Quake makes sleepy German town tremble

Residents of a suburb of Cologne were jolted from their sleep on Tuesday morning when an earthquake hit western Germany.

Quake makes sleepy German town tremble
Tremors registered at the earthquake station in Bensberg. Photo: DPA

Phones at the local police station were ringing off the hook as shaken locals called in to report the incident, Focus magazine reports.

“We can confirm that the earthquake took place. So far twelve people have called in to tell us about it,” a spokesperson for the police in Bergheim said.

“Concerned residents mentioned shaking wardrobes,” the spokesperson continued, adding that “we’re in contact with the fire services.”

Witnesses reported that the tremors lasted around five seconds and were “surprising, sharp and short.”

Authorities are now checking houses for possible damage.

A spokesperson for the fire services said that people reported their houses shaking and hearing strange noises.

The earthquake station in Bensberg confirmed that the quake registered 2.7 on the Richter scale and that the epicentre was a kilometer underneath the ground in Bergheim.

According to Focus the quake was likely caused by mining in the region.

Locals took to social media to write about their experience of the tremors, with some claiming they were ripped from their sleep by the convulsions.

“What the hell? The whole house shook” wrote one person on Twitter.

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Ancient Jewish settlement to be brought back to life in Cologne

No city north of the Alps has been home to Jews for as long as the Roman settlement of Cologne. A recently discovered Jewish quarter is now being brought back to life.

Ancient Jewish settlement to be brought back to life in Cologne
The site of the construction in Cologne. Photo: DPA

If you are a tourist walking through the centre of Cologne, sooner rather than later, you'll come across a construction site located in the very best position, in the middle of the town hall square.

At the beginning of this millennium, the people of Cologne dug into the earth directly in front of their historic city hall and found a treasure from another millennium: the Jewish quarter.

Complete with a dance hall, a hospital, a bakery and a synagogue, the quarter contains the ruins of a settlement from the Middle Ages. It is a city within a city, a miniature world of houses huddled together. 

Of course, all that is left is ruins – one needs a bit of imagination to picture how the whole thing once looked. But experts from Germany and abroad agree: there's nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

Ancient tradition

No other German city has been associated with Jewish history for so long as Cologne. 

The first documented Jewish community dates back to the year 321, making it the oldest north of the Alps. 

But in 1349, the neighbourhood was destroyed and its inhabitants were murdered or expelled. Local Christians blamed Jews for the outbreak of the plague.

Currently, a museum is being built over the site on the town hall square. It will be a parallel world underground: visitors will be able to relive life in the Jewish quarter in the era of knights and minstrels on a 600-meter-long trail. The trail also visits the governor's palace from Roman times, which was rediscovered in the 1950s. 

The museum is called MiQua after the name for the Jewish ritual bath, Mikveh.

Exhibits will include artifacts found during the excavations; among them is a crescent-shaped, gem-set gold earring from the 11th century. 

The researchers also discovered a tablet dating back to the Middle Ages with the inscription “yt in ys neyt anders.” This could be translated as “Et is wie et is” (It is as it is) – a classic Cologne saying. 

The museum is scheduled to open in 2024, but through the panorama windows on the third floor of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, also located on Rathausplatz, one can already follow the progress of construction work.

This year Jewish life will be celebrated across the country – the anniversary year '1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany' will be celebrated nationwide. 

Hamburg is organising a themed week entitled 'More than Little Jerusalem'; in Nuremberg the photo exhibition 'Germany's Emigrants' will be opened; and in Herxheim in Rhineland-Palatinate the play Judas by Lot Vekemans will be staged.

READ MORE: 9 hilarious gifts Judaism gave the German language