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Europe

The European continent was named after beautiful Phoenician woman called Europa.

Europe

When Zeus have seen Agenor's daughter Europa gathering flowers he immediately fell in love with her.

Places that I've seen and I like

There are a lot of cities and nice places in Germany, many of them having profound significance in the history of Germany and some in the history of the whole Europe. I will describe only these that I have visited myself, thus you may not find many very interesting cities and sites. But this only means that I was not there.

The places and sites are described on a few pages and put in the alphabetic order. Almost all photographs are taken by me using my amateur Panasonic camera.

Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt am Main and Freiburg im Breisgau

Cologne

Cologne has population of about 1 million and is Germany's fourth-largest city after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. It is the largest city both in the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the 10 million people Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area. The city is located on both sides of the Rhine River. The famous Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. The University of Cologne is one of Europe's oldest and largest universities.

Cologne entrance to the Old Rathause Colgne 19 century building
View on the Old Rathause tower View on the Cologne Cathedral

The first urban settlement was Oppidum Ubiorum, which was founded in 38 BC by the Germanic tribe Ubii. During the Romans Colonia became the provincial capital of Germania Inferior in 85 AD. Considerable Roman remains can be found in present-day Cologne, especially near the wharf area, where a notable discovery of a 1900 year old Roman boat was made in late 2007. From 260 to 271 Cologne was the capital of the Gallic Empire. In 310 under Constantine a bridge was built over the Rhine at Cologne.

Maternus, who was elected as bishop in 313, was the first known bishop of Cologne. The city was the capital of a Roman province until it was occupied by the Franks in 462. In 785, Cologne became the seat of an archbishopric.

Cologne market Cologne houses
Cologne houses 2 Cologne old narrow streets 1
Cologne old narrow streets 2 Cologne old narrow streets 3

During the time of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, the Archbishop of Cologne was one of the seven prince-electors and one of the three ecclesiastical electors. Cologne's location on the river Rhine placed it at the intersection of the major trade routes between east and west and was the basis of Cologne's growth. Cologne was a member of the Hanseatic League and became a Free Imperial City in 1475. The economic structures of medieval and early modern Cologne were characterized by the city's status as a major harbour and transport hub upon the Rhine. Craftsmanship was organized by self-administering guilds, some of which were exclusive to women.

Besides its economic and political significance Cologne also became an important centre of medieval pilgrimage, when Cologne's Archbishop Rainald of Dassel gave the relics of the Three Wise Men to Cologne's cathedral in 1164 after they had been captured from Milan. Besides the three magi Cologne preserves the relics of Saint Ursula and Albertus Magnus.

View on Sint Martin church Neighberhoud of Sint Martin church
Another view on Sint Martin church Once more view on Sint Martin

As a free city Cologne was a sovereign state within the Holy Roman Empire and as such had the right and obligation to maintain its own military force. Wearing a red uniform these troops were known as the Rote Funken (red sparks). These soldiers were part of the Army of the Holy Roman Empire and fought in the wars of the 17th and 18th century, including the wars against revolutionary France, when the small force was almost completely wiped out in combat.

The free city of Cologne must not be confused with the Archbishopric of Cologne which was a state of its own within the Holy Roman Empire. Due to the free status of Cologne, the archbishops were usually not allowed to enter the city. Thus they took up residence in Bonn and later in Brühl on the Rhine. Finally Cologne lost its status as a free city during the French period. According to the Peace Treaty of Lunéville in 1801 all the territories of the Holy Roman Empire on the left bank of the Rhine were officially incorporated into the French Republic which already had occupied Cologne in 1798. Thus this region later became part of Napoleon's Empire. In 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, Cologne was made part of the Kingdom of Prussia, first in the Jülich-Cleves-Berg province and then the Rhine province.

Rihne river Rhine river 2
Houses in Cologne on the Rihne side 1 Houses in Cologne on the Rihne side 2

The permanent tensions between the Roman Catholic Rhineland and the overwhelmingly Protestant Prussian state repeatedly escalated with Cologne being in the focus of the conflict. In 1837 the archbishop Clemens of Cologne was arrested and imprisoned for two years after a dispute over the legal status of marriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics. In 1874 during the Kulturkampf, Archbishop Paul was imprisoned before taking refuge in the Netherlands. These conflicts alienated the Catholic population from Berlin and contributed to a deeply felt anti-Prussian resentment.

View on the Cologne Cathedral Cologne Cathedral
Entrance to Cologne Cathdral Towers of 155 meters of the Cologne Cathedral
Stained glass window 1 Stained glass window 2 Stained glass window 3 Stained glass window 4

Construction of Cologne Cathedral commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880. It is 144.5 metres long, 86.5 m wide and its towers are approximately 157 m tall. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires and largest facade of any church in the world. The choir has the largest height to width ratio, 3.6:1, of any medieval church. Cologne's medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral eventually became unified as "a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value" and "a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe".

Inside Colgne Cathedral Side altar in Cologne Cathedral
Arc with relics of Three Wise Man Main altar with Arc with relics of Three Wise Man
Inside the Colgne Cathedral Inside Colgne Cathedral 2
One of the Cruis Way Stations The last Station of the Cross Way in Cologne Cathedral

The cathedral suffered seventy hits by aerial bombs during World War II. It did not collapse, but stood tall in an otherwise flattened city. The great twin spires are said to have been used as an easily recognizable navigational landmark by Allied aircraft raiding deeper into Germany in the later years of the war, which may be a reason that the cathedral was not destroyed.

The repairs to the building were completed in 1956. In the northwest tower's base, an emergency repair carried out in 1944 with bad-quality brick taken from a nearby war ruin remained visible until 2005 as a reminder of the war, but then it was decided to reconstruct this section according to its original appearance.

Cologne in 16 century
Cologne in 1945 after bombardment View on Cathedral in 1945 Cologne in 1945

Above Cologne in 16 century, below Cologne in 1945 after bombardement.

During World War II, Cologne was a Military Area Command Headquarters for the Military District VI of Münster. Cologne was under the command of Lieutenant-General Freiherr Roeder von Diersburg, who was responsible for military operations in Bonn, Siegburg, Aachen, Jülich, Düren, and Monschau. During the Bombing of Cologne in World War II, Cologne endured 262 air raids by the Western Allies, which caused approximately 20,000 civilian casualties and almost completely wiped out the centre of the city. By the end of the war, the population of Cologne had been reduced by 95%. This loss was mainly caused by a massive evacuation of the people to more rural areas. At the end of 1945, the population had already risen to about 500,000 again.

Evening panorama of Cologne

Panorama of Cologne in summer day.

In 1945 architect and urban planner Rudolf Schwarz called Cologne the "world's greatest heap of rubble." Schwarz designed the master plan of reconstruction in 1947, which called for the construction of several new thoroughfares through the downtown area, especially the Nord-Süd-Fahrt ("North-South-Drive"). The master plan took into consideration the fact that even shortly after the war a large increase in automobile traffic could be anticipated. Plans for new roads had already, to a certain degree, evolved under the Nazi administration, but the actual construction became easier in times when the majority of downtown lots were undeveloped.

Cologne panorama at night

Cologne at night

The destruction of 95% of the city centre including the famous Twelve Romanesque churches like St. Gereon, Great St. Martin, St. Maria im Kapitol and several other monuments meant a tremendous loss of cultural treasures. The rebuilding of those churches and other landmarks was not undisputed among leading architects and art historians at that time, but in most cases, civil intention prevailed. The reconstruction lasted until the 1990s, when the Romanesque church of St. Kunibert was finished. In 1959, the city's population reached pre-war numbers again. It then grew steadily, exceeding 1 million for about one year from 1975. It has remained just below that until mid 2010, when it exceeded 1 million again.

Dresden

Although Dresden is a relatively recent city of Slavic origin, the area had been settled in the Neolithic era by Linear Pottery culture tribe’s ca. 7500 BC. Dresden's founding and early growth is associated with the eastward expansion of Germanic peoples, mining in the nearby Ore Mountains, and the establishment of the Margraviate of Meissen. Its name etymologically derives from Old Slavic Sorbian Drežďany, meaning people of the riverside forest. Dresden later evolved into the capital of Saxony.

Around the late 12th century, a Slavic settlement called Drežďany had developed on the southern bank. It was known as Antiqua Dresdin verifiable since 1350 and later as Altendresden, both literally "old Dresden". Dietrich, Margrave of Meissen, chose Dresden as his interim residence in 1206.and after 1270, Dresden became the capital of the margraviate. It was restored to the Wettin dynasty in about 1319. From 1485, it was the seat of the dukes of Saxony, and from 1547 the electors as well.

Dresden 1 Elbe in Dresden
Operaplatz Opera

The Elector and ruler of Saxony Frederick Augustus I became King August the Strong of Poland in personal union. He gathered many of the best musicians, architects and painters from all over Europe to Dresden. His reign marked the beginning of Dresden's emergence as a leading European city for technology and art. Friedrich Schiller wrote his Ode to Joy (the literary base of the European anthem) for the Dresden Masonic Lodge in 1785.

Zwinger in Dresden

During the final months of World War II, Dresden became a safe haven to some 600,000 refugees, including women, children, and wounded soldiers, with a total population of 1.2 million. Dresden was attacked seven times between 1944 and 1945, and was occupied by the Red Army after German capitulation. The bombing of Dresden by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force between 13 February and 15 February 1945 remains one of the most controversial Allied actions of the Western European theatre of war.

Dresden 1945 Dresden 1945
Dresden 2011 Dresden 2011

Today after tens of years of reconstruction one can see black stones and white new stones in almost every historical building. The black stones are the original stones take out the rubbles and put in its place during reconstruction works. Regretfully, many stones could not be restored this way and the new stones were used instead. The old stones are not being cleaned to allow visitors to see which of them are authentic.

Church Our Lady (Frauenkirche) Interior of Fraunekirche

The Dresden Elbe Valley was an internationally recognised site of cultural significance by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for five years. After being placed on the list of endangered World Heritage Sites in 2006, the city had its status as world heritage site formally removed in June 2009, for the willful breach of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, due to the construction of a highway bridge across the valley within 2 km of the historic centre. It thereby became the first location ever in Europe to lose this status, and the second ever in the world.

Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt am Main, commonly known as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 citizens in 2010. The city is at the centre of the larger Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region which has a population of 5,600,000 and is Germany's second-largest metropolitan region.

Frankfurt panorama

Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe. It is seat of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks, e.g. Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and DZ Bank. Frankfurt Airport is one of the world's busiest international airports, Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe, and the Frankfurter Kreuz is one of the most heavily used Autobahn interchanges in Europe.

Wykopaliska Frankfurt by night

In the area of today’s’ city centre (Römer building), Roman settlements were established, probably in the 1st century; some artifacts from that era are found even to this day. Alemanni and Franks lived there and by 794, Charlemagne had presided over an imperial assembly and church synod.

Romer huizen Restaurant main square
Grazynka Main square

In the following Holy Roman Empire Frankfurt was one of the most important cities. From 855 the German kings and emperors were elected in Frankfurt and crowned in Aachen. From 1562 they were also crowned in Frankfurt. This tradition ended in 1792, when Franz II was elected.

The Frankfurter Messe (Frankfurt Trade Fair) was already mentioned in 1150. In 1372 Frankfurt became a Reichsstadt (Imperial city), i.e. directly subordinate to the Holy Roman Emperor and not to a regional ruler or a local nobleman.

Kathedral Inside Kathedral Inside Kathedral 2

In the Napoleonic Wars Frankfurt was occupied or bombarded several times by French troops. It nevertheless still remained a free city until the total collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in 1805. In 1806 it become part of the principality of Aschaffenburg under Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg. Napoleon intended to make his adopted son Eugène de Beauharnais, already Prince de Venise, Grand Duke of Frankfurt after Dalberg's death.

Opera Muzeum

After Napoleon's final defeat and abdication, the Congress of Vienna dissolved the grand-duchy, and Frankfurt entered the newly founded German Confederation (till 1866) as a free city, becoming the seat of its Bundestag. After the ill-fated revolution of 1848, Frankfurt was the seat of the first democratically elected German parliament, which met in the Frankfurter St. Paul's Church and was opened on 18 May 1848. The institution failed in 1849 when the Prussian king declared that he would not accept "a crown from the gutter". In the year of its existence, the assembly developed a common constitution for a unified Germany, with the Prussian king as its monarch.

Kathedral view Trade Fair Deutche Bank

The city of Frankfurt was severely bombed in World War II (1939–1945). About 5,500 residents were killed during the raids, and the once famous medieval city centre, by that time the largest in Germany, was destroyed. Post-war reconstruction took place in a sometimes simple modern style, thus irrevocably changing the architectural face of Frankfurt. Only few landmark buildings have been reconstructed historically.

Building 1 Frankfurt street
Frankfurt centre Frankfurt street 2

After the end of the war, Frankfurt was part of the American Zone of Occupation of Germany with headquarters in the IG Farben Building, intentionally left undamaged by the Allies' wartime bombardment. Frankfurt was the original choice for the provisional capital of West Germany—they even went as far as constructing a new parliament building that has never been used for its intended purpose.

Sint Paul church of first German Parliement Main platz - Frankfurt, noord view Kathedral tower

At the end, Konrad Adenauer preferred the tiny city of Bonn, mostly because it was closer to his hometown, but also for another reason; many other prominent politicians opposed the choice of Frankfurt fearing that Frankfurt, ones a former centre of the old German-dominated Holy Roman Empire, would be accepted as a "permanent" capital of Germany, thus weakening the West German population's support for reunification and eventual return of the Government to Berlin.

Freiburg im Breisgau

It is a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, in the extreme south-west of the country. It straddles the Dreisam River at the foot of the Schlossberg. It is famous old German university town and archiepiscopal seat. The city is also known for its high standard of living. Situated in the heart of a major wine-growing region it serves as the primary tourist entry point to the scenic beauty of the Black Forest. According to statistics, the city is the sunniest and the warmest in Germany.

Freiburg 1 Freiburg beurs

Freiburg was founded by Konrad and Duke Bertold III of Zähringen in 1120 as a free market town; hence its name, which translates to "free town". This town was strategically located at a junction of trade routes between the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea areas, and the Rhine and Danube rivers. In 1200, Freiburg's population numbered around 6,000 people. At about that time, the city began construction of its Freiburg Münster cathedral on the site of an older parish church. Begun in the Romanesque style, it was continued and completed 1513 for the most part as a Gothic cathedral.

Date Kathedral plus mensen
Kathedral South side Kathedral nawa glowna Kathedral window Kathedral nawa boczna

At the end of the 13th century there was a dispute between the citizens of Freiburg and their lord, Count Egino II of Freiburg. Egino raised taxes and sought to limit the citizens’ freedom, after which the Freiburgers used catapults to destroy the count's castle at the top of the hill Schloßberg. The furious count called his brother-in-law the Bishop of Strasbourg for help and he answered by marching with his army to Freiburg. Eventually the citizens were fed up with their lords, and in 1368 Freiburg purchased its independence from them. The city turned itself over to the protection of the Habsburgs, who allowed the city to retain a large measure of freedom.

Kathedral North side Northe site markt

The silver mines in Mount Schauinsland provided an important source of capital for Freiburg. This silver made Freiburg one of the richest cities in Europe, and in 1327 Freiburg minted its own coin. There were 8,000-9,000 people living in Freiburg between the 13th and 14th centuries, and 30 churches and monasteries. At the end of the 14th century the veins of silver were diminishing, and Freiburg evolved from its focus on mining to become a cultural center for the arts and sciences. In 1457, Albrecht VI, Regent of Further Austria, established Albert-Ludwigs University, one of Germany's oldest universities.

Freiburg Stadhouse 1 Freiburg nieuw beurs
Freiburg old herenhuis Freiburg old herenhuis 2

In 1520, Freiburg decided not to take part in the Reformation and became an important center for Catholicism on the Upper Rhine. In 1536, a strong and persistent belief in witchcraft led to the city's first witch-hunt. The need to find a scapegoat for calamities such as the Black Plague led to a witch-hunting that reached its peak in 1599. In 1827, when the Archdiocese of Freiburg was founded, Freiburg became the seat of a Catholic archbishop.

Old stathuis Old and new stathuis
Markethuis Markethuis corner

Freiburg was heavily bombed during World War II. First, in May 1940, aircraft of the Luftwaffe mistakenly dropped approximately 60 bombs on Freiburg. Later on, a raid by more than 300 bombers of RAF destroyed on 27 November 1944 a large portion of the city center, with the notable exception of the Münster. After the war, the city was rebuilt on its medieval plan.

Freiburg Dreisam River Freiburg's Bächle

Because of its scenic beauty, relatively warm and sunny climate, and easy access to the Black Forest, Freiburg is a hub for regional tourism. The longest cable car run in Germany runs from Günterstal up to a nearby mountain called Schauinsland. The city has an unusual system of gutters (called Bächle) that run throughout its centre. These Bächle, once used to provide water to fight fires and feed livestock, are constantly flowing with water diverted from the Dreisam. They were never used for sewage, and such use could lead to harsh penalties, even in the Middle Ages. During the summer, the running water provides natural cooling of the air, and offers a pleasant gurgling sound. It is said that if you fall or step accidentally into a Bächle, you will marry a Freiburger, or 'Bobbele'.