Around 792 A.D. Charlemagne ordered the building of the Palatine Chapel on this site, and the rest of the cathedral was gradually built up around it.
On Christmas Day of the year 800, Charlemagne was crowned “Emperor of the Romans” by Pope Leo III. This did not happen in Aachen, but in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Many later emperors were crowned in Aachen, however. This was customary for several hundred years, until 1531, after which the coronations were held in Frankfurt.
Charlemagne was buried in Aachen when he died in the year 814.
This modern statue of Saint Stephan was made in 1993 and set up just outside the cathedral. There are two saints called Stephan or Stephen, and this statue is of the second one, who was the first King of Hungary from about 1000 until his death in 1038.
A thousand years earlier there was another Saint Stephan who is generally regarded as the first Christian martyr. He was accused of blasphemy and was stoned to death in Jerusalem in about the year 34 A.D.
The streets and houses in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral form a “buffer zone” known officially as a “Monument Protection Area”, to ensure that the surroundings remain appropriate to the character of the historic building.
Since the Aachen Cathedral was built bit by bit over the past twelve centuries, it includes elements of different styles from various epochs of church architecture, which to an uninformed visitor (like me) can seem quite confusing.
I think I would have appreciated the cathedral a lot more if I had gone on the guided tour on the first morning of the VirtualTourist 2015 EuroMeet, but unfortunately I arrived too late in the day to take part.
In 1978, the Aachen Cathedral became the first site in Germany to be inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
GPS 50°46’28.56″ North; 6° 5’3.03″ East
My photos in this post are from 2009 and 2015. I revised the text in 2019.
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