Cologne lies on the River Rhine. The city's famous Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. The University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln) is one of Europe's oldest universities.
Cologne is a major cultural center of the Rhineland and has a vibrant arts scene. Cologne is home to more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local ancient Roman archeological sites to contemporary graphics and sculpture. The city's Trade Fair Grounds are host to a number of trade shows such as the Art Cologne Fair, the International Furniture Fair (IMM) and the Photokina. Cologne is also well-known for its celebration of Cologne Carnival, the annual reggae summerjam, the largest of its kind in Europe, and the LGBT festival Christopher Street Day (CSD).
Within Germany, Cologne is known as an important media center. Several radio and television stations, including Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), RTL and VOX (TV channel), are based in the city. The city also hosts the Cologne Comedy Festival, which is considered to be the largest comedy festival in mainland Europe.
According to local statistics, in 2006 the population density in the city was 2,528 inhabitants per square kilometer. 31.4 percent of the population has migrated there, and 17.2 percent of Cologne's population is non-German. The largest group, comprising 6.3 percent of the total population, is Turkish. As of September 2007, there are about 120,000 Muslims living in Cologne, mostly of Turkish origin .
In the city the population was spread out with 15.5% under the age of 18, 67.0% from 18 to 64 and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females there were 95 males.
The eleven tears are a reminder of Cologne's patron, Saint Ursula, a Britannic princess, and her legendary 11,000 virgin companions who were supposedly martyred by Attila the Hun at Cologne for their Christian faith in 383. The entourage of Ursula and the number of victims was significantly smaller; according to one source, the original legend referred to only eleven companions and the number was later inflated by relic traders.)
Cologne is also famous for Eau de Cologne (Kölnisch Wasser). At the beginning of the 18th century, Italian expatriate Johann Maria Farina (1685–1766) created a new fragrance and named it after his hometown Cologne, Eau de Cologne (Water of Cologne). In the course of the 18th century the fragrance became increasingly popular. Eventually, Cologne merchant Wilhelm Mülhens secured the name Farina, which at that time had become a household name for Eau de Cologne, under contract and opened a small factory at Cologne's Glockengasse. In later years, and under pressure from court battles, his grandson Ferdinand Mülhens chose a new name for the firm and their product. It was the house number that was given to the factory at Glockengasse during French occupation of the Rhineland in the early 19th century, number 4711. In 1994, the Mülhens family sold their company to German Wella corporation. In 2003 Procter & Gamble took over Wella. Today, original Eau de Cologne still is produced in Cologne by both the Farina family (Farina gegenüber since 1709), currently in the eighth generation, and by Mäurer & Wirtz who bought the 4711 brand in December 2006.
Maternus, who was elected as bishop in 313 AD, was the first known bishop of Cologne. The city was the capital of a Roman province until occupied by the Franks in 459 AD. In 785A D, Cologne became the seat of an archbishopric.
During the time of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, the Archbishop of Cologne was one of the seven prince-electors and one of the three ecclesiastical electors. The archbishops had ruled large temporal domains but in 1288 Sigfried II von Westerburg was defeated in the Battle of Worringen and forced into exile at Bonn.
Cologne's location on the river Rhine placed it at the intersection of the major trade routes between east and west and was the basis of Cologne's growth. Cologne was a member of the Hanseatic League and became a Free Imperial City in 1475. Interestingly the archbishop nevertheless preserved the right of capital punishment. Thus, the municipal council (though in strict political opposition towards the archbishop) depended upon him in all matters concerning criminal jurisdiction. This included torture, which sentence was only allowed to be handed down by the episcopal judge, the so-called "Greve". This legal situation lasted until the French conquest of Cologne.
Besides its economic and political significance Cologne also became an outstanding centre of medieval pilgrimage, when Cologne's Archbishop Rainald of Dassel gave the relics of the Three Wise Men to Cologne's cathedral in 1164 (after they in fact had been captured from Milan). Besides the three magi Cologne preserves the relics of Saint Ursula and Albertus Magnus.
The economic structures of medieval and early modern Cologne were characterized by the city's status as a major harbor and transport hub upon the Rhine. Craftsmanship was organized by self-administrating guilds, some of which were exclusive to women.
As a free city Cologne was a sovereign state within the Holy Roman Empire and as such had the right (and obligation) of maintaining its own military force. Wearing a red uniform these troops were known as the Rote Funken (red sparks). These soldiers were part of the Army of the Holy Roman Empire ("Reichskontingent") and fought in the wars of the 17th and 18th century, including the wars against revolutionary France, when the small force almost completely perished in combat. The tradition of these troops is preserved as a military persiflage by Cologne's most outstanding carnival society, the Rote Funken.
The free city of Cologne must not be confused with the Archbishopric of Cologne which was a state of its own within the Holy Roman Empire. Since the second half of the 16th century the archbishops were taken from the Bavarian dynasty Wittelsbach. Due to the free status of Cologne, the archbishops usually were not allowed to enter the city. Thus they took residence in Bonn and later in Brühl on Rhine. As members of an influential and powerful family and supported by their outstanding status as electors, the archbishops of Cologne repeatedly challenged and threatened the free status of Cologne during the 17th and 18th century, resulting in complicated affairs, which were handled by diplomatic means and propaganda as well as by the supreme courts of the Holy Roman Empire.
The permanent tensions between the Roman Catholic Rhineland and the overwhelmingly Protestant Prussian state repeatedly escalated with Cologne being in the focus of the conflict. In 1837 the archbishop of Cologne, Clemens August von Droste-Vischering, was arrested and imprisoned for two years after a dispute over the legal status of marriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics Mischehenstreit). In 1874 during the Kulturkampf, ArchbishopPaul Melchers was imprisoned before taking refuge in the Netherlands. These conflicts alienated the Catholic population from Berlin and contributed to a deeply felt anti-Prussian resentment, which was still significant after World War II, when the former mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, became the first West German chancellor.
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Cologne absorbed numerous surrounding towns, and by World War I had already grown to 700,000 inhabitants. Industrialization changed the city and spurred its growth. Vehicle and engine manufacturing were especially successful, though heavy industry was less ubiquitous than in the Ruhr area. The cathedral, started in 1248 but abandoned around 1560, was eventually finished in 1880 not just as a place of worship but also as a German national monument celebrating the newly founded German empire and the continuity of the German nation since the Middle Ages. Some of this urban growth happened at the expense of the city's historic heritage with much being demolished (e.g. the city walls or in the area around the cathedral) and sometimes replaced by contemporary constructions. On the other hand, Cologne was turned into a heavily armed fortress (opposing the French and Belgian fortresses of Verdun and Liège) with two fortified belts surrounding the city, the relics of which can be seen to this day. The military demands on what became Germany's largest fortress presented a significant obstacle to urban development, with forts, bunkers and wide defensive dugouts completely encircling the city and preventing expansion; this resulted in a very dense built-up area within the city itself.
After WWI, during which several minor air raids had targeted the city, Cologne was occupied by British Forces untile 1926 under the terms of the armistice and the subsequent Versailles Peace Treaty. In contrast to the harsh measures of French occupation troops in the Rhineland, the British acted with more tact towards the local population. The mayor of Cologne (the future West German chancellor) Konrad Adenauer acknowledged the political significance of this approach, as the British opposed French plans for a permanent Allied occupation of the Rhineland. In 1919 the University of Cologne (closed by the French in 1798) was refounded. It was meant as a substitute for the German University of Strasbourg tha had become French in 1918-19. During the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) Cologne prospered under the guidance of Mayor Adenauer, with improvements especially in public governance, housing, planning and social affairs. Large public parks were created, in particular the two Grüngürtel (green belts), which were planned on the areas of the former fortifications, which had to be dismantled as part of the de-militarization of the Rhineland imposed by the peace treaty (this project was not completed until 1933). New social housing was held up as an example for other German cities. As Cologne competed for hosting the Olympics a modern stadium was erected in Müngersdorf. By the end of the British occupation, German civil aviation was readmitted over Cologne and the airport of Butzweilerhof soon became a hub for national and international air traffic, second in Germany only to Berlin-Tempelhof. By 1939 the population had risen to 772,221. Compared to other major cities the Nazis did not gain decisive support in Cologne and the number of votes cast for the NSDAP in Reichstag elections was always below the national average.
During World War II, Köln was a Military Area Command Headquarters (Militärische Bereich Befehl Hauptsitze) for Military District (Wehrkreis) VI in Münster. Cologne was under the command of Lieutenant-General Freiherr Roeder von Diersburg, who was responsible for military operations at Bonn, Siegburg, Aachen, Jülich, Düren, and Monschau. Cologne was the Home Station for the 211th Infantry Regiment and the 26th Artillery Regiment. |
In World War II, Cologne endured exactly 262 air raids by the Western Allies, which caused approximately 20,000 civilian casualties and completely wiped out the center of the city. During the night of 31 May 1942, Cologne was the site of "Operation Millennium", the first 1,000 bomber raid by the Royal Air Force in World War II. 1,046 heavy bombers attacked their target with 1,455 tons of explosive. This raid lasted about 75 minutes, destroyed of built-up area, killed 486 civilians and made 59,000 people homeless. By the end of the war, the population of Cologne was reduced by 95%. This loss was mainly caused by a massive evacuation of the people to more rural areas. The same happened in many other German cities in the last two years of war. At the end of 1945, the population had already risen to about 500,000 again.
By that time, essentially all of Cologne's pre-war Jewish population of 20,000 had gone. The synagogue, originally built between 1895 and 1899 by architects Wilhelm Schreiterer and Bernhard Below, was severely damaged during the pogrom of 9 November 1938 (Kristallnacht) but ultimately destroyed by Allied bombing between 1943 and 1945. It was reconstructed in the 1950s. The Cologne synagogue was the site of an historic visit in 2005 by the German-born Pope Benedict XVI, only the second Pope to ever visit a synagogue.
Despite Cologne's status of being the largest city in the region, nearby Düsseldorf was chosen as the political capital of the Federal State North Rhine-Westphalia. With Bonn being chosen as the provisional capital (provisorische Bundeshauptstadt) and seat of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, Cologne benefited by being sandwiched between the two important political centers of the former West Germany. The city became home to a large number of Federal agencies and organizations. After re-unification in 1990 Berlin was made the Federal capital of Germany.
For Cologne mayors refer to the list of mayors of Cologne.
In 1945 architect and urban planner Rudolf Schwarz called Cologne the "world's greatest heap of debris". Schwarz designed the master plan of reconstruction in 1947, which called for the construction of several new thoroughfares thru the downtown area, especially the Nord-Süd-Fahrt ("North-South-Drive"). The masterplan took into consideration the fact that even shortly after the war a large increase in automobile traffic could be anticipated. Plans for new roads had already to a certain degree evolved under the Nazi administration, but the actual construction became easier in times when the majority of downtown lots were undeveloped. The destruction of famous Romanesque churches like St. Gereon, Great St. Martin, St. Maria im Capitol and about a dozen others in World War II meant a tremendous loss of cultural substance to the city. The rebuilding of those churches and other landmarks like the Gürzenich event hall was not undisputed among leading architects and art historians at that time, but in most cases, civil intention prevailed. The reconstruction lasted until the 1990s, when Romanesque church of St. Kunibert was finished.
It took some time to rebuild the city. In 1959 the city's population reached pre-war numbers again. It then grew steadily, exceeding 1 million for about one year from 1975. It has remained just below that since.
In the 1980s and 1990s Cologne's economy prospered for two main reasons. Firstly, a growth in the number of media companies, both in the private and public sectors; they are especially catered for in the newly-developed Media Park, which creates a strongly visual focal point in down-town Cologne and includes the KölnTurm, one of Cologne's most prominent high-rises. Secondly, a permanent improvement of the diverse traffic infrastructure made Cologne one of the most easily accessible metropolitan areas in Central Europe.
Due to the economic success of the Cologne Trade Fair, the city arranged a large extension to the fair site in 2005. At the same time the original buildings, which date back to the 1920s are rented out to RTL, Germany's largest private broadcaster, as their new corporate headquarters.
Road building had been a major issue in the 1920s under the leadership of mayor Konrad Adenauer. The first German limited access road was constructed after 1929 between Cologne and Bonn. Today, this is A 555. In 1965 Cologne became the first German city to be fully encircled by a freeway belt. Roughly at the same time a downtown bypass freeway (Stadtautobahn) was planned, but only partially executed, due to opposition by environmental groups. The completed section became Bundesstraße ("Federal Road") B 55a which begins at the Zoobrücke ("Zoo Bridge") and meets with A 4 and A 3 at the interchange Cologne East. Nevertheless, it is referred to as Stadtautobahn by most locals. Fully accomplished in contrast was the Nord-Süd-Fahrt ("North-South-Drive"), a new four/six lane downtown thoroughfare, which had already been anticipated by planners like Fritz Schumacher in the 1920s. The last section south of Ebertplatz was completed in 1972.
In 2005 the first stretch of an eight-lane freeway in North Rhine-Westphalia was opened to traffic on Bundesautobahn 3, part of the eastern section of the freeway belt between the interchanges Cologne East and Heumar.
The Cologne city railway operated by Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe (KVB) is an extensive light rail system that is partially underground (referred to as U-Bahn) and serves Cologne and a number of neighboring cities. Nearby Bonn is linked by both the city railway and Deutsche Bahn trains, and occasional recreational boats on the Rhine. Düsseldorf is also linked by S-Bahn trains which are operated by Deutsche Bahn.
The city is also home of the hockey team Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks), in the highest hockey league in Germany, the DEL. They are based at the Lanxess Arena. Cologne's basketball team "Köln 99ers" competes in the Basketball Bundesliga.
An annual Cologne Marathon was started in 1997.