Aachen has enjoyed centuries of importance, from the 1st century AD when the Romans built baths over the hot sulphur springs; through the Imperial period, when it was selected by Charlemagne as the capital of his enormous empire and became a political, cultural and intellectual centre; and up into the 19th century when royalty still came to visit this 'Spa of Kings' and to hold congresses.

Today Germany’s westernmost city, lying on the borders of Holland and Belgium, Aachen is an attractive, compact city with a centre of medieval cobbled streets winding around the magnificent cathedral, linking historic squares and dotted with imaginative fountains, both old and new. The city is bursting with almost 2000 years of history, but the atmosphere is lively and modern, with people from around the world drawn here for the sightseeing, the thermal baths and to study at the large technical university.


Around 800 AD, Charlemagne constructed a monumental complex of buildings in the centre of Aachen including a palace and chapel, and the remnants of these remain at the heart of the old town today. Charlemagne’s octagonal chapel, containing his tomb, lies at the core of the impressive cathedral, the oldest in northern Europe. His marble throne also stands in the cathedral, which was expanded during the Middle Ages to include elements such as a glass chapel. The attached treasury is considered one of the most important in northern Europe. When UNESCO created its list of World Heritage Sites in 1978, Aachen cathedral was one of the first twelve additions.

The town hall on the main market square also retains echoes of Charlemagne’s Imperial reign. Built on the foundation of his palace, its enormous Coronation Hall contains replicas of the Imperial Crown Jewels and was the venue for the banquets of 30 Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire after their coronations in the cathedral.

For a taste of the famous spring water, visit the colonnaded Elisenbrunnen, dating from 1822, which contains two fountains where the water can be sipped, if the pungent sulphurous smell isn’t too off-putting! There are various spa clinics in Aachen offering bathing cures and the luxurious Carolus Thermen Bad with swimming pools of thermal mineral water is open for short visits.


Aachen is a mixture of history and modernity and this is represented in its shops, with modern chain stores such as H&M to be found, but also boutiques in the old town and traditional bakeries where the delicious local speciality 'Printen', a type of hard gingerbread sweetened with sugar rather than the usual honey, can be bought in a vast range of varieties.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Aachen offers a wide range of options for eating out, from traditional oak-beamed restaurants, pubs and cafés, gourmet establishments, restaurants serving all kinds of foreign food, to fast food joints.

The best area for restaurants and bars is the Pontviertel, which is a favourite with Aachen’s students in the evenings.


Aachen's position at the very edge of Germany makes it a perfect location for excursions over the border. Approximately 20 minutes’ drive away is the Dreiländerpunkt (3-country-point) in Vaals, which offers a view down into Germany, Holland and Belgium. The Eifel region south of Aachen, an area of wooded hills and idyllic villages and towns, makes a pleasant day-trip, and large cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dortmund are also within 45-90 minutes’ drive.

Tourist Information

Information Office ElisenbrunnenFriedrich-Wilhelm-Platz52062 AachenTel: +49 241 180 2960 or -61Fax: +49 241 180 2930Email: info@aachen-tourist.de


The nearest airport is Maastricht-Aachen Airport in Holland, 41km from Aachen, offering flights to Berlin, Bucharest and various destinations in southern Spain and Turkey, as well as connecting flights to Amsterdam.

85km east of Aachen lies Cologne-Bonn Airport, with flights to numerous UK airports and other destinations.

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