However, something I saw on my first day in the city underlined, rather poignantly, how far from the truth this belief was...
I was at the awesome cathedral, a structure that dominates the skyline, over six hundred years in construction and standing defiantly despite two world wars having raged around it. As I marvelled at the cathedral, my gaze traced the ornate carvings all the way down from the spires. Then, as my eyes came to ground level, they fell upon the Roman North Gate of old Colonia Agrippina (see pic).
The gargantuan cathedral seemed to be trying to swallow this tiny, crumbling piece of history. It set me thinking: after the Romans came, the Ubii and those Germanic tribes who had inhabited the surrounding lands must have looked on at some tumbling ruin or landmark of their own, doubtless dwarfed by Roman architecture in a similiar fashion.
I stood there for some time, just trying to get a measure of the phases of history that must have come and gone like this not only here, but the world over; each era seemingly eternal at its height, then cold and distant as it tumbled into memory, just like the North Gate.
Gordon Doherty: writer, history fan, explorer.
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