Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany and is the biggest city within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area. It covers an area of one hundred and fifty-six square miles and has a population of almost one million people. The city is situated on the Rhine River and is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. Cologne is a city that can trace its history back thousands of years. In 39 BC, the tribe of the Ubii settled in the area on the bank of the Rhine and founded the city. In 50 AD, the city was raised to the status of a colonia, meaning a city under Roman Law. At that time it became known as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis. Thirty years later, a water supply was brought into the city via the Eifel Aqueduct and delivered over twenty thousand cubic meters of potable water to the residents. By 90 AD, the colonia became the capital of Germany Inferior and supported a population of over forty thousand residents.
Cologne was made the capital of the Gallic Empire by Postumus in 260 AD. However, the Gallic Empire only lasted about a decade and the city soon went into a period of decline. By 300 AD, the population of the town dwindled to a mere twenty thousand residents. Between the fourth and thirteenth centuries, several cathedrals and religious institutions were built in the city including Cologne Cathedral. During the French Revolution, the Rhineland and Cologne were occupied in 1794. This occupation would last until 1814. The city would then become occupied by Russian troops that very same year. A year later, Cologne was given to Prussia. During World War II, ninety percent of the city’s buildings were destroyed by Allied bombings.
One of the most prominent attractions in the city is Cologne Cathedral. This cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and is under the administration of the archdiocese of Cologne. It is dedicated to St. Peter and the Virgin Mary. It is listed as a World Heritage Site and is one of the most well known monuments in all of Germany. Construction on the massive cathedral began in the mid-thirteenth century and took until the nineteenth century to finish. The church is four hundred and thirty-three feet long, two hundred and fifty-nine feet wide and it has two towers which are each four hundred and seventy-one feet tall. It is considered to be the biggest Gothic church in Northern Europe. It was also the tallest structure in the world, that is until the Washington Monument was built. Inside the church is a gilded thirteenth century sarcophagus that is believed to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men.
A popular attraction in Cologne is the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum ( Imhoff chocolate museum). This museum dedicated to all things chocolate is located in the Altstadt-Sud quarter and displays the entire history of this decadent treat from the Mayans and Aztecs to the present day. This museum attracts over sixty thousand visitors a year and is listed as one of the top ten museums in Germany. Inside the museum is a thirty foot tropiarium which contains cacao trees from the Theobroma Grandiflorum and the Theobroma Cacao species. Also inside the museum is a nine foot tall chocolate fountain. This museum also contains eighteenth century chocolate making equipment and ceramic chocolate drinking cups that come from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The museum can also be rented for parties and weddings.
The Wallraf-Richartz Museum is another popular museum in the city of Cologne. It contains an art gallery and a collection of fine art that spans from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The sections of the museum can be divided into four sections. These sections are the Gothic Exhibition, Early Renaissance Exhibition, Impressionist Exhibition and the American Pop Art Exhibition. Artists represented in the works of this museum include Liebermann, Corinth, Slevogt, Gerard van Honthorst, Rubens, Marianne Stokes, Van Gogh and Max Liebermann.
Another popular attraction in the city is the Cologne Zoological Garden. This zoo features over seven thousand animals from over seven hundred species and is located on twenty hectares of land. It was founded in 1860 and features an aquarium, Meerkat paddock,Asian Elephant park, aviary, Rainforest hall and The Great Ape houses. Animals that are at the zoo include Bactrian Camel, Golden Bellied Capuchin, Howler Monkeys, South American Tapir, Red Panda, Sun Bear, Grizzly Bear, Siberian Tiger, Red-handed Tamarin, Bornean Orangutan, Black-tailed Prairie Dog, Maned Wolf, Przewalski’s Horse, Siberian Mountain Weasel, Blackbuck and Alpaca. The zoo is also home to a number of birds which include Yellow-billed Stork, Marabou Stork, Black Stork, Siberian Crane, Victoria Crowned Pigeon, Southern Screamer, Humboldt Penguin, Java Sparrow, Papuan Lorikeet, Roseate Spoonbill, Common Crane and American Flamingo.
Other attractions in the city of Cologne include RheinEnergieStadion, St Kunibert Basilica, Oper Municipal Theatre, Das Delfter Haus, Minoritenkirche, Schnutgen Museum, Kolner Philharmonie, NS Dokumentationszentrum (Gestapo Prison), Cologne Christmas Market, Museum Ludwig, Romisch-Germanisches Museum (Roman German Museum), Claudius Therme, Kolnisch Wasser, Neptunbad, 4711 Eau de Cologne, Cologne Bonn Airport, Church of St. Johann Baptist, German Sports and Olympic Museum, Stadtgarten, St. Ursula Basilica, Museum fur Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Art), St. Gereon Church, Gross St. Martin Cathedral, St. Maria im Kapitol Church. The city is also home to many popular restaurants and bars. Restaurants in the city include Alter Wartesaal, Sofitel Cologne Mondial am Dom, Restaurant Le Moissonnier, Maulbeers im InterContinental Koln, Argentinisches Restaurant & Steakhaus and Le Merou Restaurant. Prominent hotels in the city include Maritim Hotel Koln, Hotel Mondial am Dom, Hotel Cristall, Hotel im Wasserturm, InterContinental Koln, CityClass Hotel Residence am Dom and the Four Points by Sheraton Central Koln. Cologne is also a city that features many shops, cafes and bars. And if thats not enough to peak your interest, the city of Cologne also features many different city wide festivals all throughout the year. The city has a little bit of something for everyone.