Aachen – once known by its French name Aix-la-Chapelle – is Germany’s westernmost city and, historically, one of the most important in Europe, due to its location near the Dutch and Belgian borders. In a wooded basin in the foothills of the Eifel and Ardennes, Aachen has long been known for its healing hot springs, the warmest in Europe, often visited by royalty. In the Middle Ages, Aachen was a residence of the Frankish kings and a stronghold much loved by Charlemagne, and from the time of Otto I in 936 AD to Ferdinand I in 1531, it was the place of coronation for 32 German kings . Besides the rich cultural heritage, the city is also famous for its equestrian sport.
SwatiTravel is supported by readers and may earn a commission from purchases made through links in this article.
1 Aachen Cathedral
Also known as the Imperial Cathedral (Kaiserdom), Aachen Cathedral – one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites – consists of a central octagon built in 796 AD as the palace church of Charlemagne (the Paladin) and the Gothic choir completed in 1414 It is home to many unique historical artifacts, including a candlestick presented by Frederick I Barbarossa, Charlemagne’s marble throne, and a gold reliquary containing his remains. Also note that the windows in the cloister are excellent examples of post-war German design. Tours are available.
Address: Domhof 1, 52062 Aachen
Flights for everyone SwatiTravel– cheap flights
2 The cathedral treasury
The Cathedral Treasury – one of the richest and most important in Europe – contains many precious relics. Highlights include numerous sacred religious objects and treasures from the Middle Ages, the most famous of which are the cross of Lothair and the bust of Charlemagne – only seen on pilgrimages once every seven years – and the Persephone sarcophagus. A variety of English language tours are available.
Address: Johannes-Paul-II-Strasse, 52062 Aachen
3 The Marketplace
The Marktplatz (Marktplatz) in Aachen contains a number of notable tourist attractions. One of the highlights is the spectacular old City Hall, built in 1350 on the foundations of the former Carolingian Imperial stronghold and features beautiful frescoes of the Coronation Hall depicting the life of Charlemagne. Another highlight is the Katschhof, which marks the location of the Carolingian palace courtyard. The Marketplace is also home to the International Newspaper Museum with its collection of over 200,000 newspapers from around the world, including many first editions.
Address: Hühnermarkt 17, 52062 Aachen
4 Ludwig Forum for International Art
Many beautiful modern works of art from around the world are displayed at the Ludwig Forum for International Art (Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst). Built in the Bauhaus style in 1928 to resemble a train station, this former umbrella-measuring factory houses a fascinating collection of American pop art and photo realism, along with exhibits on the evolution of European art since the 1960s. Also included are collections from Cuban and contemporary artists, plus many local artists. Tours are available.
Address: Jülicherstrasse 97-109, 52070 Aachen
5 The old town hall
Aachen’s lovely old town hall, the Grashaus, has older parts dating back to 1267, once part of Charlemagne’s former palace. It officially became the administrative center of the city in the 14th century and further Baroque additions were made in the 17th and 18th centuries. Highlights include statues of the German kings crowned in Aachen on the north facade, as well as the beautiful Coronation Hall with its famous 19th-century Rethel frescoes. There are also replicas of the Imperial Crown Jewels and a fine collection of Gothic and Baroque furniture on display. Tours are available.
Address: Markt 52062 Aachen
6 Couven Museum
Of Couven Museum, in an old burgher’s home known as Haus Monheim, was founded in 1958 and has many fine home interiors from the period 1740 to 1840. The collection focuses on decor and artifacts that would be found in the homes of the upper middle class from this period, including Rococo., early Classicism and Napoleonic styles. Highlights include displays of 18th-century silverware, kitchenware, and the first chocolate bar-making equipment. It is also interesting Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum with its collections of medieval sculpture and early Dutch and German art, including works by Rembrandt van Dyck.
Address: Hühnermarkt 17, 52062 Aachen
Official site: https://couven-museum.de/en/
7 Spa’s a bath
In 1827, to commemorate the long tradition of spas and baths in Aachen, the city founded the Elisenbrunnen, an elaborate neoclassical structure with a drinking fountain and colonnade in Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz. A series of plaques marks the names of some of the many famous people who traveled here to taste the healing waters. The building is currently used for community events and exhibitions, and is well worth a visit. A variety of spa-related resorts and bathing facilities continue the city’s tradition of welcoming guests to participate in therapeutic treatments, including the luxurious Carolus Thermen resort.
8 Art from North Rhine-Westphalia
Art lovers will want to visit the palatial former imperial abbey, the Kornelimünster, a beautiful baroque building with a permanent collection of contemporary art, art from North Rhine-Westphalia. The gallery includes the work of many local artists, as well as works from other parts of Germany. Tours are available. On the way to the Kornelimünster from the city center, the Aachen Zoo delights young and old with about 1700 animals of more than 250 different species.
Address: Abteigarten 6, 52076 Aachen
Where to stay in Aachen for sightseeing
We recommend these centrally located hotels in Aachen, near top attractions such as the cathedral and Marktplatz:
- Pullman Aachen Quellenhof: 5-star luxury hotel, classic style, park view, neoclassical building, beautiful spa with steam room and saunas, heated indoor pool.
- INNSIDE by Melia Aachen: mid-range prices, contemporary style, black and white decor, rooftop restaurant with city views, comfortable beds and linens.
- Novotel Aachen City: affordable prices, central location, parking garage, gym, children’s play area.
- Haus Am Huhnerdieb Hotel: budget bed-and-breakfast, great location, comfortable beds.