20 years of the Gürzenich Köln events centre under the direction of KölnKongress

On 17th September 2017, the Gürzenich Köln will be celebrating its 20th anniversary following its most recent general renovation. In its anniversary year, KölnKongress can look back on a successful 20 years of events with around 3.4 million visitors at more than 4,800 events. In addition, a new start has been made in the historical Gürzenich: since 1st April 2017, KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH has been responsible for providing catering for guests.

The historic Gürzenich Köln is one of the oldest and most prestigious of Germany's events centres located in the heart of Cologne. The tradition of the Gürzenich dates back to the 15th century, and the design of its interiors has been adapted to contemporary tastes and ever new requirements several times in the 570-year history of the building.


The Gürzenich was originally built between 1441 and 1447. It served as a civic market and was used for festivities by emperors and citizens. In the 19th century the Gürzenich advanced to become the most important and popular venue for events in Cologne. The first Carnival ball was organized in the Gürzenich as early as 1824. As a result of the lack of space, the Gürzenich was reconstructed for the first time between 1853 and 1855 and extended to include the neo-gothic extension with stairwell and the Isabellensaal. From 1857 the Cölner Concert-Society organized the concert programmes of the Gürzenich-Orchestra in the Gürzenich. In 1943 the Gürzenich suffered serious damage during the bombing.

Only the enclosing walls were preserved. Following six years of construction work, the Gürzenich was officially reopened in October 1955. When the Gürzenich-Orchestra moved into the newly opened Philharmonie in 1986, a further programme of reconstruction was necessary. It became necessary to find new areas of use for the Gürzenich. KölnKongress GmbH, which was specially founded in 1994, took over the management of the event centre. Shortly afterwards, this was followed by the restoration, modernization and extension between 1996 and 1997, under the building management of the Cologne architect Kaspar Kraemer, with the substantial preservation and conservational treatment of the listed historic building.


On 17th September 1997, KölnKongress opened a modern and attractive event centre: historical architectural styles are blended harmoniously with the latest event technology and event culture of the very highest standard. KölnKongress regularly modernizes the technology in accordance with the latest standards in order to be able to offer organizers and guests the best possible conditions for their events. For example, in the course of the most recent modernization measures in 2016/17, the public address system was renewed and an electronic visitor guidance system was installed. In addition, KölnKongress attaches great importance to preserving the historical substance of the listed building through continuous professional maintenance and renovation work.


Since 1997, 3.4 million visitors have attended more than 4,800 events at the Gürzenich Köln, which consist of congresses, official ceremonies, social events, exhibitions and markets  as well as concerts and cultural events.

The G7 / G8 summit meetings held in June 1999, were undoubtedly the highlight in the long list of events, during which the Gürzenich was the centre of international interest for a total of eight days.

As in the past, the Gürzenich has lost none of its long-standing tradition as the festival hall for and of the citizens of Cologne. It always was, and still remains,  Cologne's "front parlour".
In recent years, however, the Gürzenich has also established itself as a venue for high-ranking national and international congresses and conferences in the scientific and medical fields. For example, in September 2016, the 10th International Hodgkin Symposium took place in the Gürzenich, the world's largest international interdisciplinary conference focusing on Hodgkin's lymphoma. In 2018, the Symposium will be held for the fourth time in succession in the Gürzenich.

In recent months no less than three scientific congresses with international guests have taken place:
Euromit 2017, organized by the Cluster of Excellence CECAD of the University of Cologne, with more than 600 leading international scientists. This was followed by the 14th European ISSX Meeting with more than 600 members from over 45 countries, both from academic research and industry, who are exploring the effects of drugs and chemicals on organisms.
The Society of German Chemists organized the 20th European Symposium on Organic Chemistry (ESOC), which is a biennial event where renowned experts from science and industry hold lectures and scientists from Europe and other parts of the world come across the broad field of organic chemistry.


Organizers and guests appreciate the optimal conditions of the Gürzenich: six characteristic rooms of different sizes, a large plenum, several conference rooms and spacious foyers for accompanying exhibitions with exhibition space of 2,500 square metres, provide an ideal setting for the most diverse events. And last but not least, the location in the heart of Cologne is an advantage for the location of the Gürzenich.


"The Gürzenich, with its 570-year history as a festival house, has a firm place in Cologne's history for the people of Cologne. Therefore, it is a bonus for the image of the City of Cologne, when national and international guests as well as event organizers really feel at home in the Gürzenich. Certainly this is thanks to the historical building and its special architecture, because it provides a stylish setting for every kind of event. But also the excellent support provided by KölnKongress GmbH, for whom hospitality is very close to its heart", according to Bernd Petelkau, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of KölnKongress GmbH.


In this connection, it becomes clear that the entrepreneurial decision was correct, with its own subsidiary, KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH, founded in September 2016, to take over the catering business from the former operator, Jochen Blatzheim. Following 60 successful years with Gürzenich Gastronomie- and Party-Service GmbH, he finished his work at Gürzenich as of March 31, 2017.

Partners in the new KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH., are KölnKongress GmbH with a holding of 51% and Koelnmesse GmbH with 49%.

Since 1st April 2017 KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH has been an exclusive partner in the Gürzenich and responsible for all culinary matters on behalf of the event organizers and guests. Managing Director Bernhard Conin and Business Unit Manager Stephan Förster can look back on a successful and exciting first five months together. "It was an uncomplicated transition, which was certainly due to the fact that it was possible to take over all the experienced employees. We are delighted about this continuity in the Gürzenich, as well as about the innovations which KölnKongress Gastronomie GmbH is introducing into the location with its great tradition", says Bernhard Conin. The new catering concept follows the Gürzenich motto "Tradition meets Modern" and is based on regional and seasonal products - proven high quality is being complemented by creativity, sustainability and new trends.

Looking back on 20 years of Gürzenich Köln under the management of KölnKongress, Bernhard Conin takes stock: "The Gürzenich has lost none of its appeal. On the contrary, the combination of the historical representative building with the latest technology and culinary delights, make the listed Gürzenich an attractive location, which is known beyond the borders of Cologne and Germany. We can look back on a very successful 20 years and also look forward with great expectations to the future".

KölnKongress GmbH is Cologne's largest provider of event venues. In eight exceptional locations in the Cologne's city centre with more than 60 rooms, KölnKongress annually welcomes over 1 million visitors to more than 2,000 events.

In addition to the Congress Centrum Koelnmesse, the Flora Köln, the Gürzenich Köln, the Tanzbrunnen Köln with its theatre, the Rheinterrassen and the km 689 Beach Club are part of the portfolio offered. The Bastei and the ZooLocation are also included.