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International > The picture of the week > Tourist attractions of Aachen

Picture of the week (No.25): Tourist attractions of Aachen (Germany).                              Share

Each week (actually currently 1 or 2 times a month), Willgoto selects here a nice picture. The tourist attractions of Aachen in Germany and, more specifically, the cathedral treasure are the theme of the twenty-fifth picture of this series.

The Cathedral of Aachen is indeed part of the world heritage. It is even one of the 12 very first sites that were inscribed on UNESCO's list at the beginning of the list in 1978 along with other famous sites around the world such as the historic center of Kraków (Poland), the rock-carved churches of Lalibela (Ethiopia), the island of Gorée (Senegal), Yellowstone National Park (USA) and the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador).

Aachen Cathedral Treasure
The bust reliquary of Charlemagne is part of the treasure of Aachen Cathedral in Germany (bust protected in a window).

The country. Aachen is the westernmost town in Germany: it is located only a few kilometers from the crossing of the borders of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. In addition to this privileged geographical location, the main tourist asset of Aachen is its remarkable cultural heritage. The site has been occupied since prehistoric times. The Romans had established there a military base which gave birth to the city in the year 124.

Charlemagne made of Aix-la-Chapelle the place of his main residence and the capital of his empire. He had a sumptuous palace built, which rivaled the palaces of Byzantium by the use of precious metals and the quality of its works of art. Charlemagne brings together in this palace the most brilliant minds of his time. From this palace, there remains only the chapel and archaeological remains.

In the XVII and XIX centuries, Aachen was a spa town visited by wealthy guests.

Today, Aix-la-Chapelle is home to several renowned high schools. One out of five inhabitants of the city is a student. Four weeks before Christmas, one of the most important Christmas markets is held in the center of the city.

Aachen tourism. The city has many tourist attractions based mainly on its prestigious heritage.

Aachen Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe: around 800, Charlemagne built an impressive collegiate church in the shape of an octagonal rotunda encircled by a two-story gallery and topped with an exceptional cupola. It is dedicated to Saint Mary. The main building of the Imperial Palace was located in front of the collegiate church.

Several constructions of various shapes and, in particular, a large monumental nave were added to the collegiate church mainly in the XIV and XV centuries. The choir windows are 25.6 m high and remain among the largest gothic windows. In 1930, St Mary's became an episcopal church (cathedral). The current cathedral is made up of different parts dating from different eras. As noted above, UNESCO has recognized from the outset the value of this remarkable heritage.

Charlemagne was buried in the cathedral in 814 and the young emperor Otto III nearly two hundred years later. Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, and Lothair I, grandson of Charlemagne, were crowned emperors in the cathedral. In consideration of this prestigious Carolingian past, all the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were crowned in Aachen Cathedral for 600 years. The cathedral houses four major relics of Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist.  An important pilgrimage to these relics takes place every 7 years since 1349.

The treasure of the cathedral, made up of masterpieces that have been gathered in the cathedral over the centuries, has since 1979 been housed in a part of the cloister located not far from the church. This museum includes among others the bust-reliquary of Charlemagne, other precious gothic reliquaries of the emperor, the Persephone sarcophagus dating from the III century (marble sarcophagus where Charlemagne was buried from 814 to 1165), the cross of Lothaire, the Crown of Marguerite of York (third wife of Charles the Bold), the famous Aachen Altar dating from the XVI century (a passion triptych that is nearly 5 m wide ) and various masterpieces of goldsmith of great value.

In the 14th century, a prestigious gothic Town Hall was built on the walls of the former imperial Palace which had meanwhile been heavily degraded. It performs a dual function: the seat of the administration of the city and the celebration hall for the greatest festivities of the empire. Following various fires, the towers of the town hall were replaced by other higher ones in baroque style in the XVII century and then by neo-gothic towers in the XIX century. Damaged during the Second World War, the building was later restored. The Prix Charlemagne is awarded each year in the town hall of Aachen. It honors persons for outstanding contributions to the unification of Europe.

At the end of the twentieth century, the Charlemagne Center was also built on the site of a part of the palace of Charlemagne. This modern building is home to the new Municipal Museum of Aachen dedicated to the history of the city.

The Elisenbrunnen (Fountains of Elise), which date from 1827, is another emblematic building of Aachen. They are named after Elisabeth of Bavaria. The two fountains that feed it are made of highly sulfurous hot water. These baths were visited among others by Peter the Great of Russia and Casanova. The building is now used for various cultural events.

Aachen has many other tourist and cultural attractions such as the Ludwig Forum Museum (international art) and the Grashaus (one of the oldest non-religious buildings in downtown). It also hosts other important events such as the German CHIO (equestrian international competition) every summer.

Aix-la-Chapelle is an ideal destination for a city-trip.

The author of the pictures
. The above pictures belong to Willgoto.

See also:
Picture of the week 1: Bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. It is endemic to Cuba.
Picture of the week 2: Pagoda of the Golden Rock in Myanmar. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
Picture of the week 3: Seychelles beach. Seychelles is a perfect destination for a dream holiday.
Picture of the week 4: Lemur of Madagascar (Coquerel's sifaka), an endangered species of primates, which, like all other species of lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar.
Picture of the week 5: World heritage in Cambodia. The temple of Banteay Srei, better known as 'Citadel of the women', in Cambodia is a jewel of Khmer art and a world heritage site.
Picture of the week 6: Bull shark and tiger shark. Both sharks are unfortunately known for fatal attacks on humans. However, experienced divers can approach them and swim with them.
Picture of the week 7: Firewalking in Mauritius. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice.

And many more pictures of the week including:
Picture of the week 19: The Beaches of Isla Mujeres(Cancun). They are much appreciated by holidaymakers, especially those who come from Europe and the United States in winter.
Picture of the week 20: Tourist attractions of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka offers a wide range of attractions that make it a tourist destination visited by a growing amount of holidaymakers.
Picture of the week 21: Tourist attractions of Thailand. The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai, famous for its whiteness as pure as unusual, is one of the many attractions of Thailand.
Picture of the week 22: The Mekong Falls, better known as Khone Falls, located in southern Laos only a few kilometers from Cambodia prevent navigation between the two countries.
Picture of the week 23: Sloths of Tropical America, These mammals are so named because they sleep a long time and they only move slowly.
Picture of the week 24: Tulum, the Pearl of the Mayan Riviera, Tulum is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Riviera Maya in Mexico.

See all our "Pictures of the week".


 

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The Cathedral of Aachen and its Treasure are the main tourist attractions of the city. They have been inscribed on the UNESCO list since its beginning in 1978 along with eleven of the most famous heritage sites in the world.