It is the fourth city in Germany, in terms of population, after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, a big city crossed by a hundreds of kilometers long river with centuries of history on its banks. Cologne, Köln, has many churches, like these 12 Romanesque, which are just a sample of the many jewels hoarded on its streets and squares.
The origin of Köln goes back to the first decades of the christian era, when the Roman Emperor Claudius elevated the then village to Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Colony of Claudius and Altar of the Agrippiner). This gave Colonia the status of ‘city’ under Roman law, being granted more rights than before. This was in the year 50 a.D. In the past almost 2,000 years of history, Cologne has evolved into a financial center and also… the most “carnival city” in Germany! Indeed, it is the seat of some important automotive companies such as Ford Europe, with about 20,000 employeees, and also of the German headquarters of Citroën and Renault. Firms like Lufthansa, Galeria Kaufhof (a big chain of malls), Rewe and RTL, the main private television corporation in Germany, are based in Cologne as well. Of course, the eau of Cologne was born here!
But not only work is important, and proof of it is the tradition that starts every 11th day of the 11th month (November), at 11.11AM: the craziest carnival in Germany. Its culmination, on Ash Wednesday, is the burning of Nubbel, leaning on an old tradition that at the end of carnival, the carnival itself must die. The Nubbel is impersonated by a straw puppet that represents “somewhere” and “someone”, i.e. someone whose identity and placing isn’t clear, but he is known and sure to exist. The parades of Rose Monday (Rosenmontag, vídeo), and of the spirits (Geisterzug, vídeo) will be left behind. Also, needless to say, liters and liters of Kölsch!
Cologne is well known abroad for its espectacular cathedral. It’s construction, initiated back in 1248, did not finish until 1880, more than 600 years later (the Sagrada Família in Barcelona was begun “only” 130 years ago, so no complaints!). The cathedral, for some years in the 19th century the tallest building in the world, takes in the shrine of the Three Kings, a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Three Kings; it is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of cathedral. In 1996, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites.
Now Cologne can be explored in Catalan and in Spanish with itineri.de! You that you can taste a bit of it, we suggest you watch the following two videos: the first one is a presentation of the city, the second one shows some images previous to the destruction of the city during WWII. Enjoy them, and see you in Cologne!
Text & photo © Ferran Porta – all rights reserved