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Cologne is addictive. Anyone who has ever lived in our attractive cathedral city never wants to leave again. Admire one of the most beautiful musical fireworks. The Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop, the city's landmark and Germany's most frequently visited building. But it is also a place for peace and contemplation – thanks to the Cathedral attendants.
There is hardly any Saint as enigmatic and ambiguous as Saint Ursula. Highly venerated as the city’s patron by the locals, the St. Ursula church in the Old Town was dedicated to her. The Romano-British princess represents the Diana/Artemis archetype, the Roman/Greek divine huntress, as well as the Germanic Holda and her Wild Hunt. Ursula legends recall the female traditions of the pan-European culture telling about maiden self-will, feminine assertiveness and untamed desire for freedom. Numerous interrelations exist between Ursula, Carnival or “Fasching” traditions, in particular “Weiberfastnacht” (Women’s Carnival) or the so-called “Nonsensical Thursday”, whether in Cologne, in South Germany or the whole Alpine area.
Heyday in the Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, Cologne experienced another economic upswing: from around the 12th to the 15th century, it was the most highly populated and one of the most prosperous towns within the German-speaking area. Cologne citizens came to political and economic power after having gained a military victory over the Archbishop and Town Lord Sigfried II von Westerburg in the Battle of Worringen in 1288. Nevertheless, Cologne was declared Free Imperial Town not before 1475. In 1388, the citizenry founded the first municipal university. Cologne soon played an important role as co-founder of the Hanseatic League and as trade fair centre. Unique churches and works of art, the fortification remains and numerous community centres, such as the Town Hall, Gürzenich festival hall, Patrician Overstolzenhaus, give an impression of the wealth and piety of “Holy Cologne”.
France and Prussia determine Cologne’s development
As a result of the discovery of America, the introduction of new economic models and commercial channels as well as the creation of new nation states in Europe, Cologne fell into a recession which lasted until the 19th century. Political power also declined: in 1794 French revolutionary troops occupied the city; in 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Prussia. Cologne used the new development potentials offered by the Industrial Revolution early to gradually incorporate large parts of its environs. The local politicians practised prudent policies towards Prussia and the German Empire. The nationwide revived enthusiasm for Cologne’s past favoured a new immense economic boom for the city that still continues – despite the disastrous consequences of two world wars.