Aachen was the city to explore on today’s schedule, with the cathedral as the target and getting a haircut also on the to-do list. I have no pictures of the haircut, but lots of cathedral pictures!
First was the haircut. My professor recommended the place, and since I needed a haircut, I went to go check it out. While my hair is rather shorter than I am used to now, it is certainly neater than it was before, and already feels better with less hair in the heat today.
Next was getting the cathedral, which was amazingly simple and fast. The cathedral was amazing, but the experience of visiting it was kind of disappointing, as you will shortly figure out. The site itself is a World Heritage site, which gives you some idea of its importance, and of Aachen’s past glories under Charlemagne, who of course was the joint German and French ruler of the late 700s and early 800s. Evidently Aachen was one of his favorite cities to reside in, and his original part of the cathedral was added on to by many other rulers.
I went through the cathedral first, not knowing that
they want people to pay two euro for the “privilege” of taking pictures inside the cathedral. I did not see the sign until later, but was not caught. The very idea of making people pay to take pictures with their own camera of such a public sight did not strike me favorably. Then I figured out that only people who pay to go on the guided tour get to actually get fairly close to the things that came to see in the first place, Charlemagne’s reliquary, Otto’s tomb, and all the stained glass. So I went to find the information place to get a ticket. Once I finally found it (it is not close to the entrance, strange to say), they informed me that there was a charge to see the treasury and another charge to go on the tour. Surprisingly they had an English tour, which I reluctantly paid for. I had not come all that way to not see what I came to see, but I thought all these separate charges was quite sneaky, compared with all the free churches that I have walked all over and never been charged for seeing.
The tour was
quite good, the tour guide was able to fill in a lot that I did not know about the church, what influenced its design, who donated the reliquaries, and how many stained glass window sets they have gone through since that part of the church was built. At the end of the tour, I received my last disappointment, evidently Charlemagne’s chair in the second story (which is also the chair that many rulers have presided in as well) is undergoing a complete restoration, and it cannot be viewed (what is there to restore about a solid marble chair??). It was kind of a letdown to our whole tour group, but we had no choice but to accept the tour guide’s pronouncement. After that, I headed back to the train station, and got back to Maastricht.
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