Aachen (or Aix la Chapelle, as it is called in most other countries) is situated in the very west of Germany, right at the borders to the Netherlands and Belgium, about seventy miles to the west of Düsseldorf or Cologne. Being home to about 250,000 inhabitants the town has just about the right size to be exciting enough for a couple of years spent there without making you feel lost on your first visit. Social life in Aachen [1] is mainly dominated by the 30,000 students who turn the market place into one of the biggest open-air-parties north of the alps every sunny day in summer. Fortunately, though, the sun does not shine every day.

Where to go

The tourist attraction of Aachen is the town itself. Having suffered only little damage during the World Wars, the town center consists almost completely of beautiful medieval houses on both sides of narrow cobbled streets, most of them running down the hill between the town hall and the marvellous gothic cathedral [2] which's foundation stone has been laid around the end of the 8th century and where you can still see the remains of Karl the Great (Charlemagne) in an antique sarcophagus (well, you can't actually see them as the latter is kind of metallic, but anyway). Also highly recommended is a visit to Aachen's town hall, especially the Krönungssaal (coronation hall). In this historical place the annual bestowal of the Karlspreis (International Charlemagne Price of the City of Aachen) takes place. Other highlights are the CHIO, the famous international riding and jumping tournament in July and the christmas market in December.

What to eat

Since Aachen does not have its own kind of beer, the people living there had to come up with another local speciality and they eventually invented Printen. These are biscuits not unlike gingerbread, only much, much harder - they will break your teeth if you don't take care. You can buy printen everywhere in Aachen. For the second thing you might want to try I'll have to quote a famous movie: "Do you know what they put on french fries in Aachen instead of Ketchup? Mustard!"

You should not have any difficulties finding a cosy place to have a cup of coffee[3], a good beer[4] or a full three-course dinner. Just keep your eyes open and search in and around the historic city center. And make sure you don't miss out the Hof (a wonderful place with nice cafes a few paces to the east of the cathedral[5]).


[1] This one is the page of the Aachen Tourist Information
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[2] Sorry, the information there are only available in German :-(
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[3] Or tea, if you prefer that one.
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[4] Although this is not sold in pints in Germany.
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[5] If east does not help you I might tell you that the cathedral is almost exactly south of the town hall.
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(C)1999 Richard Brauer

Copyright (C) 2005 Richard Brauer

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