During my weekend jaunt to western Germany, I made a day trip to Aachen, once the capital of Charlemagne’s short-lived empire and the final resting place of ”Charles the Great” himself.


Aachen is the city in North Rhine-Westphalia of Germany known also as Aix-la-Chapelle in French. Its name derives from the Ach(e), meaning “river” or “stream” in Old High German.

This city lives and breathes Europe as it is practically Europe in miniature. On the border with Belgium and the Netherlands, it has encapsulated the spirit, values and ideals of Europe since the days of Charlemagne.

So who was Charlemagne and how he made this city famous?

Charlemagne, 8th century, also known as Karl and Charles the Great, was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe. In 771, Charlemagne became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany. He embarked on a mission to unite all Germanic peoples into one kingdom, and convert his subjects to Christianity. It was the first time these lands had been united politically since the Roman Empire.

Portrait of Charlemagne, King of Franks and Lombards and Emperor of Holy Roman Empire with model of Palatine Chapel. By Scheuren, 19 century. 

In 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans. In this role, he encouraged the Carolingian Renaissance, a cultural and intellectual revival in Europe. When he died in 814, Charlemagne’s empire encompassed much of Western Europe, and he had also ensured the survival of Christianity in the West. Today, Charlemagne is referred to by some as the father of Europe.

The ruler seated in the Palace of Aachen a group of buildings with residential, political and religious purposes to be the centre of power of the Carolingian Empire.

Charlemagne with the crown jewels in front of the Palace

Today much of the palace is destroyed, but the Palatine Chapel has been preserved and is considered as a masterpiece of Carolingian architecture and a characteristic example of architecture from the Carolingian Renaissance. 

Important part of this palace and todays cityscape of Aachen is Aachen Cathedral, traditionally known in English as the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle. It is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe and was constructed by Odo of Metz.


Aachen Cathedral houses a collection of medieval art objects which are exceptional in their historical, artistic and religious meaning.

1Charlemagne’s throne, is the most important chapelle sight. It is an austere chair that places has been made from stone taken from the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. All German kings in the medieval times were crowned on this throne.

The Barbarossa chandelier was made on the order of Emperor Frederick I, nicknamed Barbarossa, and his wife Beatrice  in 12 century. It has a diameter of 4.20 meters and is just amazing inner sight of the chapel.


Finally, Charlemagne was buried there after his death in 814. After that, for 595 years, the Aachen chapel was the church of coronation for thirty German kings and twelve queens.

Today,  in the glory of his name, the Charlemagne Prize is given for services to European unity.

Aachen is also renowned for its relaxed atmosphere, best experienced on a stroll through the historical streets. There are charming places that to the grand old buildings dotted along the Charlemagne Route.



  1. As an American, it’s hard to wrap my head around how old some of the historic sites in Europe are. Truly fascinating!


  2. I’m not sure why but this web site is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.


  3. I precisely had to say thanks yet again. I do not know the things I might have implemented in the absence of the type of aspects documented by you about such a field. It was a real hard setting for me personally, however , seeing this professional technique you treated that forced me to cry for delight. I’m just thankful for the work and as well , hope that you comprehend what a great job your are putting in instructing many people through the use of a web site. More than likely you have never met all of us.


  4. Thank you, I have just been looking for info about this subject for
    a long time and yours is the greatest I have found out till now.
    However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you certain about the


  5. Howdy! This article couldn’t be written any better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He always kept talking about this. I am going to send this post to him.
    Fairly certain he’s going to have a great read. Thank you for

    Here is my web-site – 918kaya


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.