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Charlemagne's Aachen - California Globetrotter

Charlemagne’s Aachen


Charlemagne's Aachen - California GlobetrotterNot far from the German/Belgian border lies the most western town in Germany and a site of historical importance. During the Middle Ages, Charlemagne had a cathedral built here, modelled after the church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. Aachen would become the seat of his political empire and the court. The town would later gain importance as for the next 500 years, all future kings of Germany would be crowned here before preceding to reign over the Holy Roman Empire.

As a last minute decision, we decided to visit Aachen, mostly drawn in by the beauty that is Charlemagne’s Pfalzkapelle (cathedral). After it’s completion in 798, the cathedral was the largest north of the Alps. It is by far one of the most unique cathedrals I have yet to step foot inside of in Germany. It is much smaller than it appears, yet still possess a dominant force within the city.

The entire inside of the cathedral is decorated in marble brought in from Rome and Ravenna, Italy, as well as very intricate patters throughout the entire place. IMG_0980

Centered in the middle of the cathedral are the pews and directly above them hangs the massive copper candelabra, almost in the shape of a crown, given as a gift to Charlemagne from Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa.

IMG_0982Of importance within the cathedral is the Shrine of Charlemagne. After his death and upon becoming a saint, he was laid to rest and enshrined in a golden shrine.

Also, found inside the cathedral is the throne that saw the coronation of 30 German kings and 12 German queens. However, we somehow missed this and according to my travel guide, it seems that it might have been on the second floor, which we weren’t allowed to go up to. So, needless to say, we were bummed about realized we had missed upon returning home.





After checking out the cathedral, we meandered around the town to check out some other sites. The next most impressive building just beyond the cathedral is the Rathaus (city hall). The Rathaus was built in the 14th century and expanded under Charlemagne’s orders. We had wanted to go in, but it wasn’t open to the public that day.

Charlemagne's Aachen - California Globetrotter

As we weren’t very impressed with the city beyond the cathedral and Rathaus, we casually strolled along, checking out the many different water fountains, stopping to enjoy a coffee at Starbucks before we decided to check out one of the cool city gates we passed while driving into the town.

The Ponttor is one of two city gates that remains from the 14th century which was manned by militia during the Free Imperial City of Aachen era. There are gates at either end, where enemy forces could be trapped and have things dropped on them.

We were slightly disappointed in Aachen, having thought it would be a much smaller city than it was. This was our first taste of a “trip fail” as everything about this city wasn’t at all what we had in mind. Usually the larger the city, the dirtier it becomes and such was the case with Aachen. We found it full of graffiti everywhere, homeless people sleeping on park benches and trash everywhere. It didn’t feel like any German city I had ever been to before. We made the most out of our afternoon in Aachen, hoping to find something that would change our opinion about the town, but to no avail. While the cathedral was absolutely stunning, we were left unsatisfied.

To be honest, we really couldn’t wait to leave, for which I was incredibly sad about. It was about the first time I didn’t go all snappy picture crazy. Needless to say, that is why it took me forever to even bother writing this post.

Adventures from the Netherlands:

A Day Strolling the Canals of Amsterdam

Utrecht: The Less Touristy Version of Amsterdam

Zaanse Schans: Windmills, Clogs & Cheese!

Alkmaar: A Typical Dutch Cheese Market (for cheese lovers!)

plus check out…

The Adorable Half-timbered Town of Monschau, Germany

The Beauty of Strasbourg, France

as well as….

A Drive to Leuven, Belgium (Just for Waffles!)

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Author: California Globetrotter

At 14 I started traveling the world with my parents and was hooked! By 21 I was studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. By 26 I sold all of my belongings and bought a one way ticket to Germany to teach English. Little did I know, I'd meet the love of my life and end up traveling to the most romantic and idyllic towns in Europe and becoming a long-term expat in Bavaria! My name is Lorelei and I'm just your typical CaliGirl, Sunset Chaser, Fairytale Dreamer, Dress Lover, Traveloholic, Beer Drinker!

16 thoughts on “Charlemagne’s Aachen

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  3. Pingback: The Adorable Half-timbered Town of Monschau, Germany | California Globetrotter

  4. Pingback: Alkmaar: A Typical Dutch Cheese Market (for cheese lovers!) | California Globetrotter

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  7. Pingback: A Day Strolling the Canals of Amsterdam | California Globetrotter

  8. Sorry you didn’t love Aachen, but at least the Cathedral was gorgeous! Thanks for the heads up on Aachen, it’s always good to know which cities are really worth visiting.

  9. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Aachen as much as you thought – isn’t that the worst when you travel? The pictures you took are stunning though, I can’t stop ogling over the gorgeous architecture! #MondayEscapes

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