Aachen Cathedral

Aachen, Germany

The Cathedral of Aachen is one of the most famous examples of occidental architecture. It is the coronation church of more than 30 German kings, burial site of Charlemagne, major pilgrimage church and cathedral church of the Aachen diocese since 1930. In 1978 it was the first German building to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

When the Emperor Charlemagne built his representative “Pfalz”, the Palace, before 800, he started to make his dream of Aachen as a “new Rome” come true. The centrepiece of the Palace complex is its church, which was designed as an octagon according to the example of Byzantine palace churches. The height of its interior of more than 31 meters is a unique architectural achievement. Until the High Romanic period nobody managed to exceed this bold construction.

The Palace Chapel became the burial place of Charlemagne. From 936 onwards the Chapel has been used as the coronation place for the German kings for the following 600 years.

In 1002 the Emperor Otto III was also buried in Charlemagne’s Chapel. Since the Gothic period every seven years large numbers of pilgrims have come to Aachen for the occasion of the “Heiligtumsfahrt” (Holy Pilgrimage), in order to pay reverence to the four sacred relics.

From 1355 to 1414 the Gothic Choir Hall was built and added to Charlemagne’s construction. It was also called the “Glass House” of Aachen because of its huge glass windows. The Glass House forms the luminous shell for Charlemagne’s Shrine. Charlemagne had been canonised and his mortal remains have been contained in the Shrine.

During the 15th century most of the chapels that surround the central building were built. The Western Tower was another addition that was built during the late 19th century. For the first time under Napoleon’s rule Aachen becomes an Episcopal town. In modern times it has its own bishop since 1930.

Because it is the location of Charlemagne’s grave, the coronation place of the German kings and the destination of the Holy Pilgrimage, the Aachener “Marienkirche” (St Mary’s Church) has been appreciated and revered for many centuries. This clearly shows when you look at the large number of exhibits. The Cathedral Treasury is a unique witness of the venerable history of Charlemagne’s Palace Chapel. As ecclesiastical treasure the Cathedral Treasure has no equal apart from the Italian relics.

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Details

Founded: 793-813 AD
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Part of The Frankish Empire (Germany)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Leonard Conlan (16 months ago)
This is the strangest Cathedral I have seen,but for me it was stunning.I have NEVER seen a Cathedral with this mix of architecture,so it was a great surprise for me.The best Cathedral so far for me in Germany.
Horst Knorz (16 months ago)
Great, looks like having been constructed in many steps. We were too late to get inside. But the city of Aachen is crowded with old buildings. One nicer than the other. We just stopped for filling the tank and found that great city.
Thuan Le (16 months ago)
Germany's first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Small but very nice Cathedral. Convenient place to explore the area, too. Free entrance, taking photo: 1 euro.
Patrick G (17 months ago)
Definitely worth a visit. Free entry, 1€ to take photos. Gorgeous mosaics in the ceilings. A lovely space in general.
Renán Zelada (17 months ago)
Very beautiful church which is free to visit! Totally worth it although now with the coronavirus the chapel where Charlemagne is buried was closed. Supposedly you have to pay €1 to be allowed to take pictures but there was no one enforcing this.
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