The Standouts of Aachen
Posted on January 31, 2013 by sguese
If it was good enough for the Romans, you can bet it would be good enough for modern day travelers. Aachen was not only put on the map due to Charlemagne, but also due to the Romans. The Romans would come here to nurse their war wounds and stiff joints in the town’s mineral springs. Not much as changed as tourists flock to the city to soak up those ancient thermal waters. Those who can’t fathom a spa treatment in the middle of an itinerary can appreciate Aachen for its historic significance instead. Charlemagne made the city the geographical and political capital of the Frankish empire in 794. Much of that historical significance has turned out standout structures and sites worth exploring on any German itinerary.
Aachen’s Dom is easily the showpiece in town. Around 800 A.D Charlemagne began work on his Imperial Cathedral. That space would go on to become Aachen’s cathedral, the site where over 30 German kings were crowned from 936 to 1531. Pilgrims have been flocking here since the 12th century, mostly to see the burial place of Charlemagne. Aachen’s Dom was the first monument in Germany to be placed on the Unesco list.
While nearly every German town or village has a Rathaus, Aachen is a little bit more special. The Gothic structure covers in 50 life-size statues of German rules, 30 of which were crowned right in Aachen. Built in the 14th century on top of Charlemagne’s palace foundations, the Rathaus prides itself on its 19th century frescoes by Alfred Rethel and its Granusturm, the surviving eastern tower.
The Cathedral Treasury
The Cathedral Treasury in Aachen holds all the gold, silver and jewels you will need to see in a lifetime. Some of the Treasury’s standout pieces include Lotharkreuz, the 10th century processional cross and the marble sarcophagus that held Charlemagne’s bones until his canonization.
Old and New Art
Aachen is not all about past, as best seen at the Ludwig Forum Für Internationale Kunst. The former umbrella factory is now home to a wealth of contemporary art including works by Warhol, Immendorf, Holzer, Pench and Haring. The museum also stages progressive changing exhibits.
Then again, you have probably come to Aachen to explore its past, including in the art department. Pay a visit to Suermondt Ludwig Museum. The museum boasts an extensive collection of medieval German sculpture. It is considered one of the finest collections of such sculpture in all of Germany. The Couven Museum also warrants a gander for its insight into decorative tradition of the late 18th and 19th centuries.
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