Program Allows Virtual Tour of Ancient Roman Cologne

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A new computer program will allow the curious to see Cologne, Germany's fourth-largest city, as it was almost 2,000 years ago, when it was a major northern outpost of the Roman Empire.

"Now, for the first time, people will be able to visualize what an amazing city Cologne already was in antiquity," said Hansgerd Hellenkemper, the director of the city's Romano-Germanic Museum.

The city's history stretches back to 38 B.C. After Julius Caesar pushed the empire north during his conquest of Gaul in the mid-first century B.C., the Romans resettled the Germanic Ubii tribe on the banks Rhine River. In 50 A.D., the settlement was granted the status of an official Roman city and was given the name Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. The city grew to be a major trading center, a status it still preserves today.

The program allows visitors to use a computer mouse to navigate a virtual "flight" around the city, where they will find impressive sights, such as the massive city wall and its monumental gates, the forum, the over 40-meter-high (130-foot) Capitoline Temple, the forum with its semicircular portico and the proconsul's palace.

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