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Cologne (kəlōnˈ), Ger. Köln, city (2021 est. metro area pop. 1,129,000), North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany, on the Rhine River. It is a commercial, financial, and industrial center, a rail and road junction, and a river port. Its manufactures include automobile engines, engineering, electronics engineering, metals, chemicals, textiles, printed materials, and eau de cologne.

Points of Interest

The famous Gothic cathedral, the largest in northern Europe, was closed from the end of the war until 1956. It contains the relics of the Wise Men of the East and the paintings of Stephen Lochner. The cathedral was begun in 1248 on the site of an older church, but the nave and the two spires (each spire 515 ft/157 m high) were built according to the original plans between 1842 and 1880.

Other historic buildings in the city include the Romanesque churches of St. Maria im Kapitol, of St. Gereon, of the Holy Apostles, and of St. Andreas (where Albertus Magnus, the 13th-century scholastic, is buried); the Gothic and Renaissance city hall; and the Gürzenich (1441–44), formerly a meeting place of the city's merchants and now a concert hall. Impressive modern structures include the opera house and the radio and television broadcasting stations.

As the center of German Catholicism, Cologne has long been famous for its impressive religious processions and for its exuberant Mardi Gras celebrations. The city figures prominently in German romantic literature. Cologne is the seat of a university (founded 1388; discontinued 1798; reestablished 1919) and numerous museums, including those of painting, ethnology, and municipal history. The European Astronaut Center also is there.


A Roman garrison in the 1st cent. B.C., Cologne was made a Roman colony in A.D. 50 by Emperor Claudius, who named it Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis for his wife, Agrippina. The city passed under Frankish control in the 5th cent. The episcopal see, established there in the 4th cent., was made an archdiocese under Charlemagne. Its archbishops, who later ruled a strip of land on the west bank of the Rhine as princes of the Holy Roman Empire, acquired great power and ranked third among the electors. The archbishops' constant feuds with the lay citizenry resulted in the transfer (mid-13th cent.) of their residence to nearby Brühl, then to Bonn.

Cologne was self-governing after 1288, became a free imperial city in 1475, and, as a member of the Hanseatic League, flourished as a commercial center until the 16th cent. Its decline was hastened by the expulsion of the Jews (15th cent.) and the restrictions imposed on Protestants (16th cent.). Cologne was seized by the French in 1794, and the archbishopric was officially secularized in 1801. The city passed to Prussia in 1815, and in 1821 the archdiocese was reorganized.

In the 19th cent. Cologne prospered again as an industrial center and as the main transit port and depot of NW Germany. The industrial town of Deutz (noted for the manufacture of motors), on the east bank of the Rhine, was united with Old Cologne, on the west bank. Old Cologne, with its numerous historic buildings, was severely damaged by aerial bombardment in World War II.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Köln), a city in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), in the Land of Nordrhein-Westfalen, one of the greatest economic centers of the country. Situated on both banks of the Rhine, in the southern part of the lower Rhine lowlands (in the Bay of Cologne). Area, 251.4 sq km. Population, 866,300 (1970).

Cologne is a major junction of railroads, autobahns and highways, petroleum and petroleum product pipelines, and airlines. About 1.3 million passengers passed through the international airport serving Cologne and Bonn in 1970; it is also an important river port (with a freight turnover of 8.5 million tons). There are eight bridges across the Rhine in Cologne and its suburbs.

A favorable location in terms of transportation and proximity to the Ruhr and lower Rhine brown coal basin promoted the economic development of the city. In the industry of Cologne and its suburbs (in which more than 250,000 people are employed) machine building and metal working are especially important, including engine and tractor building, the manufacture of equipment for the mining industry (such as the Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz plants), automobile production (the Fordwerke plants), railroad car and locomotive building, and the electrical engineering industry, especially the production of cables (the Feiten und Guilleaume plants). Other industries include the petroleum-refining and petrochemical industry (in Cologne and its suburbs Godorf and Wesseling); a diversified chemical industry (Cologne and its suburbs account for one-sixth of all the people employed in the chemical industry of the FRG), including fine chemical production (such as perfumes); and the textile, clothing, food and condiments (including chocolate), printing, and jewelry industries. In addition to big enterprises, there are many medium and small industrial and handicraft enterprises.

Cologne is an important wholesale trade center and the site of regular international fairs and exhibitions; it is also an important center of credit and banking and especially insurance; there is a stock exchange there.

Cologne is the site of a university, a pedagogical academy and a pedagogical institute, an academy of business administration and economics, an insurance academy, an insurance institute, a music high school, and a zoological garden. Its museums of art include the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, the Kunsthalle, the Roman-German Museum, and the Museum for East Asian Art.


Cologne, one of the oldest German cities, arose from a Roman military camp founded in the first century at the site of a settlement of the Germanic tribe of the Ubii. In 50 A.D. it was named Colonia Agrippina. With a favorable geographic position and as the residence of a bishop (from 785, an archbishop), Cologne was already an important urban center in the tenth and 11th centuries and soon became one of the leading cities of medieval Germany, with highly developed handicraft arts and trade. The lords of the city, the archbishops of Cologne (who became electors in the 13th century), ranked among the most influential princes of the empire. From the late 11th century Cologne was the site of a struggle between burghers and lords; this struggle often led to armed clashes and ended in, the transfer of power to the patriciate in the city in the late 13th century. After the guild uprising of 1396 in Cologne power passed into the hands of the guild leadership and the merchants.

Cologne was a leading member of the Hanseatic League. Its economic importance greatly declined in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was occupied by French troops in 1794 and given to Prussia by decision of the Congress of Vienna (1814–15). In 1842–43 Marx lived and worked in Cologne. In the Revolution of 1848–49, Cologne was a major center of the revolutionary movement. Marx and Engels published the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne from June 1848 to May 1849. After World War I (1914–18), Cologne was occupied by British troops until 1926. After World War II (1939–45) it was in the British zone of occupation and became part of the FRG when it was established in 1949.

The oldest center of Cologne was the ancient Roman camp with a rectangular shape along the banks of the Rhine, around which the feudal city with a radial-ring structure arose from the ninth to the 12th century.

Cologne is the site of highly interesting Romanesque churches from the 11th to the 13th centuries with a rich and complex spatial composition, including the church of St. Mary (St. Maria im Kapitol; from before 1049 to 1065); the church of the Apostles (about 1192–1219) and the church of Great St. Martin (about 1185–1240), both of which were rebuilt in the 12th and 13th centuries; and the church of St. Gereon (basically an oval structure, 1219–27). The immense Gothic five-nave cathedral (length, 144 m; height, 157 m) was built from 1248 to 1560 but was completed only in 1842–80. Cologne has also an abundance of secular medieval and Renaissance buildings, such as the Zur Scheuer house (mid-13th century), the Rathaus (1350–70; tower, 1407–14; two-tier gallery, 1569–73; architect, W. Vernuyken), the dance hall Gürzenich (1441–47), and the Zeughaus (1594–1606). Industrial and port regions arose all over Cologne in the 19th and 20th centuries. The city has been under partial reconstruction since 1919. New buildings in Cologne include the opera theater (1954–57), the drama theater (1959 to 1965; architect, W. Riphahn), and bridges across the Rhine.


Ennen, L. Geschichte der Stadt Köln, vols. 1–5. Cologne, 1863–80. Bützler, Th. Kleine illustrierte Geschichte der Stadt Köln. Cologne, 1950.
Rode, H. Köln. Cologne, 1968.



(also eau de cologne), an alcohol-water solution of various odoriferous substances. Colognes are aromatic and refreshing. They were first prepared in 1725 from citrus oils, such as orange, tangerine, lemon, and bergamot oils. The manufacture of colognes involves (1) the preparation of a composition, that is, a mixture of essential oils and odoriferous substances, (2) the addition of infusions of scented raw materials, of alcohol, and of water, (3) aging, and (4) subsequent filtration. The product is then packaged in glass bottles and tightly sealed. Colognes contain a smaller proportion of odoriferous substances than perfumes.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


an industrial city and river port in W Germany, in North Rhine-Westphalia on the Rhine: important commercially since ancient times; university (1388). Pop.: 965 954 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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