Charlemagne (Karl der Grosse, 742 - 814) ordered the construction of the cathedral to express his power. Originally, it was his Palace Chapel, called the Palatine Chapel.
Charlemagne was also buried in the chapel in 814.
After his canonization in 1165, the chapel became highly attractive to pilgrims. The cathedral was then enlarged with a gothic choir hall.
From 936 to 1531 the coronation of the kings of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation took place in the cathedral.
The cathedral suffered first from a Viking raid in 881 but was restored 983.
It was also severely damaged during WWII, but thankfully the core structure remained. Although many of the interior objects have been hidden during the war, a lot of the decorations, as well as the altar, the cloister and choir hall, had to be restored.
In 1978 it was one of the first 12 sites to be declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the first German site.
And... you might find the thumb of the devil (see Fun&Interesting)
Architecture & Art
Odo de Metz designed the Palatine Chapel based on the, at that point, modern Byzantine style. Its base is of octagonal shape.
The high dome with an inner diameter of about 14,5 meters, gathers light from eight circular arched windows. A two-story circuit lays below. On a gallery stands a marble throne. The inner octagon is surrounded by a sixteen-sided walkway.
It was also the first domed building north of the Alps, since the days of antique, and remained the largest chapel north of the Alps for 200 years.
The dome mosaic was recreated according to medieval sources. It is supposed that the original mosaic dates back to the erection of the chapel in 800 and illustrated Christ surrounded by the symbols of the Four Evangelists.
In the Miggle Ages, this octagonal core was greatly enlarged and the Gothic choir and a series of chapels were added.
Fun & Interesting
The Aachen Cathedral was one of the first 12 sites to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Do you want to touch the devil's thumb? Yes, it might be here.
When the money was tight to finish the cathedral, the city fathers of Aachen made a deal with the devil. He gave them the money and they gave him the soul of the first mortal being that enters the cathedral. The citizens wanted to trick the devil and send a wolf through the door. The devil was so much in rage when we found out that he was tricked, that he slammed the cathedral door and lost his thumb.
When you enter the cathedral you will see the huge bronze doors decorated with 2 lion heads. It is said that if you put your finger in the hole of the lion head, you can feel the devil's thumb.
Good luck 😉
The entrance to the cathedral is free.
However, if you want to take pictures inside, you will have to pay 1 Euro. A fair price, given that there is so much to see inside and to support the conservation of this amazing building.
Type of activities
For CouplesFor Solo TravelersPopular / TouristicWheelchair Accessible