Aachen history


Aachen - historical information

Stone quarry on Lousberg (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e. V.


A Stone Age flint stone quarry on the Lousberg (approx. 3000-2500 BC) and other Stone Age findings bear witness to the fact that the Aachen region was inhabited quite a long time ago. Until the 1st century AD the Celts settled in the Aachen area and still today their heritage can be found in the many names of places and from the locations in the fields that are of Celtic origin.

After this period the Romans turned Aachen into a military spa town. Here they built temples and bath buildings for the ritual and recreational use of the Roman legionaries. Burtscheid was also a Roman spa as early as the 1st century. Frank tombs from the middle of the 7th century show that today’s Aachen city centre was inhabited by the Franks at that time.




Aachen was named in writing for the first time by King Pippin as “Aquis villa“.


Aachen cathedral


King Charlemagne resided in Aachen – approx. 20 years later the Palace and the Palace Chapel (today’s Cathedral) were built. The town became his favourite residence and thereby the centre of his empire.


Charlemagne (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e. V.


Charlemagne died and was buried in the Palace Chapel. Otto I was crowned as king in 936. From that time onwards Aachen remained the coronation place of the German kings for more than 600 years.




Otto III was buried in the Cathedral.


Monument of Charlemagne (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e. V.


Charlemagne was canonised. Friedrich I confirmed the rights of liberty for Aachen, which he saw as the capital and centre point of his empire. The  town was given the market rights and the prerogative of coinage.




The first city wall was built.


City wall (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e.V.


After a siege that had lasted for six months, the town was taken by William II of Holland who was crowned as king in Aachen. The outer ring wall was built from 1257 to 1357. This ring wall was only exceeded in the 19th century with the growing expansion of the city.


'Marienshrine' (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e.V


The cloth millers who had been the backbone of the Aachen economy for many centuries were named in the official archives for the first time.
The first Aachen “Heiligtumsfahrt” (pilgrimage) took place in 1349. Since then masses of pilgrims have undertaken the journey to Aachen every seven years.




Karl (Charles) V was crowned as king.


Coronation place in the Cathedral (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen


The last coronation in Aachen of a German king (Ferdinand I) took place.

A census in 1601 counted 14,171 inhabitants, of which 2,829 people are citizens according to law.




The big Aachen fire.




The revolution war between Spain and France was concluded by the Aachen Peace.




 Peace congress with the goal of ending the Austrian war of succession.




The occupation of Aachen by French revolutionary troops brought a lot of suffering to the city. Numerous cultural artefacts were deported to Paris. In 1802 Aachen became the administrative capital of the French Roer department and thereby official French territory.




As a result of the Viennese Congress, Aachen was given to Prussia.

The three Emperors Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, Franz of Austria and Tsar Alexander of Russia reaffirmed their alliances on the “Congress of the Monarchs” in 1818.


Theatre Aachen (c) Stadt Aachen


Opening of the theatre.

In 1830 Aachen saw a revolt of its workers. Due to the introduction of steam power into the cloth industry, the increasing mechanisation and the resulting unemployment as well as women and child labour at minimal wages, workers took to the streets. The revolt was crushed violently by armed citizens and soldiers.




The first municipal library was opened.




The station quarter and the Theaterstrasse were the first housing developments outside the old city wall.


Technical University (RWTH) (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e.V.


The foundation stone of the Polytechnical School was laid by Wilhelm I. The institute has developed into today’s Rhineland-Westphalia Technical University (RWTH) Aachen.

The village of Burtscheid was incorporated into the city of Aachen in 1897. As a result the population of Aachen rose to 126.407.




As a result of WWI the western outskirts of Aachen and the adjacent countryside including the district of Eupen were given to Belgium, which occupied the city for eleven years.

From 1925 Aachen organised annual equestrian tournaments.


Aachen's Cathedral (c) Herrmann


The diocese of Aachen was created. 




The city council was dissolved. All senior civil servants of city and state were replaced by members of the NSDAP (Nazi party).

The Aachen Pilgrimage of 1937 attracted 800,000 participants, who used the event as a “mute protest” against the Nazi ideology.




Aachen is situated at the most western tip of Germany. Therefore the city was heavily involved in the events of the war. In July 1941 the first of five air attacks was flown against Aachen. On the 21 October 1944 the city was liberated by the Americans after 6 weeks of intense fighting – approx. 65% of all houses and flats had been destroyed. At the end of the war, Aachen had only 11,139 inhabitants left. The most important facilities were reinstalled in 1945. However, a large-scale reconstruction of the city was out of the question for quite a long time.

The Americans were replaced by the British, whose occupation was followed by that of the Belgians in 1946. The number of inhabitants of Aachen had risen again to about 100,000. This was mainly due to the return of those people that had been forced to evacuate their homes during the war.


International Charlemagen Award (c) Herrmann


The “Internationaler Karlspreis der Stadt Aachen“ (International Charlemagne Award) was awarded for the first time in the Coronation Hall of the Aachen Town Hall.


Aachen's hospital complex 'Klinikum' (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e. V.


In 1972 Aachen’s population rose to 237,108 due to the incorporation of the neighbouring communities of Brand, Eilendorf, Haaren, Kornelimünster, Laurensberg, Richterich and Walheim.

The new hospital complex (the so-called “Klinikum”, which had been named “Europe’s largest construction site” for many years) was finally completed.




In 1985 the leader of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia at the time, Johannes Rau, officially handed over the hospital to the RWTH Aachen.

In 1987 Aachen counted 249,000 inhabitants.

The RWTH had 36,183 students.


Ludwig Forum (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e. V.


Opening of the Ludwig Forum for International Art.    




Aachen’s new synagogue was inaugurated in 1995 with a festive ceremony and the participation of numerous guests of honour from Germany as well as other countries.


The seal of Charlemagne (c) Verkehrsverein Bad Aachen e.V.


Exhibition “Coronations – Kings in Aachen – History and Myth“


Carolus Thermen (spa) (c) Olaf Rohl


Opening of the Carolus Thermen Bad Aachen (Carolus Baths of the Aachen Spa).




Exhibition "Ex-Oriente - Isaac and the white elephant"


Weltreiterspiele 2006


World Equestrian Games 2006

Altar Aachener Dom

More than als 90,000 pilgrims visit Aachen in order to see the four relics treasured in Aachen.
The Aachen pilgrimage takes place every seven years.

Der Aachener Dom

The Aachen cathedral celebrates 30 years of UNESCO World Heritage membership.

Das Aachener Rathaus

Kick off Route Charlemagne
In the course of the EuRegionale 2008 the Route Charlemagne has been created. The Aachen town hall presents a new exposition area as first part of the Route Charlemagne.

Ceres und Amor (c) KHM Wien

Exposition „Hans von Aachen“ at the Suermondt Ludwig museum.


Hotel-Buchungsportal des aachen tourist service e.v.


Stadtführungen des aachen tourist service e.v.