The Römisch-Germanisches Museum (Romano-Germanic Museum) presents the archaeological heritage of the city and the surrounding area from the Palaeolithic period to the early Middle Ages. Among the oldest finds are the one hundred thousand year-old stone tools from the Kartstein cave in the Eifel. Finds from the Neolithic settlement of Cologne-Lindenthal, in which the earliest arable farmers of the Rhineland lived, are internationally well-known. Decorated architectural elements, stone inscriptions, portraits, wall-paintings, mosaics and exquisite tableware reflect life and luxury in Roman Cologne.
The museum has the worldwide biggest collection of Roman glass vessels. Among the most precious objects are the rich goldsmith works from the Diergardt Collection, relics of Germanic and equestrian nomad peoples from all over Europe. Precious burial goods from graves of the 5th to 7th centuries provide evidence of the lives of Romani and Franks in early medieval Cologne.
Built in 1974 in the centre of Cologne and in the immediate vicinity of Cologne Cathedral, it has so far welcomed more than 20 million visitors. The museum stands on the foundations of an urban Roman villa with the world-famous Dionysius mosaic. Like the monumental tomb of the veteran legionary Poblicius it can be admired from the cathedral square through a panorama window before the visitor enters the museum.
The museum is the office in charge of monument conservation and archaelological preservation in line with the regulations on the preservation of the cultural heritage of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia. Every year, several dozen excavations to preserve archaeological remains and prospections are carried out throughout the area of the city. The excavations are devoted to all the phases of the city’s cultural history: Palaeolithic relics, finds from the Neolithic, Iron and Bronze Age cultures, Roman and medieval finds and relics from the more recent past.
In addition, the Romano-Germanic Museum stewards more than one hundred archaeological monuments within the municipal area, among them the excavated remains of the Roman city wall, the excavations beneath St. Severin, the Roman gully in Berrenrather Straße and the Roman burial chamber in the Cologne district of Weiden.