2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: European Geography

Coordinates: 50°57′N 6°58′E

Cologne (Köln)
Coat of arms of Cologne Location of Cologne in Germany

Country Germany
State North Rhine-Westphalia
Administrative region Cologne
District urban district
Population 986,168 source (June 2006)
Area 405.15 km²
Population density 2,434 / km²
Elevation 37-118 m
Coordinates 50°57′ N 6°58′ E
Postal code 50441-51149
Area code 0221
Licence plate code K
Mayor Fritz Schramma ( CDU)

Cologne (German: Köln  /kœln/; Kölsch: Kölle /ˈkœɫə/) is Germany's fourth-largest city after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, and is the largest city both in the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than 12 million inhabitants. It is one of the oldest cities in Germany, having been founded by the Romans in A.D. 50.

Cologne lies at the River Rhine and the city's world famous Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is seat to a Roman Catholic Archdiocese, just as important to the city as its specially brewed Kölsch beer. Cologne University is one of Europe's oldest universities and internationally renowned for its departments of economics and computer science.

Cologne is the economic and cultural capital of the Rhineland and has a vibrant and thriving art scene. Cologne counts over 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local Ancient Roman archaeological findings 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.

In 2005 Cologne hosted the 20th Roman Catholic World Youth Day with Pope Benedict XVI and one of the largest ever meetings of over a million participants.


The city covers an area of 405.15 km² (about 156 miles²), on both sides of the River Rhine. Cologne lies between 37.5 and 118.04 m above sea level. The city of Bonn lies 30 km to the south, and Düsseldorf lies 40 km to the north.


Cologne is the 4th most populous city in Germany, behind Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. As of June 30th 2006, Cologne's population was 986,168, using the German standard method of only counting persons whose primary residence (German: Hauptwohnsitz) was in the city. Notwithstanding, the city of Cologne also includes those with an auxiliary residence (German: Nebenwohnsitz), thus raising the figure to 1,023,101. This refers mainly to students, who retain their primary residence in their former hometown, while only claiming an auxiliary residence in Cologne. The population density was 2,434/km² (6,302/mi²). According to the local statistics, 313,386 people have a migration background . Twenty per cent of Cologne's population is non-German. Of those, 40% (or 8% of the total population) are Turkish.

In the city the population was spread out with 15.9% under the age of 18, 67.5% from 18 to 64 and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females there were 94.8 males.


Cologne is incorporated under the rule of the Gemeindeordnung Nordrhein-Westfalen (GO NRW) (Municipality Code of North Rhine-Westphalia). The city's administration is headed by a lord mayor and two mayors. Cologne is the only city in Germany with an explicit tax on prostitution which explains the city's relative open-mindedness towards sex businesses. See the article on prostitution in Germany for details.

The Coat of Arms of Cologne

The three crowns symbolize the Magi or Three Kings whose bones are said to be kept in a golden sarcophagus in Cologne Cathedral (see Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral). In 1164, Cologne's archbishop Rainald of Dassel brought the relics to the city, making it a major pilgrimage destination. This led to the design of the current cathedral as the predecessor was considered too small to accommodate the pilgrims.

The eleven flames are a reminder of Cologne's patron, St. 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 A.D. Very probably, the entourage of St. 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 traders in relics (cf. Glaube, Lüge, Hoffnung, Spiegel Online, June 8, 2006).


Cologne plays a paramount role in Germany's television industry. It is home to Westdeutscher Rundfunk ( WDR) - the biggest branch of ARD, the syndicate of German public broadcasters. Cologne is also home to the private broadcaster RTL, as well as a large number of smaller media, television and film production companies.

Cologne has a large gay community. The city is a stronghold of Germany's gay movement and harbours the headquarters of Germany's largest homosexual lobby group.

Cologne is well known for its beer, called Kölsch. Kölsch is also the name of the local dialect. This has led to the common joke that Kölsch is the only language you can drink.

One of Cologne's largest companies is the European headquarters of the Ford Motor Company with large administrative, technical and production departments.

Cologne is also famous for Eau de Cologne. 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 from 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. Today, original Eau de Cologne (German: Kölnisch Wasser) still is produced in Cologne by both the Farina family (Farina gegenüber since 1709), currently in the eighth generation, and by Procter & Gamble who took over Wella in 2003.


Roman Cologne

The first urban settlement on the grounds of what today is the centre of Cologne was Oppidum Ubiorum, which was founded in 38 B.C. by the germanic tribe Ubii. Cologne became acknowledged as a city by the Romans in 50 A.D. by the name of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (CCAA). In 310 Constantine built a bridge over the Rhine at Cologne.

Maternus, who was elected as bishop in 313 was the first known bishop of Cologne. In 785, Cologne became the seat of an archbishop.

Middle Ages

Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral
Ulrepforte city gate (MHG for "Potter's Gate"): part of the mediaeval city wall
Ulrepforte city gate ( MHG for "Potter's Gate"): part of the mediaeval city wall

During the time of the Holy Roman Empire the Archbishop of Cologne was one of the seven Electors and one of the three ecclesiastical electors. He ruled a large area as a secular lord in the Middle Ages, but in 1288 he was defeated in the battle of Worringen by the Cologne citizens and forced to move to Bonn. Cologne's location at the intersection of the river Rhine with one of the major trade routes between East and West was the basis of Cologne's growth. Cologne was a member of the Hanseatic League and became an Imperial Free City officially 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 Milano). 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 town's status as a major harbour and transportation hub upon the Rhine. Craftsmanship was organized by self-administrating guilds, some of which were exclusive to women.

As a free city Cologne was an estate 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, where 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 Archbishops of Cologne. The latter were an estate of their own within the body of 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 town. Thus they took residence in Bonn and later on 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.

19th and 20th century

Cologne lost its status as a free city during the French period. According to the Peace Treaty of Lunéville ( 1801) all the territories of the Holy Roman Empire on the left bank of the Rhine were officially incorporated into the French Republic (which already had occupied Cologne in 1798). Thus, this region later became part of Napoleon's Empire. Cologne was part of the French Département Roer (named after the River Roer, German: Rur) with Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) as its capital. The French modernised public life by introducing the Code Napoleon as civil code and removing the old elites from power, to cite two examples. The Code Napoleon was in use in the German territories on the left bank of the Rhine until the year 1900, when for the first time the German Empire passed a nationwide unique civil code (" Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch"). In 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, Cologne was made part of the kingdom of Prussia.

The permanent tensions between the 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 Catholics ("Mischehenstreit"). In 1874 during the Kulturkampf archbishop cardinal Paul Melchers was arrested and imprisoned. He fled to the Netherlands and was searched for like an ordinary criminal by a warrant of apprehension. 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 incorporated numerous surrounding towns, and by the time of World War I had already grown to 600,000 inhabitants. Industrialization changed the city and spurred its growth. Especially booming branches were vehicle construction and engine building. Heavy industry was less ubiquitous as opposed to the Ruhr Area. The cathedral, started in 1248 but abandoned around 1560, was eventually finished in 1880 not only as a religious building but also as a German national monument celebrating the newly founded German empire as well as the continuity of the German nation since the Middle Ages. Sometimes urban growth happened very much at the expense of the town's historic heritage with many buildings being broken down (e.g. the city walls or the surroundings of the cathedral) or replaced by contemporary constructions. On the other side Cologne was turned into a heavily armed fortress (opposing the French and Belgian fortresses of Verdun and Liège) with two fortified belts surrounding the town, the relics of which can be seen until today. The military demands of what finally turned out to be Germany's largest fortress meant a huge obstacle to urban development, as forts, bunkers and dugouts with a vast and plain shooting field before them completely encircled the town and prevented any expansion beyond the fortified line, resulting in a very dense built-up area within town itself.

After WWI, during which several minor air raids had targeted the city, Cologne was occupied by British Forces under the terms of the armistice and the subsequent Versailles Peace Treaty. The occupation lasted until 1926. In contrast to the harsh measures of French occupation troops in the Rhineland the British acted much more tactfully towards the local population. The mayor of Cologne (the future West German chancellor) Konrad Adenauer paid them respect for their political significance, as the British withstood the French ambitions for a permanent Allied occupation of the Rhineland. In 1919 the University of Cologne (which had been closed by the French in 1798) was refounded. It was meant as a substitute for the German University of Strasbourg which had become French in 1918/19. The era of the Weimar Republic ( 1919 - 1933) rendered very prolific for Cologne. Many improvements were made under the guidance of Mayor Konrad Adenauer, especially as far as public governance, housing, planning and social affairs are concerned. Large public parks were created, in particular the two "Grüngürtel" (green belts), which were planned on the areas of the former fortifications. They had been dismantled according to the de-militarization of the Rhineland under the terms of the peace treaty, albeit this project was unfinished until 1933. Public housing was executed in a way that it became exemplary all over Germany. As Cologne competed for hosting the Olympics a modern stadium was erected in Müngerdorf. By the end of the British occupation German civil aviation was readmitted over Cologne and the airport of Butzweilerhof soon became an outstanding hub of 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 didn't gain decisive support in Cologne and the votes casted for the NSDAP at the election for the Reichstag always accounted below the average result of the Reich.

World War II

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 Generalleutnant Freiherr Roeder von Diersburg, who was responsible for military operations at Bonn, Siegburg, Aachen, Julich, Duren, and Monschau. Cologne was the Home Station for the 211th Infantry Regiment and the 26th Artillery Regiment.

Devastation of Cologne in 1945
Devastation of Cologne in 1945

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 centre of the city. During the night of May 31, 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 600 acres 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, as was the same as 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 been annihilated. Some 11,000 are believed to have been murdered by the Nazis. The synagogue, originally built between 1895 and 1899 by architects Wilhelm Schreiterer and Bernhard Below, was severely damaged during the pogrom of November 9, 1938 ( Kristallnacht) and finally destroyed during Allied air raids between 1943 and 1945. It was reconstructed in the 1950s. The Cologne synagogue was the stage of a historic event in 2005, when the German-born pope Benedict XVI was the second pope ever to visit a synagogue.

Post-war Cologne

The Kölnturm (150 m)
The Kölnturm (150 m)
Chorweiler, a social housing development from the 1970's in the north of Cologne
Chorweiler, a social housing development from the 1970's in the north of Cologne

Despite Cologne's being the largest city in the region nearby Düsseldorf was chosen as the political capital of the newly set-up Federal State Nordrhein-Westfalen. With Bonn being chosen as the capital (German: Bundeshauptstadt) and seat of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, Cologne benefited by being sandwiched between the two important political centres of former West Germany. The city became home to a large number of Federal agencies and organisations. After re-unification in 1990 a new situation has been politically co-ordinated with the new Federal capital city of Berlin.

For Cologne mayors refer to: 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 through the downtown area, especially the 'Nord-Süd-Fahrt' (North-South-Drive). The Master plan 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 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. Afterwards the city grew steadily, and, in 1975, the number exceeded 1 million inhabitants for about one year. Since then, the number lingers slightly underneath.

In the 1980s and 1990s Cologne's economy prospered from two factors: First, the steady growth in the number of media companies, pertaining to both the private and the public sector. Catering especially to these companies is the newly developed Media Park, which creates a strongly visual focal point in downtown Cologne and includes the KölnTurm, one of Cologne's most prominent high-rises. And second, a permanent improvement of the diverse traffic infrastructure, which makes 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.


Cologne Cathedral with Hohenzollern Bridge
Cologne Cathedral with Hohenzollern Bridge
Cologne Cathedral at sunset
Cologne Cathedral at sunset
Great St. Martin Church
Great St. Martin Church

The centre of Cologne was completely destroyed during World War II. The reconstruction of the city followed the style of the 1950s, while respecting the old layout and naming of the streets. Thus, the city today is characterised by simple and modest post-war buildings, with few interspersed pre-war buildings which were reconstructed due to their historical importance. Some buildings of the "Wiederaufbauzeit" (era of reconstruction), for example the opera house by Wilhelm Riphahn, are nowadays regarded as classics in modern architecture. Nevertheless, the uncompromising style of the opera house and other modern buildings has remained controversial.

  • Cologne Cathedral (German: Kölner Dom) is the city's famous landmark and unofficial symbol. It is a Gothic church, started in 1248, and completed in 1880. In 1996, it was designated a World Heritage site; it claims to house the relics of the Three Magi. It is interesting to note, that the residents of Cologne call the cathedral "the eternal construction site". They predict that by the time the renovation of the building has finished the end of the world will be upon us!
  • Twelve Romanesque Churches: These buildings are outstanding examples of medieval sacral architecture. The roots of some of the churches date back as far as Roman times, like St. Gereon, which originally was a chapel on a Roman graveyard. With the exception of St. Maria Lyskirchen all of these churches were very badly damaged during World War II. Reconstruction was only finished in the 1990s.
  • Cologne University, with approx. 44,000 students as of 2005, is one of the largest universities in Germany.
  • Fragrance-Museum Farina House, the birthplace of Eau de Cologne.
  • Römisch-Germanisches Museum (English: Roman-Germanic Museum)
  • Wallraf-Richartz Museum
  • Museum Ludwig
  • EL-DE Haus the former local headquarters of the Gestapo houses a museum documenting the Nazi rule in Cologne with a special focus on the prosecution of political dissenters and minorities.
  • Kölner Philharmonie - the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra Building housing both the Gürzenich-Orchestra and the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne.
  • RheinEnergieStadion, the major Cologne stadium, primarily used for football games, seating 50,997 visitors in national games and 46,134 in international games, home to the local 2. Bundesliga team, 1.FC Köln, and to the local NFL Europe team, the Cologne Centurions.
  • Kölnarena, a multifunctional event hall, home to the local ice hockey team, the Kölner Haie (English: Cologne Sharks).
  • Kölnturm (English: Cologne Tower), Cologne's second tallest building at 150 metres in height, second only to the cathedral.
  • Colonius - a telecommunication tower with an observation deck.
  • Colonia-Hochhaus - Germany's tallest residential building.
  • Hansa-Hochhaus - designed by architect Jakob Koerfer and completed in 1925, it was at one time Europe's tallest office building.
  • Rheinseilbahn - an aerial tramway crossing the Rhine.
  • Messe Köln (English: Cologne Fair). Exhibition area of 100000m².
  • Messeturm Köln (English: Exhibition Tower Cologne).
  • Hohe Strasse (English: High Street) is one of the main shopping areas and extends past the cathedral in an approximately southerly direction. This street is particularly popular with tourists and contains many gift shops, clothing stores, fast food restaurants and electronic goods dealers.
  • Ford Motor Company plants, assembling the Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion as well as manufacturing engines and parts.
  • Schildergasse - extends the shopping area of Hohe Strasse to the west ending at Neumarkt.
  • Ehrenstrasse - the shopping area around Apostelnstrasse, Ehrenstrasse, and Rudolfplatz is a little more on the eccentric and stylish side.
  • Historic Ringe boulevards (such as Hohenzollernring, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring, Hansaring) with their medieval city gates (such as Hahnentorburg on Rudolfplatz) are also known for their night life.
  • German Sports & Olympic Museum, with expositions about sports from antiquity until the present.
  • Schokoladenmuseum (Chocolatemuseum) officially called Imhoff-Stollwerck-Museum.



Major roads through and around Cologne.
Major roads through and around Cologne.

Highway building has already been a mayor issue in the 1920s under the leadership of mayor Konrad Adenauer. The first German limited access highway 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 has 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 A 3, part of the eastern section of the freeway belt between the interchanges Cologne East and Heumar.

Public mass transportation

Underground light rail at Dom/Central Station
Underground light rail at Dom/Central Station
ICE3 at Cologne Central Station
ICE3 at Cologne Central Station

Cologne has Deutsche Bahn Service with Intercity and ICE-trains stopping at Köln Hauptbahnhof (Cologne Central Station), Köln-Deutz station and at Cologne Bonn Airport (Konrad-Adenauer-Airport). The Cologne Stadtbahn (Kölner-Verkehrs-Betriebe) (tram) operates an extensive light rail system (partially underground) serving Cologne and some neighbouring cities.

Air transport

Cologne's international airport is called Konrad-Adenauer-Flughafen. It is named after Germany's post-war Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, who was born in Cologne and was also mayor of the city from 1917 until 1933. The airport is shared with the neighbouring city of Bonn.


Since 1997 the city hosts the annual Cologne Marathon.

Sister cities

This is a list of cities which are " cultural pen pals" of Cologne, as well as the year they first established this relationship.

Born in Cologne

Famous people whose roots can be found in Cologne:

  • Adenauer, Konrad ( January 5, 1876 - April 19, 1967), politician, Mayor of Cologne from 1917 to 1933 and German Chancellor between 1949 and 1963
  • Blum, Robert ( November 10, 1807 - November 9, 1848), politician and martyr of the 19th century democratic movement in Germany
  • Böll, Heinrich ( December 21, 1917 - July 16, 1985), writer and winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1972
  • Calatrava, Alex ( June 14, 1973), Spanish professional tennis player
  • Ernst, Max ( April 2, 1891 - April 1, 1976), artist
  • Kier, Udo (born October 14, 1944), actor
  • Lauterbach, Heiner (born April 10, 1953), actor
  • Millowitsch, Willy ( January 8, 1909 - September 20, 1999), actor and playwright
  • Liebert, Ottmar (born February 1, 1961), musician
  • Offenbach, Jacques ( June 20, 1819 - October 5, 1880), composer
  • Raab, Stefan Konrad (born October 20, 1966), entertainer and comedian
  • Vondel, Joost van den ( November 17, 1587 - February 5, 1679), poet and playwright
  • Weimar, Robert (born May 13, 1932), legal scientist and psychologist

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