During World War Two, Cologne was pounded by more than two hundred and sixty air strikes which killed around twenty thousand people and, eventually, the city centre was reduced by a staggering ninety five percent. The Jewish population had been removed by the Nazis and all the synagogues had been demolished. Even twelve of the Romanesque churches had been destroyed taking with them a mass of cultural treasures. However, a massive rebuild started soon after the war ended, which now sees Cologne being an ultra-modern city albeit with several ancient buildings that were refurbished.
As Cologne straddles the river, it is primarily flat. It is thought that the first people to settle in the area date back to around forty years before Jesus was born. It was the Romans who founded Colonia, as it was known then, so there are many sites which are being excavated to find treasures from that time. One of the more recent large finds was a nineteen hundred year old boat.