Aachener Dom (Aachen Cathedral), Aachen

Aachener Dom (Aachen Cathedral), Aachen (must see)

The Aachen Cathedral is one of the oldest in Europe. It was constructed on the orders of Charlemagne in 796. The finished building, then known as the Palatine Chapel, was consecrated by Pope Leo III in 805. Charlemagne was buried in the chapel in 814.

Antipope Paschal III canonized Charlemagne in 1165, and the chapel began drawing pilgrims from all over Europe. The traffic spawned a burst of construction activity over the next 700 years, with the choir hall, glass chapel, cupola, and steeple all being added.

Like the rest of the city, bombs heavily damaged the cathedral during World War II. Thankfully, however, the basic structure survived, and its art treasures had been previously removed for safe keeping. Bringing the cathedral back to its former glory was a 30-year, 40-million-Euro project.

The core building of the cathedral is the Carolingian Octagon, or Palatine Chapel. It was built based on the Byzantine buildings of the time. The domed octagonal interior was designed by architect Odo of Metz, the earliest known architect north of the Alps.

The upper gallery is divided by ancient columns. These came from St. Gereon in Cologna, spolia Charlemagne brought to Aachen from Rome during the eighth century.

The geometry of the Carolingian Octagon is equally fascinating. Researchers have traced a previously unknown unit of measurement back to the structure--322.4 mm. This has come to be known as the Carolingian foot.

The eight sides of the octagon symbolize the eighth day and the resurrection of Jesus. Ten is also a reoccurring number in the structure since it symbolized perfection in Medieval architecture. For example, the diameter of the building is 100 (10 x 10) Carolingian feet, as is the dome's height.

Notable items in the cathedral include Charlemagne's throne, the Shrine of St. Mary, the Barbarossa chandelier, and the Pala d'Oro. The church served as the coronation church for German kings for over 500 years. The precise final resting place of Charlemagne is unknown, but it is believed to be in the Persephone sarcophagus under the west tower. The actual sarcophagus is now part of the Cathedral Treasury's collection.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Aachen. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Aachener Dom (Aachen Cathedral) on Map

Sight Name: Aachener Dom (Aachen Cathedral)
Sight Location: Aachen, Germany (See walking tours in Aachen)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Aachen, Germany

Create Your Own Walk in Aachen

Create Your Own Walk in Aachen

Creating your own self-guided walk in Aachen is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Aachen's Historical Buildings Tour

Aachen's Historical Buildings Tour

Evolved from an ancient Roman settlement, Aachen is one of the oldest and most historic cities in Germany. At one time it served as the capital of Holy Roman Empire. Today's Aachen is just a small city yet with a very rich history and stunning architecture. Despite being heavily damaged during World War II, some of its historical buildings have survived to our days courtesy of the strenuous...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Aachen Introduction Walking Tour

Aachen Introduction Walking Tour

The area that is now home to Aachen has been occupied since at least Neolithic times. The mineral springs have drawn people here for eons, and historians have found evidence of settlements from the Bronze and Iron Ages. In those days, the area was settled by the Celtic peoples. They probably came here to worship Grannus, god of light and healing.

The Romans built the town as a spa resort...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles