known as Cologne, this is the city famous
for, among other things, sieben und fierzich
elf, which, Santa notwithstanding, is
not a variation on elves. It's
4711, Kölnischwasser, or cologne.
No, the city isn't named
after cologne--it's the other way around.
The city's name is derived from colonia,
Latin for "colony." This
is an old city, almost 2,000 years old,
in fact, and underneath the rollerbladers
and street musicians surrounding the city's
signature cathedral (the Dom--more
on that in a bit) they're still uncovering
that Roman legacy.
The main part of
Köln is clustered on the west bank of the
storied Rhine River. What look like
charming Altstadt (Old City) buildings
bunched in colorful array along the waterfront
are really reconstructions of the originals,
as much of the riverfront had been levelled
during Allied World War II bombing campaigns.
Köln's skyline is indeed defined by the
Dom--the massive cathedral whose
twin spires rise some 500 feet over the
Altstadt. You can climb the
southern spire (on the inside, of course!)
-- countless hundreds of spiral steps that
bring you to a platform some 300 feet up.
There, you can share the view with
the pigeons that flap through the openings
in the cut stone.
The Dom is among
the most massive of structures in Europe.
Begun in the thirteenth century, it
was a center of work and community, as were
most European cathedrals, for hundreds of
Dom in the evening, from the Rhine