The fourth biggest city in Germany, with over one million inhabitants, Cologne (Köln in German) began life as a Roman colony or colonia (hence its name). Its location on the Rhine, at the heart of Germania, was key to its status as capital of the province. The city became a centre for worship, famous for the legend and cult of Santa Ursula, and built several splendid Romanesque churches, which survive today.
Cologne Travel, Rhein Tourism, Germany Tourist Attractions
By the Middle Ages, Cologne was one of the most important cities in the Holy Roman Empire and in 1248 work began on its mighty cathedral, designed to house the relics of the Three Wise Men. Known as the Dom (pronounced dome), it was once the world's tallest building and is arguably still the world's greatest Gothic edifice, attracting pilgrims from all over Europe, even though it was not to be completed for another six centuries. It is still Germany's most visited attraction. Kyoto
Cologne, Rhein, Germany
Begun in 1248 and completed in 1880, Cologne Cathedral is a celebration of the finest aspects of Gothic architecture with intricate detail and elaborate decoration. Its twin towers stand 157m (515ft) above the city, on the left bank of the Rhine, and made the cathedral the tallest structure in the world until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889.
The interior is equally impressive, with 14th-century stained glass, a resplendent choir, and a large gold shrine, considered a masterpiece of medieval goldwork. Remarkably the cathedral survived a total of 14 bomb raids during World War II and today visitors can climb the tower for superb views over Cologne and the Rhineland.
The city suffered terribly in WWII, losing most of its historic centre, and only a small proportion of the Altstadt, right by the river, survives, or has been reconstructed in its original form.
Modern day pilgrims come not only to the awe-inspiring Dom and Romanesque churches, but to the city's fine museums (featuring rich Roman remains and an important artistic heritage) and to sample the city's famous hospitality in its brewhouses (Cologne boasts more breweries than any other European city). Despite its strong religious background, Cologne has a reputation as a goodtime town and its Carnival is one of the biggest in Europe.