Cologne

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Ring  The Ring begins at Chlodwigplatz and ends at Ebertplatz, following the contours of the old city wall. It forms a giant semi-circle around the center of town and supplies one with ample sources of amusement - you could spend months just going from place to place along this road and still not get bored. This guide follows the Ring from South to North through the various quarters, then further out to Nippes and Ehrenfeld.

Südstadt  The center of the Südstadt is Chlodwigplatz, a network of streets and lanes extends from it, hiding a multitude of bars and theaters. Good cocktails can be found at Chin's American Bar and the Fiffi Bar. The Südstadt is also a good part of town if you like rock music. This quarter also has plenty of bars for gays and lesbians, for example, the Mephisto or Indigo. During Karneval, the Südstadt goes wild, but otherwise it's usually pretty mellow. The Odeon is the only cinema in the Südstadt, but in exchange there is plenty of theater on offer, notably the Theater am Sachsenring and the Theater der Keller.

Uni-Viertel  Cologne's main student hang-out is found around Barbarossaplatz and Zülpicher Platz. Masses of bars and pubs are located here, and it's hard to decide where to leave your money. There are also plenty of good clubs in the area; Liquid Sky features underground electro and techno, there is also the more mainstream Prime Club and MTC for rock fans. Bars like the Blueshell, Aceton and Stereo Wonderland get together for a package deal on New Year's Eve - they are all close together and ideal for a bar crawl. Rathenauplatz is surrounded by many good cafés and bars, like Jonny Turista, and the Vampire, as well as Hotelux.

Hohenzollernring  The Hohenzollernring is another busy area for bars. It is also home to many bistros and restaurants, and excels in inexpensive Italian cusine. Quite a few Mexican-style restaurants can be found near here, such as Pocoloco. Joe Champs is also worth a mention, for all sports bar and American bar fans. There are three cinemas on the Hohenzollernring - UFA Palast Kino Center, UFA Scala and the Rex Cine Center.

Friesenviertel  One (cocktail) bar after another - you won't stay thirsty for long in the Friesenviertel. With an empahsis on elegance, there is a tendency towards slightly more expensive restaurant-bars such as Heising und Adelmann, as well as stylishly decorated scene bars like the XX-Dos Equis. Media-types and artists seem to congregate around Friesenstrasse.

Belgische Viertel  The best way to find the 'Belgian Quarter' is from Rudolfplatz. The names of the streets will let you know if you're in the right place. Antwerpener Strasse and Brüsseler Platz sound pretty Belgian. This is pretty much the coolest part of Cologne, with attractive old buildings and expensive apartments. Many bars and restaurants have made this their home, hoping to bring in the media crowd. This has not proved difficult for Alcazar, its façade is well-known from the opening credits of the Saturday night comedy show Samstag Nacht. Easy listening sounds and the feel of the Sixties are to be found at Hallmackenreuther. The Six Pack still draws in the crowds from among Cologne's music scene. The M20 and the Tronic normally offer excellent DJs.

Nordstadt  The closer you get to Ebertplatz, the more sparse the bars, but there are still a few gems to be found, like the classic Elektra, Café Spitz and Café Schmitz. Some of the best cinemas in town are located here. The Metropolis, offering English language films, the arty Filmhaus, the massive Cinedom and the tiny Filmpalette.

Nippes  Nippes isn't quite so central, but still has a lot to offer. The Kantine is found here, as well as various bars; Rosenrot and the Froschkönig, or Mach'et and Gernot's, to name but a few. Those who make the short journey from Ebertplatz will be pleasantly surprised.

Ehrenfeld  Lots of students and down-to-earth people live here. What was once a bit run down has since been revived as an area of cultural activity. Lots of bars and cafés can be found in the side streets off the long Venloer Strasse, which runs right through Ehrenfeld. Café Sehnsucht is a well loved place for Sunday Frühstück-breakfast. The area around Herbrands with the Cinenova cinema and café offers a full program of events. Ehrenfeld's live music venues, Underground and the Live Music Hall can be found further down towards Gürtel. The Königsblut is a new, friendly cocktail bar.

History of Cologne

Cologne was founded by the Romans in 38 BC. The Roman governor for Gallia, to which the Rhineland belonged at the time, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, induced the construction of forts and postal services to establish the Romans at the Rhineland.
The construction work, however, could not be done by the Romans alone. Therefore the Romans joined forces with the local teutonic tribe of the Ubier. The Ubier, happy about their liaison with the powerful Romans, chose Cologne's city area as the new capital of their tribe and lived in harmony with the Roman conquerors.
At that time, Cologne was named "oppidum Ubiorum" (which means something like "fortified settlement of the Ubier") and was a Roman colony for veterans. The Roman legionnaires had to serve Rome for 20 years before they were entitled to receive annuity. They had the choice between a monetary compensation or real estate.
The later was preferred by many soldiers, whereby a rich upper class of former Roman legionnaires and their ubian wifes was formed.
The famous Roman general Agrippa upgraded the city which was hardly recognizable until then to the metropolis of the Roman province Germania. One of his measures was to build a roman bathhouse, he thereby induced some southern hedonism to the rather harsh surroundings. The ground work of the bath house was found underneath Groß St.Martin and can still by visited.
Cologne's breakthrough was made possible by Agrippina, Agrippa's granddaughter.
It was her, who gave Cologne its name. At the age of thirteen, she was married for the first time in Rome and started a carreer through the beds of various romans, before, at 34, getting married to her uncle emperor Claudius. As a demonstration of her power she leveraged Cologne to the status of a legal Roman colony. In 50 BC the "fortified settlement of the Ubier" was named "Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium" and served as the capital and trade center of the roman province.
Starting in 260 AD, Cologne was almost constantly besieged by the Franks, leading to the abandonment of Cologne by the Romans. The last Roman governor left Cologne in 425 AD.
Another important woman in Cologne's history is the holy Ursula. In the early Middle Ages Cologne was besieged by the huns who ceased from Cologne only after the holy Ursula returned, accompanied by 11.000 virgins (according to the legend), from a pilgrimage to Rome and freed Cologne once and for all from the huns. In commemoration St. Ursula was build, in which beautiful frecos tell her story.
The retreat of the Romans created a power vacuum, which the Catholic Church was able to fill. In 800 AD Cologne was declared archbishopric by Carl the Great, whereby the power of the Catholic Church in the city was manifested.
Therewith, the three major components of Cologne's history have been outlined: The mulicultural mix of Romans and Ubiers, the female influence and the Catholic Church.
In the Middle Ages Cologne was a city of merchants and pilgrims. On the occasion of a crusade to Milan, the relics of the Epiphany were being "transferred" to Cologne by the archbishop Reinald von Dassel. Cologne thereby received another attraction for pilgrims, leading to the foundation of the cathedral in 1248. The city's main source of income was its status as the "Rome of the North" and its unique "Stapelrecht". The "Stapelrecht" obliged all ships travelling the Rhine to store their merchandise in Cologne. Cologne's citizens then had the preemtive right on these goods.
Due to a dwindling of the pilgrims and a general recession of the city, the construction of the cathedral was stoped in 1560 for the next 282 years.
In the meantime, the French in 1794 seized the city, which belonged to France officially in 1801. The French encountered a desoltate Cologne. The glamour Cologne once possessed was gone. The Catholic Church owned two thirds of the land, the roman sewerage was gone, most of the population lived in poverty. The French took drastic measures. The immigration of prostestants and jews was allowed, the Catholic Church was expopriated, street lighting, sewerage and waste disposal established and a hospital opened.
In 1815 France turns Cologne over to Prussia. Under Prussian government the cathedral was finished in 1880, after another 38 years of construction work.
In the Second World War, 72 percent of the city was destroyed. In 1975, after long and intensive recontruction work, Cologne counted one million inhabitants for the first time in its history.

 

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