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

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kristin Doyle (5 months ago)
This is amazing! The detailed mosaics, the throne of Charlemagne! The beauty and peaceful relevance is all quite beautiful. Highly recommend a stop if you are even close by. Note: they ask a euro for permission to take photos and will give you a tag for your camera or bag.
Lindsey Olson (6 months ago)
Gorgeous cathedral with so much fascinating history from our tour guide! My favorite parts were the stained glass windows, the ceiling mosaics, the architectural history as viewed from the exterior, and the insight into restoration work that unintentionally changed the aesthetic of the cathedral (like the mosaics and the striped trim on the arches). The history around the throne was also fascinating.
Akhil Garg (6 months ago)
Aachen cathedral is located in city center of Aachen and one of the famous place. I went there during Xmas so there was Winter market as well. Church is very nice and beautiful and historic . It was a nice place to visit and roam around.
Chander Vir (6 months ago)
A nice place to visit.. Small town maintaining traditional values.. The cathedral has magnificent architecture and is quite big in size. The main reason of visit for us was Christmas market and it was worth seeing.. Not many tourists made the place having a feel of t the traditional Christmas market in style.
Lucian Popescu (7 months ago)
Amazing place. Worth every second going... Ceilings are breathtaking (originals?), stained glasses look reconstructed / modernist. You are not allowed to enter nave and altar areas except if part of organized groups...
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