Cologne (German Koln), a city of Prussia, capital of the province of the Rhine and of a district of the same name, situated on the left bank of the Rhine, in lat. 50° 58' N., lon. 7° E., 38 m. E. N. E. of Aix-la-Chapelle; pop. in 1871, 129,233, mostly Roman Catholics. The suburb of Deutz, upon the opposite bank of the Rhine, is connected with it by a bridge of boats and by an iron railway bridge 1,352 ft. long. The city forms a semicircle which rests upon the Rhine, and is surrounded by strong walls and protected by forts. Most of the streets are narrow and crooked. Of the public places the finest are the Heumarkt, Waid, Altmarkt, and Neumarkt. The city is the seat of courts of appeal, and of an archbishopric founded in the 8th century. The most noted manufacture is that of eau de Cologne, for the production of which there are 24 establishments. Among the other manufactures are silk and cotton goods, machines, tobacco, lace, paper, wax, soap, and musical and optical instruments. The Rathhaus or town hall has a Gothic tower and a marble porch in the renaissance style. It contains the Hansa-Saal, in which the Hanseatic merchants held their meetings. Another fine building is the Kauf-haus, also called the Gurzenich, from the person who gave the ground upon which it stands.
In the hall on the first floor diets of the empire have been held and emperors entertained. It is now used for balls, concerts, etc. The Templars' house is now used for an exchange. The buildings for the government offices, the court of appeals, and the archbishop's palace are all handsome. But the most remarkable building is the cathedral, commenced about 1250, but still unfinished. It is 511 ft. in length, 231 in breadth, and the towers when completed will be 511 ft. high. It is said to be the largest specimen of Gothic architecture in the world. (See Cathedeal.) The repair of the building was commenced in 1830 under King Frederick William III., and its construction was carried forward under Frederick William IV. Large sums were appropriated by the government, and money was also raised by private subscription, and by an association called the Dombauverein, with branches throughout Europe. The nave, aisles, and transept were consecrated in 1848, and the whole interior was thrown open in 1863. The portals, after designs by Zwirner, are finished; the one facing toward the south is greatly admired. Cologne has many other beautiful churches, of which those of St. Gereon, St. Peter, St. Cunibert, St. Ursula, and those of the Jesuits and of the Apostles are the finest.
It has also a handsome synagogue, in the oriental style, for the construction of which the banker Op-penheim furnished the funds and Zwirner the designs. The Wallraf-Richartz museum was built by Richartz to contain a large collection of paintings bequeathed to the city by Wall-raf. The university of Cologne, famous in the middle ages, no longer exists. There is a public library of 60,000 volumes. - Cologne had its origin in a camp which was pitched upon its site by the Romans in the time of Marcus Agrippa. Afterward the Ubii were transferred to it from the right bank of the Rhine, and it became the Oppidum Ubiorum. Agrip-pina, the daughter of Germanicus and the mother of Nero, a native of this place, induced her husband Claudius to found a colony here in A. D. 51. The town then received the name Colonia Agrippina, which it still retains in part. The foundations of the Roman walls remain, and may be traced through the heart of the city. Some suppose that traces of the Roman descent of its inhabitants may be found in their features and complexion. Down to the time of the French revolution the leading citizens were styled patricians, and the two burgomasters wore the consular toga and were attended by lictors.
From the beginning of the 13th to nearly the end of the 15th century Cologne was one of the principal cities of the Hanseatic league. When most powerful it could put 30,000 men into the field. In 1259 it obtained the right to require that all goods which arrived in vessels should be unloaded and shipped in Cologne bottoms. Important commercial privileges were granted to it in England. It was the channel of commerce with the East, and had business relations with Spain, Portugal, and Italy. The celebration of the carnival, and the exhibition of puppets, which are still kept up, bear witness to the influence of Italian tastes. Cologne was sometimes called the Rome of the north. Various causes contributed to the diminution of its prosperity. The route of commerce was changed. The clergy acquired undue influence, and feuds arose between them and the citizens. The Jews were expelled. Disturbances were afterward created by the weavers, and the magistrates caused their looms to be destroyed, in consequence of which they left the city. In the 16th century restrictions were placed by the Dutch upon the navigation of the Rhine; and in 1618 the Protestants were banished from the city.
As prosperity diminished, the number of beggars and priests increased, until it was said that the beggars were 12,000 in number, and that there were as many steeples in Cologne as there are days in the year. In 1794, when the city fell into the hands of the French, it contained about 40,000 inhabitants, of whom more than one fourth lived by mendicity. The French government at once attacked this social evil. It secularized many churches and religious foundations, and adopted the most stringent measures against the abuses which had grown out of them. In 1814 it was restored to Prussia. The restrictions upon the navigation of the Rhine were removed in 1837; steamboats have been introduced, and railways have been constructed, by which Cologne is connected with all the principal cities of the continent. In February, 1873, a proposition was submitted by Prince Bismarck to appropriate $9,000,-000 for the erection and improvement of fortifications. The Kolnische Zeitung is one of the most influential newspapers in Germany, being the organ of the liberal party, as the Kolnische Volksblatter is of the Roman Catholics.
Cologne Cathedral in its present condition.