‘I visited one of Germany’s most historic cities and it was spectacular’

Located near the Vaalserberg, the point where the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet (Dreilandenpunt) is a charming German city steeped in European history.

Aachen is home to one of the oldest cathedrals in the world, the spectacular structure was ordered by Emperor Charlemagne and was completed around the year 800.

Famous for uniting the majority of Western and Central Europe, Charlemagne’s staggering gold and silver casket now sits pride of place inside the cathedral, backdropped by awe-inspiring stained-glass windows.

Entrance to the cathedral is free of charge, although there is €1 (87p) fee to take photos – which is excellent value considering that the delicately painted ceiling and lavish marble and stone interior make for astonishing viewing and photograph well. 

Next to Aachen Cathedral is the Cathedral Treasury, a museum housing one of the largest and well-respected collections of artefacts and relics relating to western Christianity in the world.

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Highlights include an incredible Gothic bust of Charlemagne, The Ottonian cross of Lothair, and the olifant and hunting knife that supposedly belonged to Charlemagne. Entrance to the Treasury is €7 (£6.08) for adults.

Standing tall in the centre of the market square is the spectacular Aachen City Hall. Built in the 14th century, the stunning building is now home to the mayor and Aachen and a museum showcasing the history of this special city. 

The town hall is open daily from 10am – 6pm and entrance is €6 (£5.21), however some rooms may be closed due to “special events”.

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An experience in itself, the market square has a fairytale-like atmosphere with its central fountain and rows of cafes. Visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays may experience the popular Aachen market. From November 24 – December 23 the traditional German Christmas market takes over, creating an unforgettable festive experience.

The Internationales Zeitungsmuseum, or International Newspaper Museum, is a small, yet impressive, exhibition housing a collection of 300,000 international newspapers from five centuries. Entrance to the museum is €6 (£5.21).

Paul Julius Reuter founded the international news agency Reuters in Aachen by initially sending homing pigeons between Aachen and Brussels, subsequently linking Paris and Berlin. The house in which Reuter started this operation is still available to see in Aachen, located next to an Italian restaurant.

Aachen is a spa town, with the Romans relaxing and bathing in the city’s natural water springs. You too can experience the effects of the mineral springs at the Carolus Thermen, a thermal spa with indoor and outdoor pools.

A relaxing way to spend a few hours towards the end of the day, thankfully, swimming costumes are mandatory. Basic entrance to the spa Monday – Friday is €14 (£12.15) and €16 (£13.89) on weekends and public holidays. 

A slightly alternative activity for this historic town is a visit to the Ludwig Forum for International Art. Featuring pieces by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the impressive and light exhibition space is home to some of the finest contemporary artworks. Entrance to the Ludwig Forum for International Art is €6 (£5.21).

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