Historian highlights: Aachen

Aachen old town
Aachen old town

Historian highlights: Aachen

by Tamala Malerk
Stripes Europe

As someone who studied history in college and graduate school, I was excited at the prospect of moving to Europe where there seems to history everywhere. Germany has more than exceeded my expectations when I ended up living seven minutes from a medieval castle, Lichtenberg Castle.


I recently spent a few days in the German city of Aachen, “the city of Charlemagne,” where I was surrounded by history. Literally, the city is surrounded by the debris of a 14th-century fortress where you can randomly stumble upon a gate or tower as you walk to the Eurogress to catch the latest ballet, concert or play.


If you have ever dreamed of being a 19th-century aristocrat, or at least are somewhat curious about how they lived, the Couven Museum is the place for you. This is a house museum where each room demonstrates how a house may have been decorated by an upper-class citizen during this era. I marveled at the large collection of gold teapots and kettles. I was shocked at the room intentionally adorned in different tile styles so that the owner could decide which ones they wanted for the rest of the house. Once you have finished touring the house, you can go to one of the many restaurants and cafes right outside the door.


One way to get your steps in Aachen is to stroll along Route Charlemagne, which contains such treasures as the Center of Charlemagne, the aforementioned Couven Museum, the SuperC Student Study Center at the University of Aachen, the Dom, the International Newspaper Museum, city hall and the historic Grashaus.


At the Center of Charlemagne, one can learn all about the history of Aachen and see tons of artifacts, interactive exhibits and information dating as far back as the ninth century. At the Dom, I recommend paying the six euros for the guided tour so that you can not only see all the amazing stained glass in the Dom but the throne of Charlemagne that Napoleon took upon himself to completely desecrate by having it carved down to his standards. If media and news are your thing, head on over to the International Newspaper Museum, which houses more than 200,000 German and international newspapers that date back as far as the 16th century.


If you cannot decide between all of the museums, make sure to pick up the “Six-for-Six” card, which gives you one admission each to the five municipal museums and the city hall for 14 euros.


If you are willing to go on a little drive, you can take yourself to my favorite spot on the trip, The Three Country Point, where the borders of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet. You can nerd out and stand in three countries at once. There is something for everyone there, such as hiking trails, playgrounds for the children, a restaurant and coffee shop and a souvenir store.

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