In 1987 my cousin (technically my second cousin, the son of my mother’s cousin) moved to Germany and never came back to the US. Well, he visits the US, but has lived in Aachen since finishing his PhD there. Aachen is very close to the border of the Netherlands, and this presented itself as a perfect opportunity for us to reconnect. We had not seen each other in over 30 years, I think.
We said good-bye to C and B in Amsterdam where they headed home after a great two-week vacation with us. The parting was not too sorrowful as we see them very soon.
It seems that we take the extreme weather with us wherever we travel. In Haarlem/Amsterdam it was the hottest day of the year, and when we arrived in Aachen (an hour late due to train issues, probably exacerbated by the heat), the high temps had followed us.
Therefore, our tour of the old city was a Blitz Tour, although I am sure that we could have spent more time exploring if we were not wilting.
Aachen’s highlight is the cathedral, constructed under Charlemagne’s rule and the final resting place of the emperor. The cathedral has a rich and long history starting in 786 AD. The architecture is Byzantine with stunning mosaics which reminded me of the Chora Church and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. These mosaics have been refurbished to their original glory. The octagonal vault in the center of the cathedral is the perfect setting for the tall stained glass windows and the chandelier. For almost 600 years, this was the church where German Kings and Queens were coronated.
Like other buildings we’ve visited, this one has been built upon, enlarged, and changed over the centuries as needed. Thank goodness it survived with little or no damage during the wars and became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
I did not take any interior photos, but you can see many good ones here. I would recommend it since words cannot do the church justice.
During our Blitz Tour, we looked at the City Hall as well as this puppet fountain with moving parts. Apparently, if you move the correct part, you will be surprised and rewarded with a spray of water from the top. I guess we were not persistent enough. Neither were the people in this youtube video.
We ended our tour with a trip to the ice cream place where I enjoyed a Schwarzwald Becher.