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For other uses, see Aachen (disambiguation).
Panoramic view of Aachen, including Kaiser Karls Gymnasium (foreground), townhall (back center) and cathedral (back right)
Panoramic view of Aachen, including Kaiser Karls Gymnasium (foreground), townhall (back center) and cathedral (back right)
Coat of arms of Aachen
Coat of arms
Aachen  is located in Germany
Coordinates: 50°47′N 6°5′E / 50.783°N 6.083°E / 50.783; 6.083Coordinates: 50°47′N 6°5′E / 50.783°N 6.083°E / 50.783; 6.083
Country Germany
State North Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. region Köln
District Aachen
 • Lord Mayor Marcel Philipp (CDU)
 • Governing parties CDU / SPD
 • Total 160.83 km2 (62.10 sq mi)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total 241,683
 • Density 1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 52062–52080
Dialling codes 0241 / 02405 / 02407 / 02408
Vehicle registration AC
Website www.aachen.de
Aachen's Neues Kurhaus

Aachen (German pronunciation: [ˈʔaːxən]), also known as Bad Aachen (Ripuarian: Óche, Limburgish: Aoke, French: Aix-la-Chapelle, Dutch: Aken, Latin: Aquisgranum) is a German spa and border town located between the Eifel, South Limburg (Netherlands) and High Fens (Belgium) regions[2] in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Sometimes in English (especially in older usage), the city is referred to as Aix-la-Chapelle (French pronunciation: ​[ɛkslaʃapɛl]). Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and later the place of coronation of the German kings, which is where it gained the reference as the "watering-place of kings."[3] Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost city of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, 61 km (38 mi) west-southwest of Cologne.[4][5] It is located within a former coal-mining region, and this fact was important in its economic history.[5] RWTH Aachen University, one of Germany's Universities of Excellence, is located in the city.[nb 1][6] Aachen's predominant economic focus is on science, engineering, information technology and related sectors. In 2009, Aachen was ranked 8th among cities in Germany for innovation.[7]


The name Aachen is a modern descendant, like southern German Ach(e), Aach ‘river, stream’, of Old High German aha ‘water; stream’ which directly translates (and etymologically corresponds to) Latin Aquae, referring to the springs. The location has been inhabited by humans since the Neolithic era, approximately 5,000 years ago, attracted to its warm mineral springs. Latin Aquae figures in Aachen’s Roman name Aquae granni, which meant ‘Grannus’ waters’, referring to the Celtic god of healing who was worshiped at the springs.[3][8] This word became Åxhe in Walloon and Aix in French, and subsequently Aix-la-Chapelle after Charlemagne had a cathedral built there in the late 8th century and then made the city his empire’s capital.

Aachen’s name in French and the loan translation in German evolved in parallel. The city is known by a variety of different names in other languages:

Language Name Pronunciation in IPA
Latin Aquisgrana,[9] Aquae granni[3] Aquis Granum[10]
French Aix-la-Chapelle[11] [ˌɛkslaʃaˈpɛl]
Spanish Aquisgrán[11] [akisˈɣran]
Polish Akwizgran [akˈfizgran]
Luxembourgich Oochen [ˈɔːxən]
Dutch/Low German Aken[11] [ˈaːkən]
Czech Cáchy [t͡saxɪ]

Aachen dialect

Aachen is at the western end of the Benrath line that divides High German to the south from the rest of the West Germanic speech area to the north.[12][unreliable source?] Aachen’s local dialect is called Öcher Platt and belongs to the Ripuarian language.


Construction of Aix-la-Chapelle, by Jean Fouquet
Medieval architecture in Aachen

Early history

Flint quarries on the Lousberg, Schneeberg, and Königshügel, first used during Neolithic times (3,000–2,500 b.c.), attest to the long occupation of the site of Aachen, as do recent finds under the modern city's Elisengarten pointing to a former settlement from the same period. Bronze Age (ca. 1600 b.c.) settlement is evidenced by the remains of barrows (burial mounds) found, for example, on the Klausberg. During the Iron Age, the area was settled by Celtic peoples[13] who were perhaps drawn by the marshy Aachen basin's hot sulphur springs where they worshiped Grannus, god of light and healing.

Later, the 25-hectare Roman spa resort town of Aquae Granni was, according to legend, founded by Grenus, under Hadrian, in ca. a.d. 124. Instead, the fictitious founder refers to the Celtic god, and it seems it was the Roman 6th Legion at the start of the 1st century that first channelled the hot springs into a spa at Büchel,[nb 2] adding at the end of the same century the Münstertherme spa,[15] two water pipelines, and a likely sanctuary dedicated to Grannus. A kind of forum, surrounded by colonnades, connected the two spa complexes. There was also an extensive residential area, part of it inhabited by a flourishing Jewish community.[16] The Romans built bathhouses near Burtscheid. A temple precinct called Vernenum was built near the modern Kornelimünster/Walheim. Today, remains have been found of three bathhouses,[17] including two fountains in the Elisenbrunnen and the Burtscheid bathhouse.[citation needed]

Roman civil administration fell apart in Aachen between the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th centuries. Rome withdrew its troops from the area but the town remained populated. By 470, the town came to be ruled by the Ripuarian Franks[18] and subordinated to their capital, Cologne.

Middle Ages

After Roman times, Pepin the Short had a castle residence built in the town, due to the proximity of the hot springs and also for strategic reasons as it is located between the Rhineland and northern France.[19] Einhard mentions that in 765–6 Pepin spent both Christmas and Easter at Aquis villa ("Et celebravit natalem Domini in Aquis villa et pascha similiter."),[20] which must have been sufficiently equipped to support the royal household for several months. In the year of his coronation as King of Franks, 768, Charlemagne came to spend Christmas at Aachen for the first time.[nb 3] He went on to remain there in a mansion which he may have extended, although there is no source attesting to any significant building activity at Aachen in his time, apart from the building of the Palatine Chapel in Aachen (since 1929, cathedral) and the palatial presentation halls. Charlemagne spent most winters in Aachen between 792 and his death in 814. Aachen became the focus of his court and the political centre of his empire. After his death, the king was buried in the church which he had built;[22] his original tomb has been lost, while his alleged remains are preserved in the shrine where he was reburied after being declared a saint; his saintliness, however, was never very widely acknowledged outside. In 936, Otto I was crowned king of East Francia in the collegiate church built by Charlemagne. While Otto II ruled, the nobles revolted and the West Franks, under Lothair,[23] raided Aachen in the ensuing confusion.[24][nb 4] Aachen was attacked again, this time by Odo of Champagne who attacked the imperial palace while Conrad was absent. Odo relinquished it quickly and was killed soon thereafter.[25] The palace and town of Aachen received fortifying walls by order of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa between 1172 and 1176.[17] Over the next 500 years, most kings of Germany destined to reign over the Holy Roman Empire were crowned in Aachen. The original audience hall built by Charlemagne was torn down and replaced by the current city hall in 1330.[nb 5][17] The last king to be crowned here was Ferdinand I in 1531.[4][26] During the Middle Ages, Aachen remained a city of regional importance, due to its proximity to Flanders, achieving a modest position in the trade in woollen cloths, favoured by imperial privilege. The city remained a Free imperial city, subject to the Emperor only, but was politically far too weak to influence the policies of any of its neighbours. The only dominion it had was over Burtscheid, a neighbouring territory ruled by a Benedictine abbess. It was forced to accept that all of its traffic must pass through the "Aachener Reich". Even in the late 18th century the Abbess of Burtscheid was prevented from building a road linking her territory to the neighbouring estates of the duke of Jülich; the city of Aachen even deployed its handful of soldiers to chase away the road-diggers.

As an imperial city, Aachen held certain political advantages that allowed it to remain independent of the troubles of Europe for many years. It remained a direct vassal of the Holy Roman Empire throughout most of the Middle Ages. It also was the site of many important church councils. These included the Council of 837,[27] and the Council of 1166, a council convened by the antipope Paschal III.[5]

Manuscript production

Aachen has proven an important site for the production of historical manuscripts. Under Charlemagne's purview, both the Ada Gospels and the Coronation Gospels may have been produced in Aachen.[28] In addition, quantities of the other texts in the court library were also produced locally. During the reign of Louis the Pious (814-840), substantial quantities of ancient texts were produced at Aachen, including legal manuscripts such as the (leges scriptorium group), patristic texts including the five manuscripts of the Bamberg Pliny Group.[28] Finally, under Lothair I (840-855), texts of outstanding quality were still being produced. This however marked the end of the period of manuscript production at Aachen.[28]

16th through 18th centuries

In 1598, following the invasion of Spanish troops from the Netherlands, Rudolf deposed all Protestant office holders in Aachen and even went as far as expelling them from the city.[29] From the early 16th century, Aachen started losing its power and influence. It started with the crowning of emperors occurring not in Aachen but in Frankfurt, followed by the religious wars, and the great fire of 1656.[30] After the destruction of most of the city in 1656, the majority of the rebuilding utilized the Baroque style.[17] It then culminated in 1794, when the French, led by General Charles Dumouriez,[18] occupied Aachen.[26]

Aachen became attractive as a spa by the middle of the 17th century, not so much because of the effects of the hot springs on the health of its visitors but because Aachen was then – and remained well into the 19th century – a place of high-level prostitution in Europe. Traces of this hidden agenda of the city's history is found in the 18th-century guidebooks to Aachen as well as to the other spas; the main indication for visiting patients, ironically, was syphilis; only by the end of the 19th century had rheumatism become the most important object of cures at Aachen and Burtscheid. Aachen was chosen as the site of several important congresses and peace treaties: the first congress of Aachen (often referred to as the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in English) on May 2, 1668,[31] leading to the First Treaty of Aachen in the same year which ended the War of Devolution.[32] The second congress ended with the second treaty in 1748, ending the War of the Austrian Succession.[4][33] In 1789, there was a constitutional crisis within the Aachen government,[34] and in 1794 Aachen lost its status as a Free Imperial City.[17]

19th century

On 9 February 1801, the Peace of Lunéville removed the ownership of Aachen and the entire "left bank" of the Rhine from Germany and granted it to France.[18] In 1815, control of the town was passed to Prussia, by an act that was passed by the Congress of Vienna.[26][17] The third congress took place in 1818 to decide the fate of occupied Napoleonic France.

By the middle of the 19th century, industrialisation swept away most of the city's medieval rules of production and commerce, although the entirely corrupt remains of the city's medieval constitution were kept in place (compare the famous remarks of Georg Forster in his Ansichten vom Niederrhein) until 1801, when Aachen became the "chef-lieu du département de la Roer" in Napoleon's First French Empire. In 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, the Kingdom of Prussia took over and the city became one of its most socially and politically backward centres until the end of the 19th century.[4] Administered within the Rhine Province, by 1880 the population was 80,000. Starting in 1838, the railway from Cologne to Belgium passed through Aachen.[35] The city suffered extreme overcrowding and deplorable sanitary conditions up to 1875 when the medieval fortifications were finally abandoned as a limit to building operations and new, less miserable quarters were built in the eastern part of the city, where drainage of waste liquids was easiest. In December 1880, the Aachen tramway network was opened, and in 1895 it was electrified.[36] In the 19th century and up to the 1930s, the city was important for the production of railway locomotives and carriages, iron, pins, needles, buttons, tobacco, woollen goods, and silk goods.

20th century

After World War I, Aachen was occupied by the Allies until 1930.[26] Aachen was one of the locations involved in the ill-fated Rhenish Republic. On 21 October 1923 an armed band took over city hall. Similar actions took place in München-Gladbach, Duisburg, and Krefeld. This Republic lasted only about a year.[37] Aachen was heavily damaged during World War II. The city and its fortified surroundings were laid siege to from 12 September–21 October 1944 by the US 1st Infantry Division[38] with the 3rd Armored Division assisting from the south.[39] Around 13 October the US 2nd Armored Division played their part, coming from the north and getting as close as Würselen,[40] while the 30th Infantry Division played a crucial role in completing the encirclement of Aachen on 16 October 1944.[41] With reinforcements from the US 28th Infantry Division[42] the Battle of Aachen then continued involving direct assaults through the heavily defended city, which finally forced the German garrison to surrender on 21 October 1944.[38] Aachen was the first German city to be captured by the Allies, and its residents welcomed the soldiers as liberators.[43] The city was destroyed partially – and in some parts completely – during the fighting,[4] mostly by American artillery fire and demolitions carried out by the Waffen-SS defenders. Damaged buildings included the medieval churches of St. Foillan, St. Paul and St. Nicholas, and the Rathaus (city hall), although Aachen Cathedral was largely unscathed. Only 4,000 inhabitants remained in the city; the rest had followed evacuation orders. Its first Allied-appointed mayor, Franz Oppenhoff, was assassinated by an SS commando unit.

History of Aachen Jews

During the Roman period, Aachen was the site of a flourishing Jewish community. Later, during the Carolingian empire, a Jewish community was found near the royal palace.[16] In 802, a Jew named Isaac accompanied the ambassador of Charlemagne to Harun al-Rashid. During the 13th Century, many Jews converted to Christianity, as shown in the records of the Church of St. Marry. In 1486, the Jews of Aachen offered gifts to Maximilian the first during his coronation ceremony. In 1629, the Aachen Jewish community was expelled from the city. In 1667, six Jews were allowed to return. Most of the Aachen Jews settled in the nearby town of Burtscheid. On 16 May 1815, the Jewish community of the city offered an homage in its synagogue to the Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm the third. A Jewish cemetery was acquired in 1851. 1,345 Jews lived in the city in 1933. The synagogue was destroyed during Kristallnacht in 1938. In 1939, after emigration and arrests, 782 Jews remained in the city. After World War II, only 62 Jews lived there. In 2003, 1,434 Jews were living in Aachen, occasionally suffering of antisemitic incidents at its community facilities.[44][45] In Jewish texts, the city of Aachen was called Aish, or Ash (אש).

21st century

The city of Aachen has developed into a technology hub as a by-product of hosting one of the leading universities of technology in Germany with the RWTH Aachen (Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule), known especially for mechanical engineering, automotive and manufacturing technology as well as for its research and academic hospital Klinikum Aachen, one of the largest medical facilities in Europe.


The three country point: the tripoint of the border between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands

Aachen lies on the tripoint of Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium in the middle of the Meuse–Rhine Euroregion, which contains an open valley basin and includes tributaries of the Wurm and the Rur rivers. The city is located in the basin of the Meuse, directly on the northern edge of the Eifel region of the Rhenish Massif, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of the High Fens.

The highest point of Aachen measures 410 m Normalnull (NN) and lies in the far southeast of the city. The lowest point is 125 m NN and is located in the north, on the border with the Netherlands. The length of the city border is 87.7 km (54.5 mi), 23.8 km (14.8 mi) of which border Belgium and 21.8 km (13.5 mi) border the Netherlands. From north to south, the city is 21.6 km (13.4 mi) at its widest, and from east to west, it is 17.2 km (10.7 mi).[citation needed]


As the westernmost city in Germany[3] (and close to the Low Countries), Aachen and the surrounding area belongs to a temperate climate zone, with humid weather, mild winters, and warm summers. Because of its location north of the Eifel and the High Fens and its subsequent prevailing westerly weather patterns, rainfall in Aachen (on average 805 mm/year) is comparatively higher than, for example, Bonn (with 669 mm/year). Another factor in the local weather forces of Aachen is the occurrence of Foehn winds on the southerly air currents, which results from the city's geographic location on the northern edge of the Eifel.[46]

Because the city is surrounded by hills, it suffers from inversion-related smog. Some areas of the city have become Urban heat islands as a result of poor heat exchange, both because of the area's natural geography, as well as from human activity. The city's numerous cold air corridors, which are slated to remain as free as possible from new construction, therefore plays an important role in the urban climate of Aachen.[47]

The January average is 3.0 °C (37 °F), while the July average is 18.5 °C (65 °F). Precipitation is almost evenly spread throughout the year.

Climate data for Aachen, Germany for 1981–2010 (Source: DWD)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.2
Average high °C (°F) 5.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.0
Average low °C (°F) 0.7
Record low °C (°F) −16.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 68.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 63.5 83.0 119.3 163.4 195.6 196.6 208.5 195.7 149.3 120.4 71.0 50.2 1,616.5
Source: Data derived from Deutscher Wetterdienst[48]


Layered sandstone and claystone formation from the Devonian period below St. Adalbert Church in Aachen

The geology of Aachen is very structurally heterogeneous. The oldest occurring rocks in the area surrounding the city originate from the Devonian period and include carboniferous sandstone, Graywacke, claystone and limestone. These formations are part of the Rhenish Massif, north of the High Fens. In the Pennsylvanian subperiod of the Carboniferous geological period, these rock layers were narrowed and folded as a result of the Variscan orogeny. After this event, and over the course of the following 200 million years, this area has been continuously flattened.Anderson, Ernest Masson (2012). Healy, David, ed. Faulting, Fracturing and Igneous Intrusion in the Earth's Crust 367 (367). Geological Society of London. ISBN 1-86239-347-8. ISSN 0305-8719. 

During the Cretaceous period, the ocean penetrated the continent from the direction of the North Sea up to the mountainous area near Aachen, bringing with it clay, sand, and chalk deposits. While the clay (which was the basis for a major pottery industry in nearby Raeren) is mostly found in the lower areas of Aachen, the hills of the Aachen Forest and the Lousberg were formed from upper Cretaceous sand and chalk deposits. More recent sedimentation are mainly located in the north and east of Aachen and were formed through tertiary and quaternary river and wind activities.[citation needed]

Along the major thrust fault of the Variscan orogeny, there are over 30 thermal springs in Aachen and Burtscheid. Additionally, the subsurface of Aachen is traversed by numerous active faults that belong to the Rurgraben fault system, which has, in the past, been responsible for numerous earthquakes, including the 1756 Düren Earthquake[49] and the 1992 Roermond earthquake,[50] which was the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the Netherlands.


Age distribution of Aachen's population

Aachen has 236,420 inhabitants (as of 9 May 2011), of whom 116,340 are women, and 120,090 are men.[51] The age distribution is as follows: under 3 years: 5,500; 3 to 5 years: 5,340; 6 to 14 years: 17,000; 15 to 17 years: 6,060; 18 to 24 years: 31,060; 25 to 29 years: 23,270; 30 to 39 years: 29,680; 40 to 49 years: 34,030; 50 to 64 years: 40,880; 65 to 74 years: 23,030; 75 years and older: 20,570. (as of 9 May 2011). The average age as of December 2010 was 40.8 years.

The unemployment rate in the city is, as of April 2012, 9.7 percent.[52] At the end of 2009, the foreign-born residents of Aachen made up 13.6 percent of the total population.[53] A significant portion of foreign residents are students at RWTH Aachen University.[54]

Year Population
1994 246,570[55]
2007 247,740[21]
2011 236,420
2012 240,086
Largest groups of foreign residents
Nationality Population (2013)
 Turkey 6,478
 Poland 1,758
 China 1,651
 Netherlands 1,586
 Greece 1,512
 Romania 1,025


The city is divided into seven administrative districts, or boroughs, each with its own district council, district leader, and district authority. The councils are elected locally by those who live within the district, and these districts are further subdivided into smaller sections for statistical purposes, which each sub-district named by a two-digit number.

The districts of Aachen, including their constituent statistical districts, are:

Regardless of official statistical designations, there are 50 neighborhoods and communities within Aachen, here arranged by district:

Neighboring communities

The following cities and communities border Aachen, clockwise from the northwest: Herzogenrath, Würselen, Eschweiler, Stolberg and Roetgen (which are all in the district of Aachen); Raeren, Kelmis and Plombières (Lüttich Province in Belgium) as well as Vaals, Gulpen-Wittem, Simpelveld, Heerlen and Kerkrade (all in Limburg Province in the Netherlands).

Main sights

Theater Aachen

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral was erected on the orders of Charlemagne in AD 796[5] and was, on completion, in 798,[56] the largest cathedral north of the Alps. It was modeled after the Basilica of San Vitale, in Ravenna, Italy,[26] and was built by Odo of Metz.[5] Charlemagne also desired for the chapel to compete with the Lateran Palace, both in quality and authority.[57] It was originally built in the Carolingian style, including marble covered walls, and mosaic inlay on the dome.[58] On his death, Charlemagne's remains were interred in the cathedral and can be seen there to this day. The cathedral was extended several times in later ages, turning it into a curious and unique mixture of building styles. The throne and gallery portion date from the Ottonian, with portions of the original opus sectile floor still visible.[58] The 13th century saw gables being added to the roof, and after the fire of 1656, the dome was rebuilt. Finally, a choir was added around the start of the 15th century[22] After, Frederick Barbarossa canonized Charlemagne, in 1165, the chapel became a destination for pilgrims.[22] For 600 years, from 936 to 1531, Aachen Cathedral was the church of coronation for 30 German kings and 12 queens. The church built by Charlemagne is still the main attraction of the city.[59] In addition to holding the remains of its founder, it became the burial place of his successor Otto III. In the upper chamber of the gallery, Charlemagne's marble throne is housed.[60] Aachen Cathedral has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most of the marble and columns used in the construction of the cathedral were brought from Rome and Ravenna, including the sarcophagus that Charlemagne was eventually laid to rest.[57] A bronze bear from Gaul was placed inside, along with an equestrian statue from Ravenna, believed to be Theodric. These were in contrast to a wolf and a statue of Marcus Aurelius in the Capitoline.[57] Bronze pieces such as the doors and railings were cast in a local foundry, some of which have survived to the present. Finally, there is uncertainty surrounding the bronze pine cone in the chapel, and where it was created. Wherever it was made, it was also a parallel to a piece in Rome, this in Old St. Peter's Basilica.[57]


Aachen has housed, throughout its history, a collection of liturgical objects. The origination of this treasury is in dispute as some say Charlemagne himself endowed his chapel with the original collection, while the rest were collected over time Others say all of the objects were collected over time, from such places as Jerusalem and Constantinople.[57] The location of this treasury of objects has moved over time, The locations was unknown until the 15th century when it was located in St. Matthew's Chapel until 1873, when it was moved to Charles Chapel. From there it was moved, in 1881, to the Hungarian Chapel, and in 1931 to its present location next to the Poor Souls' Chapel.[57] Of the original Carolingian objects, only six remain, and of those, only three are left in Aachen: the Aachen Gospels, a diptych of Christ, and an early Byzantine silk. The Coronation Gospels and a reliquary burse of St. Stephen were moved to Vienna, in 1798, and the Talisman of Charlemagne was given as a gift in 1804 to Josephine Bonaparte and subsequently to Reims Cathedral.[57] 210 documented pieces have been added to the treasury since its inception, typically to receive in return legitimization of linkage to the heritage of Charlemagne. The Lothar Cross, the Gospels of Otto III and multiple additional Byzantine silks were donated by Otto III. the Pala d'Oro and a covering for the Aachen Gospels made of gold donated by Henry II.[57] Frederick Barbarossa donated the candelabrum that adorns the dome and the shrine that Charlemagne was place in 1215. Charles IV donated a pair of reliquary. Louis XI gave, in 1475, the crown of Margaret of York, and, in 1481, another arm reliquary of Charlemagne. Maximilian I and Charles V both gave numerous works of art by Hans von Reutlingen.[57] Continuing the tradition, objects continued to be donated until the present, each indicative of the period of its gifting, with the last documented gift being a chalice from 1960 made by Ewald Mataré.[57]

Other sights

The city hall, dated from 1330,[21] 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,[61] along with replicas of the imperial crown jewels.[60]

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. Just a few steps in south-eastern direction lies the 19th-century theatre.

Also of note are two remaining city gates, the Ponttor (Pont gate), one half-mile northwest of the cathedral, and the Marschiertor (marching gate), 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, Aachen was 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.[62][63] One of the contributors for the reconstructions of the synagogue was Jürgen Linden, the Lord Mayor of Aachen from 1989 to 2009.

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, 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.[61] The area's industrial history is reflected in dozens of 19th- and early 20th-century manufacturing sites in the city.


Ford Research Center, Aachen

There have been a number of spin-offs from the university's IT technology department.[citation needed]

Aachen is the administrative centre for the coal-mining industries in neighbouring places to the northeast.[17]

Products manufactured in Aachen include electrical goods, textiles, foodstuffs (chocolate and candy), glass, machinery, rubber products, furniture, metal products.[55] Also in and around[clarification needed] Aachen is the production of chemicals, plastics, cosmetics, and needles and pins.[26] Though once a major player in Aachen's economy, today glassware and textile production make up only 10% of total manufacturing jobs in the city.[11]


Aachen is also famous for its carnival (Karneval, Fasching), in which families dress in colorful costumes

In 1372, Aachen became the first coin-minting city in the world to regularly place an Anno Domini date on a general circulation coin, a groschen.

The Scotch-Club in Aachen was the first discothèque; it has been open since 19 October 1959. Klaus Quirini as DJ Heinrich was the first DJ ever.

The local specialty of Aachen is an originally hard type of sweet bread, baked in large flat loaves, called Aachener Printen. Unlike Lebkuchen, a German form of gingerbread sweetened with honey, Printen use a syrup made from sugar. Today, a soft version is sold under the same name which follows an entirely different recipe.


The main building of RWTH Aachen University
Typical Aachen street with early 20th-century Gründerzeit houses
Another example of Aachen early 20th-century Gründerzeit houses

RWTH Aachen University, established as Polytechnicum in 1870, is one of Germany's Universities of Excellence with strong emphasis on technological research, especially for electrical and mechanical engineering, computer sciences, physics, and chemistry. The university clinics attached to the RWTH, the Klinikum Aachen, is the biggest single-building hospital in Europe.[64] Over time, a host of software and computer industries have developed around the university. It also maintains a botanical garden (the Botanischer Garten Aachen).

FH Aachen, Aachen University of Applied Sciences (AcUAS) was founded in 1971. The AcUAS offers a classic engineering education in professions like Mechatronics, Construction Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or Electrical Engineering. German and international students are educated in more than 20 international or foreign-oriented programs and can acquire German as well as international degrees (Bachelor/Master) or Doppelabschlüsse (double degrees). Foreign students account for more than 21% of the student body.

The Katholische Hochschule Nordrhein-Westfalen - Abteilung Aachen (Catholic University of Applied Sciences Northrhine-Westphalia - Aachen department)[65] offers its some 750 students a variety of degree programmes: social work, childhood education, nursing, and co-operative management. It also has the only programme of study in Germany especially designed for mothers.[66]

The Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Cologne University of Music) is one of the world’s foremost performing arts schools and one of the largest music institutions for higher education in Europe[67] with one of its three campuses in Aachen.[68] The Aachen campus substantially contributes to the Opera/Musical Theatre master’s program by collaborating with the Theater Aachen and the recently established musical theatre chair through the Rheinische Opernakademie.

The German Army's Technical School (Technische Schule Landsysteme und Fachschule des Heeres für Technik) is in Aachen.[69]


New Tivoli, home ground of Alemannia Aachen

The annual CHIO (short for the French term Concours Hippique International Officiel) is the biggest equestrian meeting of the world and among horsemen is considered to be as prestigious for equitation as the tournament of Wimbledon for tennis. Aachen hosted the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games and 2011 CHIO Aachen.

The local football team Alemannia Aachen had a short run-out in Germany's first division, after its promotion in 2006. However, the team could not sustain its status and is now back in the fourth division. The stadium "Tivoli", opened in 1928, served as the venue for the team's home games and was well known for its incomparable atmosphere throughout the whole of the second division.[70] Before the old stadium's demolition in 2011, it was used by amateurs, whilst the Bundesliga Club held its games in the new stadium "Neuer Tivoli" – meaning New Tivoli - a couple of metres down the road. The building work for the stadium which has a capacity of 32.960, began in May 2008 and was completed by the beginning of 2009.

The city's biggest tennis club, "TC Grün Weiss", annually hosts the ATP Tournament.[citation needed]

The Ladies In Black women's volleyball team (part of the "PTSV Aachen" sports club since 2013) has played in the first German volleyball league (DVL) since 2008.


Bi-articulated bus of the city's transit authority ASEAG, at the university hospital bus stop


Aachen's railway station, the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station), was constructed in 1841 at the Cologne-Aachen railway line and replaced in 1905, moving it significantly closer to the city centre. It serves main lines to Cologne, Mönchengladbach and Liège as well as branch lines to Heerlen, Alsdorf, Stolberg and Eschweiler. ICE high speed trains from Brussels via Cologne to Frankfurt am Main and Thalys trains from Paris to Cologne also stop at Aachen Central Station. Four RE lines and two RB lines connect Aachen with the Ruhrgebiet, Mönchengladbach, Spa (Belgium), Düsseldorf and the Siegerland. The Euregiobahn, a regional railway system, reaches several minor cities in the Aachen region.

There are four smaller stations in Aachen: Aachen West, Aachen Schanz, Aachen-Rothe Erde and Eilendorf. Slower trains stop at these. Aachen-West has developed priority with the expansion of RWTH Aachen University.


Aachen is connected to the Autobahn A4 (West-East), A44 (North-South) and A544 (a smaller motorway from the A4 to the Europaplatz near the city centre). There are plans to eliminate traffic jams as the Aachen road interchange.


Maastricht Aachen Airport (IATA: MSTICAO: EHBK) is the main airport of Aachen and Maastricht. It is located around 15 NM (28 km; 17 mi) northwest of Aachen. There is a shuttle-service between Aachen and the airport.

Charlemagne Prize

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, wearing the Charlemagne Prize awarded to her in 2008
Main article: Charlemagne Prize

Since 1950, a committee of Aachen citizens annually awards the Charlemagne Prize (German: Karlspreis) to personalities of outstanding service to the unification of Europe. It is traditionally awarded on Ascension Day at the City Hall. Most recently in 2014, the Charlemagne Award was awarded to Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council and former Prime Minister of Belgium.[71]

The International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen was awarded in the year 2000 to the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, for his special personal contribution to co-operation with the states of Europe, for the preservation of peace, freedom, democracy and human rights in Europe, and for his support of the enlargement of the European Union. In 2004, Pope John Paul II's efforts to unite Europe were honoured with an "Extraordinary Charlemagne Medal", which was awarded for the only time ever.

Notable residents

House of the family of the "founding father" of modern architecture Mies van der Rohe

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Aachen is twinned with:[73][74]

See also


  1. ^ "RWTH" is the abbreviation of "Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule", which translates into "Rhine-Westphalian Technical University". The institution is commonly referred to as "RWTH Aachen" or simply "RWTH", with the abbreviation remaining untranslated in other languages to avoid the use of the "Hochschule" term, which is sometimes mistakenly translated as highschool. Sometimes, RWTH Aachen is also referred to as "TH Aachen" or "Aachen University".
    Note: The term "FH Aachen" does not refer to the RWTH but to the Fachhochschule Aachen, a university of applied sciences, which is also located in Aachen.
  2. ^ This audio file is Andreas Schaub explaining the archaeological record in court in Archäologie am Hof.[4][14]
  3. ^ This is in dispute, as some history books state that Charlemagne was in fact born in Aachen in 742.[21]
  4. ^ This was during the period of 970 to 980.[23]
  5. ^ Sources differ on the age of the city hall, as the dates used for the construction were 1334 through 1349.[17]


  1. ^ "Amtliche Bevölkerungszahlen". Landesbetrieb Information und Technik NRW (in German). 4 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Young & Stetler 1987, p. 272
  3. ^ a b c d Munro 1995, p. 1
  4. ^ a b c d e f Bridgwater & Aldrich 1968, p. 11
  5. ^ a b c d e Bayer 2000, p. 1
  6. ^ RWTH Aachen University 2013
  7. ^ Anon 2009
  8. ^ Mielke 2013
  9. ^ Egger 1977, p. 15
  10. ^ Canby 1984, p. 1
  11. ^ a b c d Kerner 2013
  12. ^ Anon 2013
  13. ^ Schumacher 2009
  14. ^ Schaub 2013
  15. ^ Anon 2013a
  16. ^ a b Freimann 1906, p. 301
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h McClendon 1996, p. 1
  18. ^ a b c Held 1997, p. 2
  19. ^ McClendon 1996a, p. 1
  20. ^ Eginhard 2012, p. 10
  21. ^ a b c Merkl 2007, p. 2
  22. ^ a b c McClendon 1996a, p. 4
  23. ^ a b Dupuy & Dupuy 1986, p. 258
  24. ^ Kitchen 1996, p. 35
  25. ^ Kitchen 1996, p. 40
  26. ^ a b c d e f Ranson 1998, p. 45
  27. ^ De Jong 1996, p. 279
  28. ^ a b c McKitterick 1996, p. 1
  29. ^ Holborn 1982, p. 295
  30. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online 2006
  31. ^ Dupuy & Dupuy 1986, p. 563
  32. ^ Holborn 1982a, p. 70
  33. ^ Holborn 1982a, p. 217
  34. ^ Wilson 2004, p. 301
  35. ^ Holborn 1982b, p. 11
  36. ^ Van der Gragt 1968, p. 137
  37. ^ Holborn 1982b, p. 614
  38. ^ a b Stanton 2006, p. 76
  39. ^ Stanton 2006, p. 51
  40. ^ Stanton 2006, p. 50
  41. ^ Stanton 2006, p. 109
  42. ^ Stanton 2006, p. 105
  43. ^ Baker 2004, p. 37
  44. ^ American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise 2013a
  45. ^ Anon 2014
  46. ^ Anon 2013b
  47. ^ Aachen Department of Environmental 2013
  48. ^ Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development 2013
  49. ^ University of Cologne, Seismological Station Bensberg 2013
  50. ^ Geological Survey of North Rhine-Westphalia 2013
  51. ^ Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder 2011
  52. ^ Aktualisierung 2012
  53. ^ City of Aachen 2012
  54. ^ RWTH Aachen University 2013a
  55. ^ a b Cohen 1998, p. 1
  56. ^ McClendon 1996a, p. 2
  57. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gaehde 1996, p. 4
  58. ^ a b McClendon 1996a, p. 3
  59. ^ City of Aachen 2013
  60. ^ a b Young & Stetler 1987, p. 273
  61. ^ a b Hoiberg 2010, pp. 1–2
  62. ^ American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise 2013
  63. ^ Knufinke 2013
  64. ^ Aachen Institute for Advanced Study in Computational Engineering Science 2009
  65. ^ Catholic University of Applied Sciences 2014
  66. ^ Catholic University of Applied Sciences 2014a
  67. ^ Academy of Music and Dance Cologne 2014
  68. ^ Academy of Music and Dance Cologne 2014a
  69. ^ Van der Meer, Richter & Opitz 1998, p. 718
  70. ^ Gdawietz & Leroi 2008, p. 28
  71. ^ Spiegel Online 2013
  72. ^ Schäfer & Schäfer 2010
  73. ^ a b Anon 2013c
  74. ^ a b c d e f Calderdale Council 2012
  75. ^ Pecinovský 2009


Further reading

Published in the 19th century
Published in the 20th century
  • Baedeker, Karl (1911) [1868]. The Rhine, including the Black Forest & the Vosges. Baedeker's Guide Books (17th ed.). Leipzig, Germany: Karl Baedeker, Publishers. pp. 12–15. LCCN 11015867. 
  • Bischoff, Bernhard (1981). "Die Hofbibliothek Karls des Grossen [The Court Library of Charlemagne] and Die Hofbibliothek unter Ludwig dem Frommen [The Court Library under Louis the Pious]". Mittelalterliche Studien [Medieval Studies] (in German) III. Stuttgart, Germany: A. Hiersemann. pp. 149–186. 
  • Braunfels, Wolfgang; Schnitzler, H., eds. (1966). Karl der Grosse: Lebenswerk und Nachleben [Charlemagne: Lifetime and Legacy] (in German). Düsseldorf, Germany: L. Schwann. LCCN 66055599. 
  • Cüppers, von Heinz (1982). Aquae Granni: Beiträge zur Archäologie von Aachen: Rheinische Ausgrabungen [Aquae Granni: Contributions to Archaeology of Aachen: Excavations of the Rhineland] (in German). Cologne, Germany: Rheinland-verlag. ISBN 3-7927-0313-0. LCCN 82178009. 
  • Faymonville, D. (1916). Die Kunstdenkmäler der Stadt Aachen [The Monuments of the City of Aachen] (in German). Düsseldorf, Germany: L. Schwann. 
  • Grimme, Ernst Günther (1972). Der Aachener Domschatz [The Aachen Cathedral Treasury]. Aachener Kunstblätter [Written Works on Aachen] (in German). Düsseldorf, Germany: L. Schwann. LCCN 72353488. 
  • Kaemmerer, Walter (1955). Geschichtliches Aachen: Von Werden und Wesen einer Reichsstadt [History of Aachen: From Will and Essence of an Imperial City] (in German). Aachen, Germany: M. Brimberg. LCCN 56004784. 
  • Koehler, Wilhelm Reinhold Walter (1958). Die karolingischen Miniaturen [The Carolingian Miniatures] (in German). II-IV. Berlin, Germany: B. Cassirer. LCCN 57050855. 
  • McKitterick, Rosamond (1990). "Carolingian Uncial: A Context for the Lothar Psalter" (PDF). The British Library Journal (British Library) 16 (1): 1–15. 

External links