Aachen Travel Guide
Aachen, Aix-la-Chapelle in French (which is also the name frequently used in English), is known for two things: its Dom (cathedral) and its associations to Charlemagne, the ruler of the Germanic Franks. The two are actually intertwined, for the Dom, at least in part, dates from Charlemagne's time. The town itself is both a medieval town and a spa town, which once was the preferred residence of Charlemagne, and later on, for nearly 600 years, the place of coronation of German kings – no fewer than 32 were crowned here. Aachen is now one of Germany's most innovative cities, noted for its prowess in science, engineering and information technology. It is also the westernmost city in Germany, close to the border with Belgium and the Netherlands, and thus has the distinction of having been the first major German city to be liberated by American troops in World War II.
Aachen is located 40 miles (65 km) west of Cologne in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, all but a stone's throw from Belgium and the Netherlands.
Aachen is connected to Cologne, Brussels, Paris and other European and German cities via high-speed trains, and thus easy to reach.
Aachen's visitor draws include its 8th-century Dom, as well as a 14th-century city hall, a series of 17th- and 18th-century Baroque-style buildings, churches and monasteries of note, the neo-classical Elisenbrunnen, and an atmospheric old town with cobblestone lanes and streets, which literally breathe history. The city is also home to a 19th-century university, and, from 1959 until 1992, it was the locale of the world's first discothèque, the Scotch Club.
Among Aachen's most famous sons are Julius Reuter, founder of the ubiquitous Reuters News Agency, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a leading force in the advent of modern architecture.
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