The construction of Aachen’s scenic cathedral began in 796 AD under the Emperor Charlemagne and is considered the oldest chapel in Northern Europe. The building draws influences from Eastern churches of the Holy Roman Empire and was further extended in the Middle Ages in the then-fashionable Gothic style. The 74 meter high tower was added to the church as recently as 1884, resulting in a combination of different styles and an architectural construction of unifying elegance. Aachen’s beloved Charlemagne was buried here in 814 and his bones still rest in the Shrine of Charles near to the still-intact imperial throne.
Address: Domhof 1, 52062 Aachen, Germany, + 49 241 477090
Aachen’s Ludwig Forum for International Art exhibits a dazzling range of European art and its development from the early 1960s to modernity. Contemporary works include videos, performances, live art and other multimedia productions, featured in the Forum’s permanent collections, which exhibit artists such as Hanson, Beuys, Vostell and Lichtenstein, as well as numerous masterpieces of American pop art and photorealism. The museum’s combination of visual dialogue, establishing a relationship with different types of visitors, is brilliantly enhanced through its use of dance, theater, film, and fashion performance, thereby presenting the Ludwig Forum as a multidisciplinary home for contemporary arts.
Address: Jülicher Str. 97-109, 52070 Aachen, Germany, +49 241 1807104
The Treasury belongs to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Aachen and is regarded as one of the most significant collections of medieval church artworks in Europe. The ecclesiastic treasury covers works from the late Antique, Carolingian, Ottonian and Staufian epochs. The most notable exhibits are the Cross of Lothair, the Bust of Charlemagne and the Persephone sarcophagus. Coronations and it’s pilgrimage tradition have resulted in one of the most magnificent church treasures, which, along with the Charlemagne’s Cathedral, were the first to be entered in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1978. An absolute staple for those wishing to learn about Aachen’s cultural importance.
Address: Klostergasse 2, 52062 Aachen, Germany, + 49 241 47709127
In the early 14th century, Aachen’s bourgeoisie built the Gothic town hall on the ruins of the Carolingian Palace of Charlemagne. In the 17th and 18th centuries the buildings were rebuilt in Baroque styles. When the city council isn’t in session, the hall and its magnificent rooms are open to the public. The Gothic Coronation Room, with its famous Rethel frescoes, is among the most impressive attractions and was used for dazzling feasts after coronations from 813 to 1531. Additionally the museum features replicas of the imperial crown jewels. The town hall is part of the Rote Charlemagne, a tour exploring Charlemagne’s influence and the history of Aachen.
Address: Markt, 52062 Aachen, Germany, + 49 241 4327310
The origin of Aachen’s Printen, a type of Lebkuchen similar to gingerbread, is surrounded by numerous legends and stories, and are a protected product, with all manufacturers found close to Aaachen. The sweet cakes are truly unique and a tasty reflection of the region’s culinary roots, and can be found in numerous shops throughout the city. Bronze casters from Dinant in Belgium were the first to bring their so-called ‘Gebildbrot’ to Aachen around 350 years ago, and the delicacies quickly found their way into the local kitchen. Don’t miss out on this sweet treat, the city produces more than 4,500 tons of Printen dough and the sugary treats have become a true emblem of Aachen.
Aachen’s market place features numerous important tourist attractions from the town hall to the Katschof, the site of the Carolingian palace courtyard. The International Newspaper Museum houses more than 200,000 papers from all over the world, including various first editions. The square is shaped in the form of a triangle and connects the city’s major roads. The center of the square is marked by the Kaiserbrunnen, the emperor’s well, a historic relic of Aachen’s past.
The Elisenbrunnen, or Elisa Fountain, is considered to be the emblem of Aachen and signifies the importance of the city as a bathing and thermal region, dating back to Roman times. It was constructed between 1822 and 1827 based on drafts by Johann Peter Cremer and Karl Friedrich Schinkel, its name having been granted by the crown princess Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria. The open pillared hall and the two lateral pavilions are considered prime examples of neoclassical architecture. Numerous marble plaques list the names of famous visitors to Aachen’s spa, to mention but two: Händel and Casanova.
The Couven Museum is located in the place of Aachen’s former weigh house and features a collection of historical furniture. The building was renovated in 1786 in the rococo style and dates back to as far as 1662. It is a prime example of Aachen’s architectural past. The elegant rooms give an insight into the preferred style of the former upper-middle-class: rococo, early classicism, Napoleonic empire style and Biedermeier. Exhibits include high-quality furniture as well as chimney pieces and Italian stucco work. The Couven Museum is also home to the historic Adler-Apotheke where chocolate was produced in 1857 in Germany for the first time.
Address: Hühnermarkt 17, 52062 Aachen, Germany, +49 241 4324421
The museum is located on the Katschhof, the former Palace Courtyard between the Cathedral and the historic town hall, and offers an insight into the history of Aachen from Neolithic times to the present, as well as tracing the influential impact of Charlemagne on Aachen’s history. The life and legend of Charlemagne comprises the focus of the displays, as his contributions earned the city its cultural significance. The interactive exhibition offers a walk through aeons of time, from the Carolinian beginnings to medieval coronations and the Napolean Aix-la-Chapelle. Additionally, the centre features a space for temporary exhibitions.
Address: Katschhof 1, 52062 Aachen, Germany, + 49 241 4324902