Step Back in Time: A Walking Tour of Aachen’s Old Town

Welcome to Aachen, a city with a rich history that spans back to the Roman Empire. Aachen’s Old Town is a treasure trove of historical landmarks and architectural gems that transport visitors back in time. In this article, we’ll take you on a walking tour of the Old Town, highlighting some of the most notable landmarks and historical sites that the city has to offer. From the grand Aachen Cathedral, which was the first site of coronation for Holy Roman Emperors, to the charming narrow streets and half-timbered houses, you’ll discover the rich cultural heritage of Aachen. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a unique way to explore the city, this tour will take you on a journey through time. So, lace up your walking shoes and join us as we step back in time and discover the Old Town of Aachen.

Come explore Aachen, a city steeped in history, culture and natural beauty that offers something for everyone:

  1. Uncover the beauty and history of Aachen Cathedral as you explore the intricate architecture, admire the stunning mosaics and relive the rich cultural heritage of one of the most iconic landmarks of the city
  2. Stroll through the city’s market square and experience the vibrant atmosphere and rich history of Aachen
  3. Explore the grandeur of Aachen’s City Hall and take a step back in time, admiring the intricate carvings, frescoes, and stained glass windows that adorn the council chamber and the peaceful inner courtyard
  4. Relax and rejuvenate at the Elisenbrunnen, where the Carolus Thermen thermal baths offer a variety of wellness treatments, and the Neo-Classical building provides a beautiful and peaceful ambiance
  5. Dive into the colorful and vibrant culture of Aachener Karneval by visiting the Aachener Karneval Museum, where you can explore the history of this famous carnival celebration and admire the costumes, masks, and floats from past parades
  6. Explore the rich history of Aachen’s fortifications by visiting the Ponttor, a well-preserved medieval gate that offers a glimpse into the city’s defensive past and a chance to admire the intricate carvings and sculptures that adorn the gate’s arch

1. Uncover the beauty and history of Aachen Cathedral

Start your day at the Aachen Cathedral, also known as the “Imperial Cathedral”, a masterpiece of Carolingian architecture. The cathedral was built in the 8th century by Charlemagne, the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, as his palace chapel and was later expanded upon by his successors. It is considered one of the most important examples of Carolingian architecture and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The cathedral is an octagonal building with a central dome and four smaller domes at the corners. Its interior is adorned with intricate mosaics and precious metalwork, including the famous golden altar screen, known as the “Palatine Chapel”. The cathedral’s treasury is a must-see, it contains the relics of Charlemagne and other important figures from the Middle Ages.

The Aachen Cathedral is not only an architectural masterpiece, but it also holds significant historical and cultural importance. It is a symbol of the power and influence of the Carolingian Empire and a testament to the architectural achievements of the Middle Ages. Visiting the Aachen Cathedral is a must for anyone interested in history, culture, and architecture.

Pro Tip: Visiting Aachen and playing a scavenger hunt city tour is a fun and interactive way to explore the city. A scavenger hunt city tour is a game in which you follow clues and complete challenges in order to discover hidden gems and landmarks in the city.

One way to play a scavenger hunt city tour in Aachen is to use the smartphone app Explorial, which will provide you with a list of challenges and clues to follow. These challenges can range from finding specific landmarks or completing tasks in certain locations to answering trivia questions about the city’s history and culture.

As you complete challenges and follow clues, you’ll have the opportunity to discover hidden corners of the city and learn about its history and culture in a fun and interactive way. You’ll also get the chance to meet other travelers and make new friends as you explore the city together.

2. Stroll through the city’s market square

Next, head to the city’s market square, known as the “Marktplatz”. This is the heart of the city’s Old Town and a popular destination for visitors. The Market Square is a lively and vibrant area, with many outdoor cafes, restaurants, and shops. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal while taking in the atmosphere of the square. The square is also a great place to grab a bite to eat or a drink while taking in the lively atmosphere of the city.

The square is also a popular spot for events and festivals, such as the annual Aachener Karneval and the Christmas market. The Aachener Karneval is one of the most famous carnival celebrations in Germany and takes place annually in February. The Christmas market, which takes place annually in December, is one of the most popular in Germany and offers a great selection of Christmas gifts, food, and drink.

You can take a walk around the square and admire the architecture of the surrounding half-timbered buildings. The Market Square is a great place to start a walking tour of the Old Town, as it is surrounded by many notable landmarks and historical sites, including the City Hall, which dates back to the 14th century, and the Elisenbrunnen.

3. Explore the grandeur of Aachen’s City Hall

The City Hall (Rathaus) is a notable historical building, that dates back to the 14th century and is a great example of Gothic architecture. It was originally built as a town hall and was later expanded upon and renovated over the centuries.

The City Hall is known for its impressive council chamber, which is decorated with intricate carvings, frescoes, and stained glass windows. The council chamber is open to visitors and is a popular spot for guided tours. The inner courtyard of the City Hall is also a must-see, it’s a beautiful and peaceful spot with a central fountain and surrounded by historical buildings.

The City Hall has played an important role in the city’s history, it was used as a meeting place for the city council and also served as a residence for the city’s governors. Today, the City Hall is used for administrative and ceremonial purposes and is open to the public for tours and events.

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4. Relax and rejuvenate at the Elisenbrunnen

As you continue our walk the Elisenbrunnen is a beautiful Neo-Classical building, built in the 19th century and is known for its thermal baths and spas. The Carolus Thermen, located inside the Elisenbrunnen, is one of the most famous thermal baths in Aachen and offers a variety of wellness treatments, including saunas, steam baths, and massages.

The Elisenbrunnen is named after the Elisabeth-Marie-Stift, a charitable foundation founded by Princess Elisabeth Marie of Bavaria, who donated the funds to build the complex. The complex was built in the style of a Roman thermal bath and is a great example of Neo-Classical architecture.

The Elisenbrunnen is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, who come to enjoy the thermal baths and the relaxation and wellness treatments offered. Here you can take a break from sightseeing and enjoy the relaxation and wellness treatments offered by the Carolus Thermen. It’s a great way to experience a bit of Aachen’s historical and cultural heritage while enjoying a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

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5. Dive into the colorful and vibrant culture of Aachener Karneval

As we walk through the narrow streets of the Old Town, we’ll come across the Aachener Karneval Museum, which is dedicated to the city’s famous carnival celebration. The museum offers a glimpse into the history and origins of the Aachener Karneval, which can be traced back to the Middle Ages. You can see exhibits of costumes, masks, and floats from past carnival celebrations, as well as photographs and other artifacts that showcase the event’s evolution over time. The Museum also has interactive exhibits and animations that allow visitors to learn more about the history and traditions of the carnival.

The museum also offers visitors the opportunity to see the costumes, masks, and other elements used in the parades and other events of the carnival. Visitors can also learn about the different traditions of the carnival, such as the “Weiberfastnacht” (Women’s Carnival), the “Schull- un Veedelszöch” (School and District Parades), and “Kappensitzungen” (Sessions of the Carnival Clubs).

The Aachener Karneval Museum is a great addition to your visit to the city, especially if you’re planning to attend the carnival. The museum is a great way to learn more about the event and its history, as well as to see the costumes, masks, and other elements used in the parades and other events of the carnival.

6. Explore the rich history of Aachen’s fortifications by visiting the Ponttor

The Ponttor is a great addition to your route. This is a well-preserved medieval gate, in fact, it is one of the last remaining gates of the city’s fortifications and offers visitors a glimpse into the city’s defensive history. The gate was built in the 14th century as part of the city’s defensive walls and is a great example of medieval architecture.

The Ponttor is a three-story building, with a gate on the ground floor and a walkway on the top floor. The gate is adorned with a beautiful arch, which is decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures. You can’t miss the opportunity to walk to the top floor, which offers a great view of the city and the surrounding area.

The Ponttor played an important role in the city’s history, serving as a defensive barrier and a symbol of the city’s power and wealth. Here you will learn about the history of the gate and the city’s fortifications and also admire the intricate architecture and sculptures.

Overall, the walking tour of Aachen’s Old Town is a great way to explore the city and discover its rich cultural heritage. The tour offers a glimpse into the city’s history and allows visitors to take in the charming atmosphere of the Old Town. So, lace up your walking shoes and join us on a journey through time as we discover the Old Town of Aachen.


Discover the City’s Museums

Aachen is home to several notable museums that offer visitors a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage and history. Here are a few museums to consider visiting while in Aachen:

  1. Suermondt-Ludwig Museum – This art museum is home to a collection of works from the Middle Ages to the present day, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from renowned artists such as Rubens, Monet, and Renoir.
  2. Couven Museum – This museum is dedicated to the city’s 18th-century history and is housed in a beautiful Baroque townhouse. Visitors can see exhibits of furniture, ceramics, and textiles from the period and learn more about the everyday life of the city’s citizens.
  3. Aachener Printenmuseum – This is a museum dedicated to the city’s famous Printen gingerbread. Visitors can learn about the history and production of gingerbread and also see the museum’s collection of molds and other artifacts.
  4. Internationales Zeitungsmuseum Aachen – This museum is dedicated to the history of newspapers and printing. Visitors can see exhibits of old newspapers, printing presses, and other artifacts, and learn about the history of the newspaper industry.
  5. Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst – This contemporary art museum exhibits works of art from the second half of the 20th century to the present.

Exploring Aachen with Kids

Aachen, is a great destination for families with children, as it offers a variety of activities and attractions that are both fun and educational. Here are a few things to do in Aachen with kids:

  1. Aachener Tierpark – Aachen’s Zoo is a great destination for families and animal lovers. Visitors can see a wide variety of animals, including big cats, primates, and reptiles.
  2. Carolus Thermen – The Elisenbrunnen thermal baths are a great place for families to relax and enjoy some fun in the water. The complex also offers a variety of wellness treatments, such as saunas, steam baths, and massages.
  3. Aachen Christmas Market – During Christmas time, the city of Aachen offers one of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany. It’s a great place to take the kids to experience the festive atmosphere, try traditional food and drinks, and purchase unique gifts.
  4. Playmobil FunPark – This indoor playground is a great destination for families with young children. It offers a variety of activities and attractions, including a Playmobil-themed miniature town, a playground, and a train ride.
  5. The Couven Museum – This museum is dedicated to the city’s 18th-century history and is a great place for families to learn about the past in a fun and interactive way. Visitors can see exhibits of furniture, ceramics, and textiles from the period and learn more about the everyday life of the city’s citizens.


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