swingers through internet advertisement. There is, however, one listed venue ideal for meeting people who share the same sexual desires.
Germany legalised selling of sexual services in 2002. High-rise and multi-level brothels then became popular, attracting both locals and tourists from around the world. In fact, the sex industry has floursihed in the country, accounting for about 15 billion euros a year. Germany legalised prostitution to regulate the profession, recognise it as a job, and improve the conditions of sex workers.
With prostitution’s legalisation, sex workers could now register for health insurance, get a job contract, sue for payment, and have access to different employment benefits. The workers, however, need to pay income taxes, which vary depending on the area or state.
While operating a brothel is legal, pimping or admitting workers under 18 is illegal. This includes accepting them to a brothel and influencing those under 21 to pursue or continue to work as a prostitute. The Criminal Code of Germany, furthermore, notes that it is not legal to contract sex services for those younger than 18.
With regards to LGBT rights, the country allows registered partnership but it has not legalised sex marriage. It has decriminalised homosexual behaviour since 1969 and allowed Germans to change their name and gender (Transsexuals Act). Homosexuals can also serve openly in the army and employers cannot discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation.
Nightclubs, brew houses, and sophisticated bars are around the city, so there is no shortage of where to drink or party. Here are some of the best nightlife venues in Cologne:
Cologne is the gay and lesbian party capital of Germany. LGBT visitors are sure to find lots of gay bars, clubs, and cafes in the city. It is famous for its annual Cologne Gay Pride, which is one of the biggest events in Europe. Many of the popular gay bars are located near each other in Schaafenstrasse. Some gay saunas are also in this area.
Most of the gay venues in the city are found in two areas, Old Town (close to Heumarkt Station) and The Bermuda Triangle (close to Rudolfplatz Station). There are plenty of popular and long-running gay venues in these areas such as EXILE, ExCorner, COX Cologne, and a whole lot more.
Tourists can also enjoy a small gay scene in the northern part of the central city around Eberplatz. Many lesbians, along with their multisexual friends, hang around in Mathiasstraße’s Blue Lounge, featuring parties in a relaxing atmosphere.
Cologne is the LGBT capital of the country. Reports suggest that one in 10 inhabitants of the city is attracted to a person of the same gender. The abundance of gay and lesbian bars, clubs, restaurants, and other venues show how the city gives importance to the LGBT members. In fact, Cologne has recently opened a shelter for homosexual and transgender migrants.
The city has also one of the biggest gay communities in Germany and tourists can book a hotel near the Rhine River or Rudolfplatz for walking-distance gay bars, clubs, and other venues. Cologne cathedral (commonly known as Dom) is one of the best places to experience gay and lesbian hotspots. Its rear side is where tourists can find the stairs down to Rheingarten and see the Memorial for Gay and Lesbian Victims of Nazism.
Reports suggest that the majority of male sex workers in the city serve men (more than women). Pascha brothel has a dedicated floor for transgender and male prostitutes. Some of those who offer this type of service also advertise online.
Pascha, the continent’s biggest brothel, is the most popular place to find transsexual prostitutes. Those who want to avail services need to pay an entrance fee of five euros. The seventh floor is said to be reserved for transsexual sex workers.