Removal of Cologne Cathedral from city logo causes controversy


Central Europe


Old and new logo. Photo Wikimedia Commons

Cologne Cathedral is the most famous landmark of the German city on the Rhine. Nevertheless, the city council has decided to remove the building from its logo. The decision has provoked a storm of criticism among the city's inhabitants.

At the end of last month, the Cologne city administration presented a new city logo. The new trademark is to replace the previous logo after about 20 years. According to a market analysis commissioned by the city, the existing logo is now "unfashionable, stale, bulky, emotionless." That was reported earlier by German media, under which the German website katholisch.de.

The city justifies the logo change primarily referring to digital requirements. The current logo, about 20 years old, is very complex. It consists of several parts and thus no longer meets modern requirements – especially in the digital age. Many people look at pages via their smartphone and its comparatively small screen, a press release says. The logo will be reduced in size. The new appearance should be visible from summer onwards.

The Dom church in Cologne. Photo AFP, Patrik Stollarz

This argument does not convince several social media users and representatives of the city's society. Cologne's cathedral dean Robert Kleine, for example, told Domradio that the city was giving up something of its uniqueness: "I wonder if it's so good to let the cathedral disappear." Objections also come from Cologne's former mayor Fritz Schramma, during whose term of office the old logo was introduced. In several media, he called on the people of Cologne to "resist" the change.


Kleine, by the way, doubts that the new trademark is a sign of advancing secularisation even in Cologne, which was once so Catholic, as some critics suspected. "I think people want to follow a trend and move with the times. Everything is somehow being objectified, and the cathedral has been kicked out in the process. Other cities are already putting their landmarks back into their logos and are proud that they have something to advertise," the clergyman explained.

The city has confirmed that religious reasons did not play a role in removing the cathedral from the logo. "Cologne's Christian history is still in the logo – in the form of our city emblem," the city spokesperson told the German news agency DPA. The three crowns, reminiscent of the Three Wise Men, appear in the logo. "It could hardly be more Christian."

World Heritage

The city council does not want to back down from the plans. "The change in branding is a done deal," a spokesperson has declared. "That also includes the new logo – there will be no subsequent change."

The Cologne Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church with the famous two spires, was begun in 1248 and completed in 1880 – a building period of 632 years. It was bombed during World War II and reopened in 1956.

The Gothic church, with the second-highest spire in Northern Europe, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.



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