2000 years of history - development to a metropolis
In the first half of the first century before the birth of Christ, the Roman legionaries’ camp emerged on the left bank of the Rhine and soon became a fixed settlement. Fixed quarters, stock houses, guard towers, palisades and camp doors were erected. The place had proven itself to be strategically important as peoples’ thoroughfares and trade routes crossed here. A harbour for the war fleet was built on the Alteburg, to control the area of the Lower Rhine. The base was excellently chosen and the Romans remained the power on the Rhine for almost 500 years
This Roman "Colonia" was elevated to the status of a city 50 years after Christ and developed into one of the most important trade and production centres of the Empire north of the Alps. In the Middle Ages, from about the 12th to the 15th century, the city experienced its heyday blossoming into the most populous and one of the wealthiest cities in the German-speaking world.
In 1288, the citizens of Cologne won a military victory over the Archbishop and the city fathers and, from now on, held the political and economic power in their own hands. In 1388, the citizens founded the first city university and, in 1475, Cologne’s status as a Free Imperial City was confirmed by law. Very soon, Cologne evolved as an important trade district of the Hanses and a trade fair centre..
In the latter Middle Ages however, an economic decline began for Cologne which was conditioned by the introduction of new forms of economy and trade routes and the gradual development of the national states in Europe. It was to continue until well into the nineteenth century. The city also lost power politically and was occupied in 1794 by the French revolutionary troops and integrated into the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815.
Through the industrial revolution in the 19th century, this situation changed again and Cologne experienced a new and immense revival. As the city was subject to large-area destruction during the Second World War, numerous old buildings were lost.
The remains of the Roman Settlement, Cologne’s unique cuisine and numerous burgher buildings (Town Hall, Gürzenich, Overstozenhaus etc.) bear witness still today to the wealth and the piety of the "Holy Cologne".
Today, Cologne is an art and trade fair city of world ranking, an important traffic and commerce centre in Western Europe and a vital and charming city in which the people like to live and laugh - not only during the famous Carneval!