The city of Cologne has been continually changing since it was first settled over 2000 years ago. Now Germany’s fourth-largest city and the cultural center of the Western German Rhineland, Cologne was founded by Germanic tribes in 38 BC, and has since that time belonged to the ancient Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon’s French Republic, and later the Germanic Kingdom of Prussia, before becoming part of modern Germany. The city of Cologne offers one of Germany’s most popular sites for tourists, the Cologne Cathedral, a World Heritage Site of Gothic architecture which dates back to 1248.
In the 20th century, Cologne was devastated by bombings during World War II. After considerable post-war reconstruction, Cologne has more recently developed into one of Germany’s cultural hubs. Before German unification in 1990, Cologne’s art and museum life formed, in many ways, the cultural pulse of West Germany due to its closeness to Bonn, the political center and former capital of West Germany. Relics of the city’s ancient history complement Cologne’s modern museum and art scene, making a visit to this charming city on the Rhine a true delight.