We start this trip with the magnificent Aachen Cathedral (Aachen Dom) right on the border between Germany and Belgium. It is the oldest in Northern Europe (786) and was built by Emperor Charlemagne.
The Aachen Cathedral (Aachen Dom), by its architectural richness and its historical symbolic importance is in my opinion one of the most important European buildings.
Aachen Cathedral (Aachen Dom) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. It is Germany’s first World Heritage Site.
Exterior of Aix la Chapelle Cathedral (Aachen Dom)
Its atypical architecture highlights the different stages of its construction: both Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The pictures below are taken from the Aachen City Hall.
Interior of Aachen Cathedral (Aachen Dom)
It is inside the Cathedral that the unique association of the two Romanesque and Gothic architectures is most evident.
- The Romanesque part, the most imposing, known as the Palatine Chapel, dates from the time of Charlemagne (year 800).
- The Gothic part, reminiscent of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, was completed in 1414.
The Gothic Choir
The Aachen Cathedral Choir is strangely reminiscent of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
The Palatine Chapel
This part of the Cathedral is Charlemagne’s part. Upstairs, one can see the throne that was built for the Emperor, which faces the representation of Jesus Christ on the ceiling of the dome.
Interior of Aachen Cathedral
- Wide-angle lens highly recommended to capture the grandiosity of the place and its architecture. My photos are taken at a focal length of 12mm (full format).
- The tripod is prohibited. So have a camera that goes up in ISO, because the inside of the Cathedral is dark.
- Access is restricted. Aachen Cathedral is open every day from 7am to 7pm (closed at 6pm from January to March), but it is not possible to visit it during church services (so not before 11am on weekdays and 12:30pm on Sundays). Access to the first floor of the church is free. The choir area, as well as the floor with Charlemagne’s throne, can only be visited during a guided tour (paying 4 euros).
Exterior of Aachen Cathedral
The best vantage point to take in the Cathedral as a whole is from Aachen’s City Hall.
- Or simply from the square behind the City Hall and in front of the Cathedral.
- Either by taking a little height from the floor of the City Hall which can be visited (entrance fee of 6 euros, 10am-6pm and 5:30pm in winter).
To get there (from Paris)
- Train: 2h53 direct with the Thalys
- Car: 4h drive