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Cologne Germany — Historical Facts

Cologne Germany — do you know of the first given name of the almost oldest German city? Do you know how long it took to build its Cathedral? Do you further know what its scariest natural disaster is? Read on.

Cologne Germany (Köln) is one of the oldest therefore almost the first German city. When it became city in 50 A.D., it bore the name Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (CCAA) because of the Roman Empress Agrippina.

The city is catholic and had a bishop as early as 313. In 785, it became the seat of an archbishop. The Archbishop was one of the seven Electors of the Holy Roman Empire. He ruled a large area as a secular lord in the Middle Ages, but in 1288, he was defeated by the Cologne citizens and forced to move to Bonn.

Cologne Germany was a member of the Hanseatic League. It became a free city officially by 1475, but lost its free status and regained its archbishopric during the French period. In 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, it became part of the Prussian kingdom.

The start of building of Cologne Cathedral was in 1248, abandoned in the mid-1500s, and finished in 1880. That took 632 years; think about that... Just visit
for a side step to the history of Cologne Cathedral.

During the 19th and 20th century, Cologne incorporated numerous surrounding towns, so that it had a population of 600,000 inhabitants by the time of World War 1.

In World War 2, it was repeatedly bombed. The Cologne Cathedral received 14 hits by aerial bombs, but luckily didn't collapse. When the city was in ruins — see picture at
— it took some time to rebuild it, but afterwards its buildings and population grew again. So since 1975, the population of Cologne Germany always lays around 1 million inhabitants.

So much the Rhine of the city brought prosperity and quality of life, so feared is its flood. The worst flood ever registered occurred in February 1784. After an extremely long and cold winter the temperature jumped deep down. The Rhine river had frozen over and the thaw as well as the breaking open ice provided firmly for a record water level of 13,55 m. That was ten meters above the normal level!

The tides, on which heavy ice floes floated, devastated far parts of the development of the banks and all ships. 65 people died. The district Mülheim on the right Rhine side was completely destroyed.

In more recent time, a flood protection concept plans the establishment of sheet pile walls. That should protect old town up to a level of 10 meters against inundations. Still, old town consists of a magnet for floods.

Despite of this, Cologne is well-known as the Fun City of all German cities. You go into a tavern and do not know anybody, and you go out with a lot of friends. It's very easy to come in contact with its people. In February, during Cologne Carnival, the whole Rhine land celebrates for at least six days — with tons of sweets, roses, and kisses.

Kind regards,
Marcus Hochstadt
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About the Author:
Marcus Hochstadt has a high interest in helping you gain the delightful form of a smart travel to and through Germany. Just recently, he has written a special report on "How to Travel for Free!" You can download it at

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Germany Travel > Info & Booking > Article Book > Cologne — Historical Facts