Cologne (Köln) is Germany's fourth-largest city, and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants. Cologne is located on both sides of the Rhine River.
The first urban settlement on the grounds of what today is the centre of Cologne was Oppidum Ubiorum, which was founded in 38 BC by the Ubii, a Cisrhenian Germanic tribe. In 50 AD, the Romans founded Colonia on the Rhine and the city became the provincial capital of Germania Inferior in 85 AD. The city was named "Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium" in 50 AD. Considerable Roman remains can be found in present-day Cologne, especially near the wharf area, where a notable discovery of a 1900 year old Roman boat was made in late 2007. From 260 to 271 Cologne was the capital of the Gallic Empire under Postumus, Marius and Victorinus. In 310 under Constantine a bridge was built over the Rhine at Cologne. The imperial governors of Rome resided in the city and it became one of the most important trade and production centres in the Roman Empire north of the Alps.
|Hohenzollern Bridge and Cathedral|
Cologne is one of the most popular cities in Europe for shopping. The most popular shopping streets are Schildergasse and Hohe Straße. Those who like trendy boutiques should make a detour to nearby Ehrenstraße. There's also a wealth of shopping opportunities in the arcades in the city centre and along the Ring. Here you can shop till you drop in an ultramodern atmosphere — and fortify yourself afterward with exquisite local delicacies in one of the many lively coffee bars. Less well-known, but therefore all the cosier, is a shopping tour through the high streets of the individual neighbourhoods.
- Cologne Cathedral "Kölner Dom". The Kölner Dom is one of the architectural masterpieces of mankind, started in 1248, and completed in 1880. In 1996 it was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site as a perfect example of Gothic construction, the Cathedral is the symbol of the metropolis on the Rhine. And with about six million visitors a year, Germany's largest Cathedral is also the country's most popular architectural monument. Its size is emphasized by a gigantic pair of towers that dominated the city panorama since their completion in 1880. The cathedral houses the Shrine of the Three Kings that supposedly contains the relics of the Three Magi. Residents of Cologne sometimes refer to the cathedral as "the eternal construction site"
- The City Hall. is a historical building, located off Hohe Straße in the district of Innenstadt, set between the two squares of Rathausplatz and Alter Markt. It houses part of the city government, including the city council and offices of the Lord Mayor. It is Germany's oldest city hall with a documented history spanning some 900 years. The history of its council during the 11th century is a prominent example for self-gained municipal autonomy of Medieval cities. Today's building complex consists of several structures, added successively in varying architectural styles: they include the 14th century historic town hall, the 15th century Gothic style tower, the 16th century Renaissance style loggia and cloister (the Löwenhof), and the 20th century Modern Movement atrium (the Piazzetta).
- The Hohenzollern Bridge Originally, the bridge was both a railway and street bridge, however, after its destruction in 1945 and its subsequent reconstruction, it was only accessible to rail and pedestrian traffic. It is the most heavily used railway bridge in Germany, connecting the Köln Hauptbahnhof and Köln Messe/Deutz stations with each other. The bridge was constructed between 1907 and 1911 after the old bridge, the Cathedral Bridge (Dombrücke), was demolished. The Cathedral Bridge was unable to handle the increasing traffic in Cologne. It was named after the House of Hohenzollern.
The Hohenzollern Bridge was one of the most important bridges in Germany during World War II; even under consistent daily airstrikes the bridge was not badly damaged. On 6 March 1945, German military engineers blew up the bridge when Allied troops began their assault on Cologne. After the war, reconstruction was quickly organized; by 8 May 1948, the Hohenzollern Bridge was accessible by pedestrians again. Over the next eleven years the bridge was improved until by 1959 it was usable without any impairment. During the 1980s, the bridge was renovated with two new tracks. The Hohenzollern Bridge now regularly has over 1200 trains pass through daily. The bridge is regarded as an important part of Cologne as it connects Cologne's central station with major European cities on the other side of the Rhine.
- The Heumarkt ("Hay Market") is one of the biggest squares in the center of Cologne and the place where everything happens. In the middle ages this was the place where hay for the horses and other commodities were traded. The buildings and roads surrounding and on the square have changed repeatedly to adapt to the changing requirements. A car park under the square was completed in 2001. The entrances are in two glass buildings on the edge of the square. The Heumarkt is a location for cultural festivities like open-air concerts, carnival events, wine festivals and christmas fairs.