Unesco-Welterbe Aachener Dom Header Alternative © aachen tourist service e.v

Aachen Cathed­ral


Ger­many's first UN­ESCO World Her­it­age Site

In 1978, the cathed­ral be­came the first ever Ger­man cul­tur­al monu­ment to be des­ig­nated a UN­ESCO World Her­it­age Site. Its his­tory dates back to the Em­per­or Char­le­magne.

In 1978, Aachen Cathed­ral be­came the first ever Ger­man cul­tur­al monu­ment to be ad­ded to the UN­ESCO World Her­it­age List. The cathed­ral is im­mensely sig­ni­fic­ant in terms of both ar­chi­tec­ture and art his­tory. It is one of the best pre­served ar­chi­tec­tur­al monu­ments of the Car­oling­i­an peri­od.

The cathed­ral’s found­a­tion stone was laid some­time around 790 AD by Char­le­magne with the towers of his Pal­at­ine Chapel (Pfalzkappelle) dat­ing from this time. Upon Char­le­magne’s death in 814, the Aachen Cathed­ral was chosen as the em­per­or’s buri­al place. His re­mains were later trans­ferred to the Shrine of Char­le­magne, which can still be ad­mired at the cathed­ral today. His grave is part of the cathed­ral’s treas­ury. It is not least be­cause of this that the cathed­ral’s treas­ury is among the most im­port­ant ec­cle­si­ast­ic­al treas­ur­ies in Europe.

Otto I made Aachen Cathed­ral a coron­a­tion church in 936: more than 30 Ger­man rulers were crowned here over the course of 600 years. In­side the cathed­ral the coron­a­tion throne may be viewed, but only on guided tours. The Goth­ic choir hall, which can also be seen on guided tours, is home to the largest win­dow of the Goth­ic era, which meas­ures some 27 metres high.

Im­per­i­al gifts

Oth­er im­press­ive sights in­clude the huge chan­delier housed in the oc­ta­gon, which was ori­gin­ally donated by Em­per­or Fre­d­er­ick Bar­bar­ossa. Or the im­press­ive cathed­ral gate, the first bronze cast­ing north of the Alps. Its li­on heads are the source of a fas­cin­at­ing le­gend: the thumb of the dev­il is said to be stuck in them.

Every sev­en years the Aachen Cathed­ral stages a spe­cial high­light event for pil­grims: then the golden Shrine of St. Mary (Mari­ens­chrein) is opened and the four reliquar­ies it holds are dis­played to be­liev­ers. These in­clude Mary’s dress, Je­sus’ swad­dling clothes, the de­cap­it­a­tion cloth of John the Baptist and the loin­cloth of Christ. The shrine it­self is shown dur­ing guided tours.

More in­form­a­tion:

Open daily through­out the year
Janu­ary - March: 07:00 – 18:00
April - Decem­ber: daily 07:00 - 19:00

Pil­grim­age every sev­en years (next one in 2021)

Map of NRW

Images and videos


Be inspired: images of your NRW

Der Aachener Dom im Winter, © Foto Oliver Franke / Tourismus NRW e.V.
Der Aachener Dom in seiner ganzen Pracht, © aachen tourist service e.v.
Das Unesco-Welterbe Aachener Dom, © aachen tourist service e.v. / A.Steindl
The Aachen Cathedral, © aachen tourist service e.v.
Bei Sonnenschein strahlt der Aachener Dom in vollem Glanz, © Foto Oliver Franke / Tourismus NRW e.V.

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