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Cologne travel guide — Cologne tourism and travel information

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about Cologne

Cologne (German: Köln [ˈkœln]) (population 965,954 as of December 31, 2003), is the fourth largest city in Germany and largest city of the North Rhine-Westphalia state. It is one of the most important German inland ports, and considered the economic, cultural, and historic capital of the Rhineland.

Its location at the intersection of the Rhine (German Rhein) river with one of the major trade routes between eastern and western Europe was the foundation of Cologne's commercial importance. In the Middle Ages it also became an ecclesiastical center of significance and an important center of art and learning. Cologne was badly damaged during World War II.

Today, it is the seat of a university, which is renowned for its economics faculty and the archbishop and cardinal. Cologne cathedral, the largest Gothic church in northern Europe, was designated a World Heritage site in 1996; it is the city's major landmark and unofficial symbol. The city is 43% Roman Catholic, 18% Protestant and 39% other religions. Until World War II and the following stream of refugees arriving from Eastern Germany, Roman Catholicism had a wide majority in Cologne.

Cologne geography

The city covers about 405.15 km² (about 156 miles²), is located at 50° 56′33" North 06° 57′32" East and is between 37.5 and 118.04 m m above sea level.

Cologne history

Cologne is the oldest major city in Germany; it became a city in 50 A.D. It got a bishop early, and in 785 became the seat of an archbishop. The Archbishop of Cologne 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 was a member of the Hanseatic League, but became a free city officially only by 1475.

Cologne lost its free status (and regained its archbishop) during the French period, and in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna was made part of the kingdom of Prussia. Cologne became an industrial city, and the cathedral, started in 1248 but abandoned in the mid-1500s, was finally finished in 1880.

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. In World War II, it was repeatedly bombed, and much of the city was in ruins. It took some time to rebuild the city, but afterward it grew again, and 1975 reached 1 million inhabitants for about one year.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cologne".

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