Aachen's Gothic Rathaus looms over the Markt opposite to the Aachen Cathedral. In the first half of the 14th century, Aachen’s citizenry built the city hall as a sign of their civic freedom. Yet, they had to promise to establish a space in the new town hall that could host the traditional coronation feast that was part of the coronation ceremony of the Holy Roman Empire.
Construction began in 1330 on top of the foundation walls of the Aula Regia, part of the derelict Palace of Aachen, built during the Carolingian dynasty. Dating from the time of Charlemagne, the Granus Tower and masonry from that era were incorporated into the south side of the building. The structure was completed in 1349, and while the town hall served as the administrative center of the city, part of the city’s munitions and weaponry was housed in the Granus Tower, which also served as a prison for some time.
During the great Fire of Aachen in 1656, portions of the roof and towers burned. The destroyed elements were then replaced in a baroque style. From 1727 until 1732 the Chief Architect of Aachen, Johann Joseph Couven, led a fundamental baroque remodeling of the structure, especially of the front façade and entry steps. The gothic figures and muntin adorning the windows were removed, and even the interior was remodeled in the baroque style. Today, the sitting room and the “White Hall” both still convey this change in style.
Since the end of the Imperial City era and the Napoleonic occupation of the area, the structural condition of the City Hall was greatly neglected, so that the building was seen to be falling apart by 1840. After that the building was rebuilt little by little in a neo-Gothic style that tried to capture its original gothic elements. The side of the City Hall that faced the Market was adorned with statues of 50 kings, as well as symbols of art, science, and Christianity.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.