While strolling through the south city on my way to brunch I was reminded of the love for the city of Cologne. My love for this place I call home even though I don’t have a place there yet and the love of its inhabitants and those who once lived there.
Cologne people have this very deep attachment for their city and they are not shy about it. Everywhere in the city you find huge billboard like “Liebe deine Stadt” (love your city) or “home is where the Dom (Cathedral) is”.
This is on stickers on the back of cars all over the country even when people left the city years ago, you have at least on pictures of the Cologne Dom in all the houses (including mine in the US) and there are all those carnival songs that people know by heart or the Viva Colonia and the anthems of the FC Köln ( City soccer club). I remember very clearly the first time I went to watch fireworks on the Rhine for Rhein Lichter and there were a million people there singing all those songs in perfect unisson on each side of the river. I was so touched by it and by the fact that I felt like I belonged in this foreign city.
I don’t know why Kölners are so attached to their city. My guess is that they have such a different history from the rest of Germany with their Roman history (its name comes from Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium), it’s independent statute as a possession of the Catholic Church or the French revolutionary and napoleonic time and more recently the hardship that follows the end of WWII (the city was destroyed to 75%. and only the Dom was standing in the old city which was destroyed to 90%).
I also love Cologne with its ugly post war building, the messy and sometimes trashy streets, the insolence and raw honesty of its inhabitants and the way they accept people from anywhere as long as they follow the city tradition. We might be pushed out to a neighboring town by the real estate price but one thing is already sure… there will always be a sweet spot in my heart for Cologne wherever I go.