The lights of Cologne
While most people are going to sleep, a city is lighting up.
Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest cities, having lived more than two millennia of history. It was founded by the Roman in the first century AD. Since the Roman army could not defeat the ancient Germanic people across the Rhine, they decided to use another approach: show them a little bit of the Roman culture and hope that they will love it, so it would be easier to attach Germanic territory. Cologne was thus a showcase of the Roman Empire on the other side of the Alps. The strategy kind of worked, until the Roman army was deceived by one of it’s own generals (who had coincidentally German roots), losing the battle of Teutoburg and triggering the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Not much remained from the Roman age in Cologne, from the magnificent monuments, buildings, thermals, theatres and from the extensive wall with several towers around the city. Today it is possible to see a gate right in front of the Cathedral and a Roman tower a couple of kilometres away. It is also possible to see many artifacts and ruins in the Römisch-Germanisches Museum close to the Cathedral.
Cologne was one of the most important European cities during the middle age, serving as a trade center and connecting southern and northern Europe through the Rhine. The city was under the control of many different people. Even Napoleon was there. He ordered all houses to be renumbered according to the French standards, giving the number 4711 to the famous and popular manufacturer of the Eau de Cologne. The city was build and rebuild many times. The last time was after WWII. Around 70% of the city was completely destroyed, especially the old city (which you can see around the Cathedral and on the left side in this photograph). Cologne was a very strategic target of the Allies, due to its economic significance. Not to mention that it housed the biggest weapon manufacturing in Germany during WWII, unfortunately powered largely by compulsory labor. The weapon factory facilities are nowadays the Köln Messe. Fortunately the Cathedral remained almost intact (with exception of the right base columns, which were accidentally bombed in 1943). Guess why it was not destroyed by the allies? Imagine you were flying over Germany with the task of dropping a bomb in Cologne. The Cathedral served as a reference point, most like a 157 m tall tag saying: “Drop it here”. So, probably the allies pilots were ordered not to remove the tag. The Cathedral is just magnificent. It was build to be the house of the remains of the three kings, which were bought, most likely stolen from Milan. It also holds many records, being the tallest monument in the world between 1880 and 1884, the tallest twin spired church and also the longest building time for a church: 632 years!!!
It is an impressive historical city and certainly worth to visit.