Aachen City Hall

Aachen, Germany

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.

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Address

Markt 40, Aachen, Germany
See all sites in Aachen

Details

Founded: 1330
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Germany
Historical period: Habsburg Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rohit Ravi (2 years ago)
Rathaus or City Hall is an architectural marvel in Aachen. The place is a perfect spot to spend your evenings. The spot is also the marketplace of Aachen. Charlemagne statue with fountain stands tall in front of the Rathaus. You have a Rewe City in front of the City Hall and lots of restaurants and utility stores in the region.
Doram Jacoby (3 years ago)
A very impressive building.
Panagiotis V.S. (3 years ago)
Beautiful area and very nice for walking
Shadow Step (3 years ago)
Very old, Very beautiful. Must see if you are a tourist.
Andy Cambridge (3 years ago)
Really nice building definitely worth a visit! Provides you with small glimpses of the cities history and some of the roles and how it relates to the city hall. Not just a building of civic function but a true centre to the town both historically and culturally.
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.