At 65 km west of Cologne, at a real crossroad of views and ideas, three countries meet - Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is in the territory of Germany that the oldest Catholic church in Northern Europe is located in Aachen.
After Karl the Great became king of the Franks, the state began to flourish economically and politically. Called the "Father of Europe", it extends it to Western and Central Europe. He was crowned by the pope himself as the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. It was on his orders that the construction of the cathedral began. The city is rich in mineral springs and a large number of wildlife, which explains why the king chose this city as the capital of his empire.
photo: Frank Kehren
During the 800 year, the first foundations of the octagonal basilica were laid. Only the churches of Constantinople of that time had a similar dome, and it focused mainly on height. The oldest part of the cathedral is the chapel, which was built in 786. It is described as a masterpiece of Carolingian art. The Byzantine Church of San Vitale was used as the basis for the project.
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The cathedral itself combines architectural styles from the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire, with the construction of the chapel taking nearly 10 years. The ruler was also buried there in 814, and in 881 the Vikings destroyed it. It takes 102 years - up to 983 years - until the building is rebuilt. For the next 600 years, all German kings were crowned there. In 1165, Charlemagne was canonized as a saint, which made the cathedral an important place of worship.
Charlemagne bust of Charlemagne
Different architectural styles have been used for the interior of the cathedral - "coexist" Byzantine mosaics, Gothic decorations, Carolingian elements and a large amount of gold. The cathedral itself is divided into 2 parts, with the chapel in one part and 8 decorated arches in the other, as well as the throne on which Charles the Great is crowned. The throne itself is made quite simply, despite expectations for a rich ornament of ornaments.
The throne of Charlemagne
It houses various works of art made by Carolingian workers. The two most notable things inside are the Golden Altar and the Gothic Choir. Visitors can also see 4 of the most important relics collected by Charlemagne - the payment of the Holy Virgin and the clothing of the infant Jesus, the cloth of Jesus and the cloth on which the severed head of St. John the Baptist lay. It is these relics that have attracted millions of worshipers from all Christian lands since the Middle Ages.
The Western Gate features 4 massive bronze doors, known as the "Wolf Gate", cast back in 800 BC. They weigh as much as 4 tons, based on other ancient models for making this type of door. In the hall you can see a statue of a wolf brought by the emperor himself in the 2nd century AD. From the middle of the fourteenth century great relics began to be exhibited once in the 7 years, and to this day this custom continues to be respected.
There are legends among the believers that the emperor himself died on his throne, wearing his shining armor and was buried with it, keeping the body of the emperor in an extremely well preserved state. During the Second World War, the cathedral survived miraculously after the fall of an aircraft bomb did not explode and this kept the building from catastrophic destruction. In the cathedral treasury you can see other works of art without analog in the world.
photo: Frank Kehren
Since the 1978 year, the cathedral is one of the first 12 sites listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is the first German and only the third European site to be honored. To this day, the Aachen Cathedral is an important part of the history and culture of the Christian world. It is a favorite tourist destination for millions of tourists and pilgrims from all over the world. Due to its unaltered design, and its continued active functioning, the cathedral is still an attractive force for all believers.
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