A Brief History of Aachen
The Celts and later the Romans already enjoyed the Aquae Granni, the hottest springs north of the Alps, but Aachen’s fame came when Charlemagne (742-814) made it his preferred residence. Over a period of 600 years, 32 German kings were crowned here, starting with Otto I in 936. Many Reichstage (Imperial Diets) met here. After Charlemagne had become a saint in 1165, the town rapidly developed as one of the premier pilgrimage sites in Europe.
The city’s decline started in the late Middle Ages. From the 16th century, the coronations took place in Frankfurt and in 1656 a town fire destroyed 80% of the town. It suffered severe damage during World War II and, as the westernmost city in Germany, was the first to be liberated by American troops. The most important cultural sites were restored soon after.
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