A World Cultural Heritage Site in the center of the old city
Located in the heart of the old city, Aachen Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe and main attractions of Aachen. Its architecture and features still highlight the significance and imposing nature of the building. Emperor Charlemagne began the construction of the Palatine Chapel around 796, along with the rest of the palace structures. The construction was completed at the end of the 8th century and Charlemagne was buried there in 814. Its magnificent interior is in full view as soon as you enter. Here, history really does come alive.
Aachen Cathedral - Pala d'oro
The main altar of Aachen Cathedral is decorated by a golden antependium made in the early 11th century. In the center of the antependium Chris the Redeemer is enthroned, accompanied by the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael. Grouped around this central image are ten relief panels with scenes from the Passion of Christ.
The chandelier was donated by Emperor Frederick I and his wife Beatrix and is attached to an ironwork chain of 27 meters. It’s original shape was meant to dovetail harmonically and symbolically with the overall structure of the church. Imagery and inscription refer to the Heavenly Jerusalem.
The Aachen Cathedral treasury
The treasury is considered one of the most important of its kind north of the Alps. Its collection includes numerous sacred gold and silver items such as chalices, reliquaries and altarpieces.
Admire objects from late antiquity displayed in a space of around 600m², as well as items from the Carolingian, Ottonian, Staufian and Gothic periods. They testify to the long tradition and history of the church as the burial place of Emperor Charlemagne, and as a church where kings were crowned and which is a place of pilgrimage.
Please find visitor information here.
As is so often the case when it comes to special buildings, the construction of Aachen Cathedral is shrouded in legend. According to the legend, the party-loving Aacheners ran out of money to build the imposing church, today’s Aachen Cathedral, which had been commissioned by Charlemagne. They spent a long time wondering what they could do. At all costs, they wanted to have the church ready by the time the emperor returned from his campaigns.
The pact with the devil
Then an elegantly clothed gentleman appeared and promised them enough money to allow them to complete the church. In return, he asked for the soul of the first person who entered the building. The Aacheners took a good look at the man, who was intimidating in his dark clothes, with a hoof print and small horns on his forehead. “If that’s not the devil himself”, they thought. But the offer was simply too tempting, and they decided to enter into the pact. After just a few weeks, Charlemagne’s church was ready, and awaited the arrival of the emperor.
The devil’s thumbs
The devil hid behind the heavy bronze door, ready to catch the poor soul. Once again, the Aacheners spent a long time wondering what they could do. They came up with the cunning idea of going into the forest and capturing a wolf, whom they drove in front of them into the church. When the doors slowly opened, the devil quickly jumped up and tried to snatch the soul. However, when he realized that this was not a human soul, and that he had been tricked, he was livid with anger. He ran out of the church and slammed the doors shut behind him with all his might. He did this so violently that he jammed his own thumbs, and a large tear appeared in the door.