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Rund um den Globus pflegt die Stadt Köln besondere Beziehungen. Durch gemeinsame Aktivitäten, die dem Aufbau von Beziehungen zwischen den Bürgerinnen und Bürgern der Stadt Köln und den ausändischen Partnern und Freunden dienen, wird eine Annäherung verschiedener Kulturen und Lebensweisen und ein gegenseitiges Verständnis für das zunächst Unbekannte angestrebt.
Köln gehört nicht nur durch seine Einwohnerzahl mit über einer Million zu den großen Städten. Die Gesamtfläche der Rheinmetropole umfasst stolze 405,15 km² (linksrheinisch 230.25 km², rechtsrheinisch 174,87 km²). Die Stadtgrenze ist 130 km lang. Die Ausdehnung der Stadt von Norden nach Süden beträgt 28,1 km, von West nach Ost 27,6 km.
Köln liegt auf dem 50° Breitengrad 56' 33,2607" nördlicher Breite und auf dem 06° Längengrad 57' 32,3136" östlicher Länge. Der höchste Punkt liegt 118.04 Meter über NN, der niedrigste 37,5 Meter über NN.
Bei einer Gesamtfläche von 405,15 km² liegt die Bevölkerungsdichte in Köln bei 2518 Einwohner je km². Fast 140 km² sind bebaut. Parks und Grünanlagen sind auf über 37 km² verteilt. Die Landwirtschaft nutzt 82 km².
Das Kölner Waldgebiet breitet sich auf über 56 km² aus. Die Stadt ist in neun Stadtbezirke unterteilt: Innenstadt, Rodenkirchen, Lindenthal, Ehrenfeld, Nippes, Chorweiler, Porz, Kalk und Mülheim. Weitere Unterteilungen finden in Stadtteile und dann in Stadtviertel statt.
Im Kölner Stadtgebiet stehen über 125.000 Wohngebäude. Das höchste Monument der Stadt Köln ist der Fernsehturm. Er ist 243,3 Meter hoch und gehört seit 1981 zu den Wahrzeichen der Stadt Köln. Ein ganz neues Wahrzeichen hingegen ist der Media Park Kölnturm. Er ist 148 Meter hoch und das höchste Hochhaus in Köln. Nur einen Meter kleiner ist das Colonia-Haus und damit das höchste Wohnhaus.
Das wichtigste Bauwerk der Kölner und der Skyline ist aber ohne Zweifel der Kölner Dom. Und mit seinen 157,4 Metern ist er auch immerhCologne, in size the third city of Prussia, and the capital of the district (Regierungsbezirk) of Cologne, is situated in the lowlands of the lower Rhine on both sides of the river. Its area is 45 square miles; its population (1 December, 1905), 428,722, of whom 339,790 are Catholics, 76,718 Protestants, 11,035 of other sects.
The history of Cologne goes back to the first century before Christ. After Marcus Agrippa transplanted the Ubii from the right to the left bank of the Rhine (38 B.C.), Ara Ubiorum, the centre of the civil and religious life of this tribe, occupied the site of the modern Cologne. In A.D. 50 Agrippina, the daughter of Germanicus, founded here a colony of veterans called Colonia Agrippina; the inhabitants of the two settlements mingled freely with each other, while the Germans gradually assumed Roman customs. After the revolt of the Batavians, Cologne was made the capital of a Roman province and was repeatedly the residence of the imperial court. At an early date Christianity came to Cologne with the Roman soldiers and traders; according to Irenaeus of Lyons, it was a bishop's see as early as the second century. However, Saint Maternus, a contemporary of Constantine, is the first historically certain Bishop of Cologne. As a result of its favourable situation, the city survived the stormy period of the migrations of the Teutonic tribes. When the Ripuarian Franks took possession of the country in the fifth century, it became the residence of their king. On account of the services of the Bishops of Cologne to the Merovingian kings, the city was to have been the metropolitan see of Saint Boniface, but Mainz was chosen, for unknown reasons, and Cologne did not become an archbishopric until the time of Charlemagne. The city suffered heavily from invasions of the Northmen, especially in the autumn of 881, but recovered quickly from these calamities, especially during the reign of the Saxon emperors and of such vigorous archbishops as Bruno, Heribert, Piligrun, and others.
In the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Cologne attained great prosperity. The basis of this prosperity was the commercial activity of the city, which placed it in relation not only with Northern Europe, but also with Hungary, Venice, and Genoa. The local crafts also flourished; the spinners, weavers, and dyers, the woollen-drapers, goldsmiths, sword-cutlers, and armour-makers of Cologne were especially celebrated. The ecclesiastical importance of the city was equally great; no city north of the Alps was so rich in great churches, sanctuaries, relics, and religious communities. It was known as the "German Rome," and was annually visited by pilgrims, especially after Rainald of Dassel, Archbishop of Cologne (1159-67), brought thither the remains of the Three Magi from Milan. Learning was zealously cultivated in the cathedral school, in the collegiate chapters, and the cloisters; famous philosophers taught here, among them Rupert of Deutz, Caesarius of Heisterbach, Duns Scotus, and Blessed Albertus Magnus. The arts also flourished, on account of the numerous churches and civil buildings. With the growth of the municipal prosperity, the pride of the citizens and their desire for independence also increased, and caused them to feel more dissatisfied with the sovereignty of the archbishop. This resulted in bitter feuds between the bishops and the city, which lasted for two centuries with varying fortunes. The first uprising occurred under Anno II, at Easter of the year 1074; the citizens rose against the archbishop, but were defeated within three days, and severely punished. They received important concessions from Archbishop Henry I of Molenark (1225-38) and his successor, the powerful Conrad of Hostaden (1238-1261), who laid the corner-stone of the cathedral. The bloody battle of Worringen in 1288, in which the citizens of Cologne allied with Brabant took prisoner Archbishop Siegfried of Westerburg (1274-97), resulted in an almost complete freedom for the city; to regain his liberty, the archbishop recognized the political independence of Cologne, but reserved certain rights, notably the administration of justice.
A long period of peace with the outside world followed. Cologne joined the Hanseatic League in the thirteenth century, and became an imperial free city in the fourteenth. On the other hand internal dissensions frequently disturbed the city. After the close of the twelfth century the government of the city was in the hands of patrician families, who filled all the offices in the city government with members of their own order. In time the craft organizations (guilds) increased in strength and demanded a share in the government. As early as 1370, in the uprising of the weavers, they gained the upper hand for a short time, but it was not until 1396 that the rule of the patricians was finally abolished. On 14 September of that year the new democratic constitution was adopted, in accordance with which only representatives of the guilds sat in the city council. The last act of the patricians was the foundation of the university (1388), which rapidly began to prosper. By their firmness and wisdom the new rulers maintained themselves against the patricians, against Archbishop Dietrich of Mörs (1419), and against Charles the Bold, who, in alliance with Archbishop Ruprecht, sought to bring the city again under archiepiscopal rule. It also suppressed domestic uprisings (for instance in 1481 and 1512). Throughout this period the city retained its place as the first city of the German Empire, in which learning, the fine arts, and the art of printing were vigorously cultivated.
In the religious upheavals of the sixteenth century Cologne remained true to Catholic doctrine, thanks chiefly to the activity of the university, where such men as Cochlaeus, Ortwin Gratianus, Jacob of Hoogstraeten, and others taught. Under their influence, the city council held fast to Catholic tradition and energetically opposed the new doctrines, which found many adherents among the people and the clergy. Cologne remained a stronghold of the old beliefs, and gave active support to the Counter-Reformation, which found earnest champions in Johannes Gropper, the Jesuits, Saint Peter Canisius, and others. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were a time of decadence for the city; its importance diminished especially after the Thirty Years War (1618-48) in which it was loyal to the emperor and the empire, and was never captured. The university eventually lost its prestige, because through over-caution it opposed the most justifiable reforms; trade was diverted to other channels; only its ecclesiastical glory remained to the city, which was governed by a narrow-minded class of tradesmen and often suffered from the dissensions between council and citizens (in 1679-86 and the bloody troubles caused by Nicholas Guelich). The outbreak of the French Revolution found it a community with but slight power of resistance. The French entered Cologne, 26 October, 1794, and the citizens were soon severely oppressed by requisitions, forced loans, and contributions. On 27 September, 1797, the old city constitution was finally annulled, the French administrative organization established, and the city made a part of the French department of the Roer of which Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) was the capital. The university was discontinued in 1798; it had dragged out a miserable existence owing to the establishment of the University of Bonn and the confused policy of the last archbishop. After the downfall of French domination in Germany, Cologne was apportioned by the Congress of Vienna to the Kingdom of Prussia. It was made neither the seat of the government of the Rhenish Province, nor the seat of the university, but it was restored to its rank of metropolitan see, and in the nineteenth century, under Prussian rule became the third largest city of Prussia and attained unusual prosperity, economic, intellectual, and ecclesiastical.
Only brief ecclesiastical statistics can be given here. In 1907, besides the archbishop and assistant bishop, there were in Cologne 214 priests, of whom 24 were members of the cathedral chapter and 38 were parish priests, and 128 others engaged in pastoral occupations. There are 12 Dominicans and 9 Franciscans. The two deaneries of the city embrace 39 parish and 3 military churches; in addition to the 39 parish churches, there are 22 lesser churches and 26 chapels. Religious societies are numerous and powerful among more than 400 religious societies and brotherhoods we may mention: Societies of Saint Vincent, Saint Elizabeth, and Saint Charles Borromeo, Marian congregations for young men and for young women, rosary confraternities, Associations the Holy Childhood, Holy Family, of Christian Mothers, etc. Among the trades organization the most powerful are the four Catholic Gesellenvereine, with 4 hospices and 18 Catholic workingmens' unions. The male religious orders and congregations are represented by Dominicans, Franciscans, Alexian Brothers, Brothers of Charity, and Brothers of Saint Francis; the female orders and congregations by Sisters of Saint Benedict, the Borromean Sisterhood, the Cellites, Sisters of Saint Dominic, Sisters of Saint Francis, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus, the Ursuline Sisters, and Sisters of Saint Vincent; a total of 43 religious houses with about 1140 inmates. The Alexian Brothers, the Brothers of Charity, and the Brothers of Saint Francis, as well as almost all the female religious orders, conduct numerous charitable and educational institutions.
Among the churches of Cologne, the foremost is the cathedral, the greatest monument of Gothic architecture in Germany. Its cornerstone was laid by Archbishop Conrad of Hostaden, 14 August, 1248; the sanctuary was dedicated in 1322; the nave made ready for religious services in 1388; the southern tower was built to a height of about 180 feet in 1447; then the work of building was interrupted for almost four hundred years. During the French Revolution the cathedral was degraded to a hay barn. In the nineteenth century the work of building was resumed, thanks above all to the efforts of Sulpice Boisseree, who excited the enthusiasm of the Crown Prince, afterwards King Frederick William IV, for the completion of the work. The restoration was begun in 1823; in 1842 the Cathedral Building Society was founded, and generous contributions from all parts of Germany resulted. The interior was finished, 15 October, 1863, and opened for Divine service; and 15 October, 1880, the completion of the entire cathedral was appropriately celebrated in the presence of the German emperor. The whole edifice covers an area of about 7370 square yards; it has a nave 445 feet long, five aisles, and a transept 282 feet wide with three aisles; the height of the nave is about 202 feet, that of the two towers, 515 feet. Among the numerous works of art, the most famous are the picture (Dombild) painted by Stephen Lochner about 1450, the triptych over the high altar, the 96 choir seats of the sanctuary, and the shrine in which are kept the relics of the Three Kings in the treasury of the sacristy. The last is considered the most remarkable medieval example of the goldsmith's art extant. Among the other churches of the city, the most noteworthy of those dating from the Romanesque period are Saint Gereon, Saint Ursula, Saint Mary in the Capitol, Saint Pantaleon, and the church of the Apostles; from the Transition and the Gothic periods, Saint Cunibert, Saint Mary in Lyskirchen, the church of the Minorites; from more recent times, the Jesuit church, Saint Mary Pantaleon, and Saint Mauritius. The city contains about 25 charitable institutions under Catholic management. in nach dem Colonius das zweithöchste Gebäude in Köln.