Klingelpützpark today is a pleasant inner-city park near the train station, with a basketball court, a skate area and plenty of grass for a quick lie-down or sunbathing if the weather allows. Nearby is a preserved part of the medieval city wall complete with mill tower – but the interesting history of the place is best viewed when looking down from the small information board north of the basketball court. Here you can see that the park was built in 1969 on the grounds of the former city prison, the Klingelpütz.
Erected in 1838 as a city prison in star-shape (allowing the wardens to observe the prisoners in all four wings from a central building), it was taken over by the Nazis after 1933 as the central place of execution for the Rhineland. Over 1,000 people were executed here before 1945, when the remaining political prisoners were liberated by the American forces.
Partially because of this tainted history, partially because a new prison had been erected in Ossendorf on the outskirts of Cologne, the old prison was demolished and the park built – with a memorial stone erected to honour the former prisoners. And a park is always better than a prison, in my opinion.