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Aachen Old Town

Worth visiting



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Type of sights

Heritage building(s)


Name and address

Aachen Old Town

DE-52062 Aachen


Geodetic coordinates

50.776302 6.083865


176 m


Aachen Rathaus
Aachen Rathaus
Aachen, Elisenbrunnen
Aachen, Elisenbrunnen
Aachen, Domkeller
Aachen, Domkeller
Aachen, Couven-Museum im Haus Monheim
Aachen, Couven-Museum im Haus Monheim

Aachen (German pronunciation: [ˈʔaːxən]) is a historically important city, spa and university centre in North Rhine-Westphalia, situated at the "three lands corner" where the borders of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet. Known as Aix-la-Chapelle in French and Aken in Dutch, the city has played a prominent role in early Medieval Europe, when it became the favoured residence of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor who created the empire in the late 8th and early 9th century and built the city's impressive cathedral, where he is now buried along with a succession of later German rulers, many of whom were also crowned in the city.

Apart from its medieval significance and a wealth of preserved artifacts, Aachen is also known for its springs, which have been attracting visitors since the Ancient Roman times and continue to do so today, with a number of historic baths and hotels sprinkled around the city. Contributing to the city's wealth and prominence is also the technical university, which made Aachen a hub for modern technologies and provides a sizeable student population (over 40 000 of the total 250 000 inhabitants). With all this, Aachen is now a multi-cultural, popular tourist destination.

Historically this spa-town was a prominent city, the place where the German Kings were crowned, and a famously favoured residence of Charlemagne who still lies buried in the impressive cathedral he himself had built. The city is packed with historic sights that remind of those days, including medieval buildings, city gates and beautiful fountains.


Aachen was the preferred residence of Charlemagne, "Roman" Emperor from 800 to 814 AD and king of an empire covering much of modern day Italy, France, Germany and the Benelux. Additional information can be found at the Route Charlemagne Aachen website.

As Aachen is a legally recognised spa, it could technically call itself Bad Aachen, but refuses to do so, as it then wouldn't be listed first in almost all alphabetical lists.

The city lies at the borders of Germany with Belgium and the Netherlands, forming the economic region called the Euregio. There are several Euregios in Europe, but regionally speaking just of "the Euregio" is understood to mean the one centered on Aachen.


  • Aachen Cathedral , Domhof 1,  +49 241 477090. Opening times of the Cathedral: Jan-Mar: Daily 7AM-6PM, Apr-Dec: Daily 7AM-7PM. Note that during mass access is restricted to attending in the services. Touristic visits are recommended for Mon-Fri after 11AM; Sat-Sun after 12:30 PM. Aachen Cathedral is one of the most famous examples of occidental architecture. Around 800, the core building of the Palace Chapel was built. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Gothic choir (the "Aachen glasshouse"), the north and south chapel were added. Through the centuries, many other constructions and decorations were completed. Today, it is a unique and beautiful two-storey cathedral of classical pillars, bronze railings, golden masterpieces, glassworks, etc.
    The cathedral is the memorial and funeral place of Charlemagne (+814). During 936-1531, 30 kings and 12 queens were anointed, crowned and enthroned here. In the Middle Ages, it was one of Christendom's most important venues for pilgrimage, together with Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela. Heiligtumsfahrt (the Aachen pilgrimage) takes place every year since 1349 (the next one will be in June 2014). In 1978 it was the first German building to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  • Cathedral Treasury (Domschatzkammer), Johannes-Paul-II.-Straße. Opening times of the treasure grove (Schatzkammer): Jan-Mar: M 10AM-1PM; Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. Apr-Dec: M 10AM-1PM; Tu-Su 10AM-6PM; closed on 24 and 25 Dec, 31 Dec, 01 Jan, and some days around carnival. Ecclesiastical treasures from Antique, Carolingian, Ottonian and Staufian epochs,including Cross of Lothair and the Bust of Charlemagne. 
  • Rathaus, Markt,  +49 241 4320. The city hall Wikipedia Icon, dated from 1330, lies between two central places, the Markt (market place) and the Katschhof (between city hall and cathedral). The coronation hall is on the first floor of the building. Inside you can find five frescoes by the Aachen artist Alfred Rethel which show legendary scenes from the life of Charlemagne, as well as Charlemagne's signature. It also contains the hall of the emperors, along with replicas of the imperial crown jewels.
  • The Grashaus, a late medieval house at the Fisch Markt, is one of the oldest non-religious buildings in downtown Aachen. It hosted the city archive. The Grashaus was the former city hall before the present building took over this function.
  • The Elisenbrunnen is one of the most famous sights of Aachen. It is a neo-classical hall covering one of the city's famous fountains. It is just a minute away from the cathedral.
  • Also of note are two remaining city gates, the Ponttor Wikipedia Icon, one half-mile northwest of the cathedral, and the Kleinmarschiertor, close to the central railway station. There are also a few parts of both medieval city walls left, most of them integrated into more recent buildings, but some others still visible. There are even five towers left, some of which are used for housing.
  • St. Michael's Church Wikipedia Iconwas built as a church of the Aachen Jesuit Collegium in 1628. It is attributed to the Rhine mannerism and a sample of a local Renaissance-architecture. The rich façade remained unfinished until 1891 when the historistic architect Peter Friedrich Peters added to it. The church is a Greek Orthodox church today, but the building is used also for concerts because of its good acoustics.
  • The Jewish synagogue in Aachen which was destroyed at the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) on 9 November 1938, was reinaugurated on 18 May 1995. 
  • There are numerous other notable churches and monasteries, a few remarkable 17th- and 18th-century buildings in the particular Baroque style typical of the region, a Jewish synagogue, a collection of statues and monuments, park areas, cemeteries, among others.
  • Among the museums in the town are the Suermondt-Ludwig Museum Wikipedia Icon, which has a fine sculpture collection and the Aachen Museum of the International Press, which is dedicated to newspapers from the 16th century to the present.
  • The area's industrial history is reflected in dozens of 19th- and early 20th-century manufacturing sites in the city.


Aachen offers many different cuisines, from traditional German food to exotic cuisines. The centre offers restaurants of all categories, prices being relatively cheap in comparison with other German cities. Students prefer the snack bars and light meals offered at Pontstraße.

  • Goldener Schwan, Markt 37 (Opposite Rathaus),  +49 241 31649. 15th century building where you can now get local and German meals. For example Aachener Puttes a type of Blutwurst similar to English black pudding. 


Inside the range of 4 km:

  •   Aquis Grana Cityhotel, Büchel 32, Aachen, PC V - VIII

    "... we have an underground car park in our house. The garage is opened by us at the push of a button from the reception, so we have a good overview of who is going in and out there. However, it is definitely also recommended, even in addition bring a lock."

  •   B&B Hotel Aachen City, Großkölnstraße 57-63, Aachen, PC IV - VII

    "... we can offer free parking spaces in our underground garage. There are corresponding steel brackets that are concreted in to which bicycles can be connected."

  •   Hotel bensons, Bahnhofstraße 3, Aachen, PC VI - IX

    "... Our hotel has a lockable garage, which is directly adjacent to our house or connected to our courtyard. There are also bicycle stands, air pumps, tools, etc."

  •   Hotel am Marschiertor, Wallstraße 1-7, Aachen, PC V

    "... We have a lockable bicycle cellar, to which guests only have access through the hotel staff."

  •   Hotel Granus, Passstraße 2a, Aachen, PC IV - VI

    "... you can park your bikes in our garage."

  •   Hotel Krone Aachen, Jülicher Straße 91a, Aachen, PC IV - VI

    "... The parking space for bicycles is a marked area in our car garage, where only hotel guests park."

  •   Mercure Hotel Aachen Europaplatz, Joseph-von-Görres-Straße 21, Aachen, PC V - IX

    "... we have a bicycle room."

  •   Art Hotel Superior, Am Branderhof 101, Aachen, PC VI - VIII

    "... you are welcome to park your bicycles in the hotel's own underground car park."

  •   Jugendherberge Aachen, Maria-Theresia-Allee 260, Aachen, PC III

    "... You can store your bicycles free of charge in our in-house bicycle cellar."


Inside the range of 4 km:

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