A Tale of Water and Stones

Mini replica of the Roman waterline to Cologne in the „Information Center Roman Waterline“ in the town of Rheinbach. Picture taken by me in 2019.

How did young Roman Cologne function: Let’s take a look at Cologne’s long and high efficent waterline and massive stone wall. Being 95 kilometers/60 miles long, Roman Cologne’s was the longest waterline in Europe north of the Alpes. It would transport 20 Mio. Litres of water into that city every day. Cologne’s Roman city wall was so mighty that is was used for 1,100 years. And still, it is used in many parts in the city. Especially the Roman watch towers. Learn more about these fascinating structures in this episode of The History of Cologne Podcast. Next episode May 18th!

Listen to this episode!


The Roman waterline for Cologne

Reconstruction of the Roman waterline bridge near the town of Mechernich in the low mountain range Eifel. The Picture taken by me in 2012.
One of many sinking bassin of the waterline. Here sediment could sink to keep the water clean and free of dirt. The Picture taken by me in 2012.
Collecting basin of the waterline somewhere in the Eifel. As you can see there are several connections to maintain a high flow of water. The stones on the ground were left on purpose. They were meant as filters to keep the water clean. The Picture taken by me in 2012.
Another distributing and collecting bassin from above. Like most parts, the Roman waterline went underground to prevent the water from freezing in winter. The Picture taken by me in 2012.
How waterline bridges were built. symbolic picture

The Roman Sewage in Cologne

Roman sewer in Cologne Von © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77674858
Roman sewer in Cologne Von © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77674880

Raised section of the underground Roman sewer. This had to be moved to the surface in order to lay modern water pipes. Picture taken by me in 2017.

The Roman City Wall

The most famous Roman watchtower in Cologne. Picture taken by me in 2019. This is the one where the famous “Panzerduell”, the tank battle in 1945 happened.
As you can see, this watchtower has been integrated into a private building. In the Middle Ages it was used as a toilet by a franciscian monestary. 😀 Picture taken by me in 2019.
A few meters away from the tower there are large parts of the Roman City wall. Besides being tall anyway, it used to be way higher. 8 meters or 9 yards in height. Von I, VollwertBIT, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2474310
This is the part of the Roman City Wall that fell victim to vandalism. And it is today in an even worsened state. Von HOWI – Horsch, Willy – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2035062
A part of the Roman city wall in present day Cologne in Mauritiussteinweg. Von HOWI – Horsch, Willy – Eigenes Werk, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15358987

Internet page about the Roman City Wall by the Roman-Germanic-Museum of Cologne. Link here

“Panzerduell” – tank battle of Cologne 1945

Picture of the upcoming famous Panzerduell in Cologne on March 6th, 1945. US soldiers are coming from the west, fighting their way into downtown. On the right you can see the Roman watchtower. By a mircale no bombs had hit it. In the far distance, about 800 meters away you can see the Cologne Cathedral. After years of bombing, the cathedral was the only orientation point in the city. From there the enemy German Panther tank will soon shoot at these US soldiers. The last battle of WW2 in Cologne.
Here, you can see a short movie about the Panzerduell with English commentary. But be advised. These images show war images. So be warned!

Later use of the Roman City Wall in medieval times

Here you can see how the houses are built on top of the wall. You can still see the two towers in between too. (in the middle) click to enlarge
In the middle you can also seen how the wall is still used as a foundation for houses. In the south you even see a Roman gate and further up north another watchtower.
As you can see, the Roman city wall was also used to demarch your property. The foundation of one tower is also used for the apsis of the church St. Aposteln.

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