Published: June 16th 2010June 12th 2010
The Cathedral, as old as Charlemagne, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It was rainy & cold today, but Dad & I braved the weather & headed toward Aachen, Germany, which is about an hour & 10 minutes by bus from Maastricht. I figured that since I hadn’t been to Germany in my entire stay in the Netherlands, I should definitely check it out while I still had the opportunity. I had only been to Germany once (Hamburg), but I wasn’t totally impressed so I was hoping that this experience would change my mind. I’m still unsure how I feel about Germany, to be honest. I think it’s because the language is so intimidating. Even when being friendly & nice, it still sounds so harsh & cold. Aachen also didn’t have a lot of English speakers & my German is next to nonexistent. I think in total, I can say about 5 things - I can count to 10 & say “please”, “thank you”, “hello”, & “goodbye”. Enough to be polite, but not enough to get by, really.
Aachen is a beautiful city. Charlemage (“Charles the Great”) made Aachen the center of his powerful empire. During the Middle Ages, Aachen became one of the most important places of pilgrimage next to Rome,
The figures on this puppet fountain are movable!
Jerusalem, & Santiago de Compostela. The Aachen pilgrimage is called the Heiligtumsfahrt & takes place every 7 years, which has been true since 1349. The Great Holy Relics of Aachen are put on display; they include the loincloth of Jesus, the dress of St. Mary, & the burial shroud of St. John the Baptist. The Cathedral has been an Episcopal church since 1930. In 1656, about 88% of the residential buildings in Aachen were destroyed by fire in less than a single day so the city had to be rebuilt. Between 1792 & 1814, Aachen was under the rule of the French, & in 1815, the city feel to Prussia. During World War II, 2/3 of the city was destroyed.
Aachen’s most well-known site is its Cathedral which was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Construction of the Cathedral began in 790 so it’s truly a conglomeration of different architectural styles. The funeral of Charlemagne was conducted here in 814, & his body is buried in a shrine in the Cathedral. Between 936 & 1531, the coronation of 42 kings & queens took place on Charlemagne’s throne.
At the beginning of the 14th century, the
Schnitzel does not equal hot dog
This was quite possibly one of the most interesting lunches I had while in Europe. I think it's the only time when my expectations & reality were 2 completely different things.
Town Hall was built in Aachen. It’s truly impressive & truly a great architectural wonder, second only to the Aachen Cathedral. The building was completed in 1349 for the coronation of Charles IV. The sculptures on the outside of the building are depictions of over 50 German rulers coupled with the coats of arms of several towns with connections to Aachen.
On our way back to the bus station, we walked past one of the old city gates known as Marschiertor. In the 14th century, it was the southern gate of the city walls. The city walls were first constructed in 1166, but as the city expanded, so did the city walls. In total, there were 11 city gates & 22 fortified towers.
One of the most interesting experiences of the day was lunch. As I mentioned before, there wasn’t a lot of English in Aachen, so needless to say there was no English menu at the restaurants. Dad & I decided the best method of attack was trial & error. We recognized “schnitzel” so we figured, wiener schnitzel, that has to be hotdogs, right? WRONG! Schnitzel is essentially breaded meat (pork, veal, etc.), which is pounded out
The Town Hall was completed in the 14th century for the coronation of Charles IV.
into thin pieces. Dad had his served with chili sauce, but I had mine plain. Actually, I don’t want to blog about it because the very thought of it is making me nauseated. So weird. I mean, I ate it, but I learned from my mistake & don’t intend on ever eating it again. Ugh… The cool thing was they served French fries in a canning jar. I thought that was pretty awesome. We also had pretty decent German pilsner beer. So it wasn’t a total loss.
Despite the weather & food issues, we had a nice day in Aachen. Unfortunately, I started feeling sick so we had to head home. I had a terrible headache & a sore throat, so I figured it was just from the change in weather. I mean, yesterday was about 73 & sunny & today was about 53 & rainy. Wrong. I think it’s actually the beginning stages of a cold. Lovely. I would get sick 3 days before sitting on a 7.5 hour flight home… I just hope it passes before Tuesday!
There are more photos below