"City of Kings and Thermal Baths" Top 5 Page for this destination Aachen by BillNJ

Aachen Travel Guide: 502 reviews and 1,209 photos

Charlemagne Chose Aachen For His Home

Charlemagne (aka Karl der Grosse in German, Karel de Grote in Dutch, Carolus Magnus in Latin, and Charles the Great in English) became the sole King of the Franks in 760 A.D. upon the death of his brother, Carloman. During Charlemagne's reign, he led the Franks in numerous military campaigns throughout Western Europe. On Christmas Day, 800 A.D., Charlemagne was crowned "Emperor of the Romans" in Rome by Pope Leo III, the first such crowning in the west after an intermission of 324 years.

Unlike previous Emperors, Charlemagne did not establish his residence in Rome. Instead, Charlemagne chose the city of Aachen for his home. According to Einhard who was a scholar in Charlemagne's court and his earliest biographer, a big reason why Charlemagne chose Aachen was that he liked to swim in the city's thermal baths. Reportedly, Charlemagne frequented the baths often, and he was usually accompanied by family members, officials or guests.

Compact, Pedestrian-Friendly City Center

Aachen has a compact city center that can be explored easily on foot. Furthermore, much of the center city is made up of pedestrian zones with restricted automobile traffic. Tourists are advised to bring their walking shoes and enjoy the sights!

VT Meeting Over German Tapas and Kölsch

On my first night in Aachen, I met with VTer Stef (TinyTuck) and her two friends, Alex and Alex. To eat, we enjoyed "German tapas" at the Brauerei Goldener Schwan on the Marktplatz (market square) overlooking the historic Rathaus. With dinner, we drank Kölsch -- and we had more later at a couple of other great pubs in the city center. It was an informal and enjoyable VT meeting!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Compact City Center; Magnificent Cathedral; Carolus Thermen Bad Aachen
  • Cons:It rains a lot
  • In a nutshell:Be Like Charlemagne and Swim in Bad Aachen!
  • Last visit to Aachen: May 2008
  • Intro Updated Jun 23, 2008
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Reviews (34)

Comments (26)

  • Pijlmans's Profile Photo
    Mar 23, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    Interesting tips, especially the one with the legend about the devil and the church door...Will visit Aachen next week and your tips were helpful!

    • BillNJ's Profile Photo
      Mar 23, 2013 at 5:16 AM

      Wow, it's nice to know that something I wrote years ago was helpful to you today. Enjoy your upcoming trip to Aachen! After your trip, I would enjoy hearing about your observations and experiences. Cheers!

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
    Mar 18, 2011 at 4:43 AM

    Hi Bill Just wanted to say that I loved your Aachen page and found it really useful in planning my recent visit there! I particularly appreciated your tip (and witty commentary) on the wonderful Carolus Therme spa! Regards Cathy

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    excellent tips thanks for sharing with us ;-)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Dec 11, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    Lots of interesting history! I enjoyed the story of the Devil's thumb - but you don't tell us if you felt it ;-) Good restaurant tips too, and great that you managed to have a small VT meeting while there too.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    We are planning a trip to GErmany next year and debating to see this. Thanks for the insight and good tips with pics.

  • karenincalifornia's Profile Photo
    Jan 11, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Great page - I might stop by for a day

  • Maurizioago's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2009 at 9:18 AM

    Good page. I'd like to visit Aachen one day. Ciao!

  • MacedonianUK's Profile Photo
    Dec 18, 2009 at 12:36 AM

    Now I live in aachen, back in the city after 6 yrs.... Nice tips tho! & great photos...

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2009 at 1:36 AM

    Interesting page on Aachen. It was a pity that you struck some places closed, that was disappointing for you. Must say, the gingerbread sounds yummy!

  • yooperprof's Profile Photo
    Aug 29, 2009 at 6:54 AM

    I talk about Charlemagne and "Aix-la-chapelle" in my Western Civ class, so I should really visit some time!

BillNJ

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