The Aachen Chronoskop®

"We only see what we know." This insight was the starting point for deliberations on how to render Aachen's historic palace complex "visible" to all. In addition to construction measures to improve the open spaces around the World Heritage site of Aachen Cathedral, from the very beginning the plan was also to make the significance and history of the area clear to the general public, in other words to tell the story. For only those in the know can recognise the traces of history and appreciate the unique features of the area.

In collaboration with the exhibition designer Monika Müller-Rieger, a concept was developed for public spaces which gave rise to six chronoscopes. These are approx. 2.5-metre-tall columns in which animated images, films are shown on the topic of each column's location. In this way, passers-by are furnished with information on what is special about each particular location, its significance, its origin, and its development over the centuries.


Bild Stadt AachenThe six topics:

  • The Cathedral – whose central structure, the Octagon, dates back to Charlemagne
  • Today's Town Hall – formerly the Aula Regia, the representative royal building of the Carolingians
  • The Palace Complex – which united religious and secular power in a single architectural ensemble
  • The Granus Tower – the well-preserved part of the Palace Complex, whose former purpose is still a puzzle
  • The Capitulare de Villis – which contains rules for the management of the royal estates and an exceptionally diverse list of crops and medicinal plants
  • The mineral thermal springs – important for the Romans and the Carolingians in their times, and for Aachen to this day

The chronoscopes will play short films – each about 2 minutes long – that provide scientifically up-to-date information in an entertaining way. Three persons can look through the peepholes of a chronoscope at the same time, and talk to each other about what they see. Because the peepholes are installed on three different levels, small children and people in wheelchairs can also enjoy the experience.

The stations of the Route Charlemagne,or example the Centre Charlemagne and of course the Cathedral and the Cathedral Information (reception centre for visitors), are closely linked and coordinated with the chronoscopes. In the closing credits of the films, each chronoscope includes references to relevant further information in the museums and information centres, and of course to historical buildings that are open to the public.

Lessons in town history for passers-by

The chronoscopes represent a means of communicating town history with the lowest possible threshold. Passers-by come across them as if by chance. Their curiosity is aroused by the opportunity to take a peek at something concealed inside. The style of presentation in the films with their animated images picks up on viewing habits that are particularly appreciated by children and adolescents. 

A novel development for Aachen

The Chronoskop® is a completely novel development for the City of Aachen. What other city has a visual element like this in its public spaces, one with which several people can take a trip back through time together? No wonder then that the Müller-Rieger agency has registered intellectual property rights on a European level.

The Chronoskop® was developed in a long and sensitive process which has exemplary quality. It was developed specifically for Aachen by a renowned exhibition designer in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team. Experts in history, preservation of historical monuments, urban design and media sciences have all shared in the creation of the "chronoscope" idea, its further development and the details of its design and content.

Overview of the locations and topics

Start the films by clicking on the respective stations.

Die Aachener Chronoskope ® Station Dom Station Granusturm Station Königsgüter Station: Pfalz Station Rathaus Station Thermaquellen

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Frau Weitenberg (Abt. Stadterneuerung und Stadtgestaltung)

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