BURT W OLF TRAVELS & TRADITIONS AACHEN, GERMANY The city of Aachen lies in the westernmost Charlemagne’s throne is a simple throne madepart of Germany and borders with Belgium of great slabs of white marble. But not just anyand the Netherlands. Tribes have been living ordinary marble for this Holyhere since the Stone Age. Celtic families also Roman Emperor. The stonesliked the neighborhood and so did the are said to come from theRomans. But what really put Aachen on the tomb of Jesus.map were the kings of the Franks. The Franks Thirteen windows decoratewere a German-speaking people who the Cathedral. Each are 100invaded Western Europe in the 5th century. feet high. Between theThe word France comes from the Franks. And windows stand fourteenthe superstar of the Frankish kings was a guy statues---the Mother of God,named Charlemagne who came to power at the Twelve Apostles and ofthe end of the 700s. course, Charlemagne. Charlemagne made On Christmas Day in the year 800, Aachen the capital of what we now call EuropeCharlemagne resurrected the idea of the and for hundreds of years it was the city inRoman Empire by having himself crowned which the rulers of Germany were crowned.Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III. Eventually the political importance of the Charlemagne had created a super-state that palace at Aachen declined, and the powerbrought together all the Christian shifted to the Cathedral. Precious relics werecommunities of Western Europe, it stretched brought to Aachen by Charlemagne andfrom Denmark to Romania. The emperor’s placed in his imperial chapel. After his deathfavorite city and the site of his royal hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came tohousehold was Aachen. Aachen to see them. These great pilgrimages And the started during the 1300s and were known asCathedral that Shrine Pilgrimages. To a considerable extenthe built for his these journeys were the forerunners of today’scourt is still holiday travel. You took a break from yourstanding. The normal day-to-day life and headed off to seechurch is made something new.up of three Starting in the middle of the 14th century; itdistinct parts: became church policy to display its greatestFirst is the relics only once every seven years. It is a customoctagon which forms the central part of the which still holds. Every seventh year, for thestructure. It is modeled after the circular past 700 years, Aachen declares a Sabbath Yearchurch of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. It’s has and presents an exhibition of its most sacredeight sides which is typical of Greek churches. objects, namely, the cloak of the Virgin Mary,The interior of the dome is covered with a the swaddling-clothes of the Infant Jesus, thegold mosaic. Over the spot where loin-cloth worn by Jesus on the Cross, and theCharlemagne was buried is an enormous cloth on which lay the head of St. John thecandelabra---a gift from the Emperor Baptist after his beheading. Between theBarbarossa. Sabbath Years, these relics are kept in the
Burt Wolf—Travels & Traditions Shrine of Our Lady, Charlemagne’s old Royal Hall. located in Aachen’s Inside are a set of frescos that tell the story of Cathedral, which is a Charlemagne’s life. Even during his lifetime, masterwork created Charlemagne was called the father of Europe, by the goldsmiths of particularly of France and Germany. Aachen in 1238. The hall also contains the Crown Jewels, well; Aachen became the actually they are copies of the Crown Jewels. Just most impor tan t before Napoleon invaded Aachen in 1794, thepilgrimage site north of the Alps and a gathering Crown Jewels were sent to the Emperor ofpoint for pilgrims setting out for Santiago de Austria with a note that said “keep these jewelsCompostela in northern Spain. Just around the safe”. But the Emperor misread the note, hecorner from the Cathedral is a wall which holds a thought it read "keep these jewels in your safe"scallop shell---the symbol of Santiago. It points to and today they are still there. It’s all aboutthe place where pilgrims gathered before they penmanship.set off on the 1,235 mile walk to Spain. HOT SPRINGS ETERNALTOWN HALL The name Aachen refers back to the ancient The center of Aachen is the town square and it Celtic god of healing and the god’s associationtells the story of Aachen’s history for the past 650 with hot spring waters.years. Originally, it was part of an important road Roman soldiers werethat connected Rome to the Netherlands and particularly attracted towas used as a stopping point and a market place. hot springs and oftenIt’s still a market place where local farmers from bui l t s e tt l em en tsGermany, Belgium and the Netherlands come to nearby. The salts in thesell their goods. hot water increased the In the middle of the buoyancy of their bodies and helped relieve theirmarket is Aachen’s pain and exhaustion. The troops felt they wereoldest fountain. It was floating back to health.cast in 1620 and It was Charlemagne’s interest in those hotpresents Charlemagne springs that originally attracted him to the area.holding the symbols of But he was not the only big name that came tohis office. Aachen for the springs. Casanova came because The buildings around the square were once he believed the waters would rejuvenate histhe homes of Aachens richest families. sexual powers. And they must have done The Lowenstein House is the show-piece of thesquare. It’s named after Anna Lowenstein whobuilt it in 1344. WHERE TO STAY The building that houses the Goldener EinhornRestaurant dates back to the Middle Ages andwas a hotel for pilgrims visiting the shrine atAachen. Across the square is the Postwagen buildingwhich is one of the few remaining structuresmade of wood and probably the oldest. Today it EXCELSIOR HOTEL ERNSTcontains a restaurant serving the local specialties TRANKGASSE 1-5 / DOMPLATZof the area. 50667 COLOGNE, GERMANY On one side of the square is Aachen’s ancient T: 011 49 (0) 221 2701Town Hall. It was originally built in the 1300s and WWW.EXCELSIOR-HOTEL-ERNST.DEits foundation and dimensions are identical with 2 Copyright 2006 Acorn Associates, Ltd.
Aachen, Germanysomething because he came back three times.But he was always disguised---didn’t want the WHERE TO EATword getting out that his sex life was medicallyenhanced. Another famous guest was theEmpress Josephine who wanted to have childrenwith Napoleon. She stopped in to improve herfertility. Fortunately, Josephine and Casanovawere never here at the same time.SPA For centuriesmineral springs CAFÉ VAN DEN DAELEwere thought to BÜCHEL 18 / ECKE KÖRBERGASSEhave magical 52062 AACHEN, GERMANYpowers that could T: 011 49 (0)241 357 24heal the sick. WWW.VAN-DEN-DAELE.DESometimes themagic was attributed to the water and MAIER-PEVELING’Ssometimes to powerful spirits who were thought WWW.MAIER-PEVELINGS.COMto live in the springs. It really didn’t make anydifference to the people who came for relief as KLEIN PRINTEN BAKERYlong as they got better. FRANZSTRASSE 91 Natural spring water can be divided into three 52064 AACHEN, GERMANYtypes: T: 011 49 (0)241 47 4350 There are salt waters that are filled with WWW.PRINTEN.DEdissolved mineral salts like Epsom salt which isnamed after England’s Epsom springs. There arealso a series of salt waters that containmagnesium sulfate. People drink the waters thatcontain magnesium sulfate because of theirpurgative effects. It is nature’s DRAINO. The second category of spring water containsrust-colored iron oxide which is considered tohave a restorative effect. The third group is made up of waters thatcontain hydrogen sulfide—a gas you willrecognize because it smells like rotten eggs. The THE FOUNTAINS OF AACHENwaters at the spa in Aachen contain hydrogen-sulfide. People drink it and bath in it and give it For thousands of years, people believed that anycredit for an assortment of cures. place where water came up from the earth was During the 1800’s hot springs became a sacred and those spots were often surroundedpreferred hangout for the rich and famous. They by fountains or temples. Not surprising, Aachenfelt that the destructive effects of their high life is covered in fountains.could be corrected by an extended visit to a hot The most popular fountain in Aachen for bigsprings resort. However, the environment at and little children is the Puppet Fountain. Thethese resorts offered a level of personal freedom many moveable figures on the Puppet Fountainthat was, to say the least, excessive. Away from are not only fun to play with, but also representtheir families and totally on their own---the the many industries of Aachen: textiles, religion,guests were getting into hot water. commerce, science, and education. 3Copyright 2006 Acorn Associates, Ltd.
Burt Wolf—Travels & TraditionsAACHEN UNIVERSITY Aachen and incorporated the town into the One of Charlemagne’s objectives was to make French empire of Napoleon. Napoleon had aAachen a cultural and educational center. soft spot for the city, since he consideredAccordingly, he brought some of Europe’s himself the cultural descendant ofmost talented scholars to the city. His vision is Charlemagne and believed, like Charlemagne,still in operation at the Rhineland-Westphalia he would unite all of Europe under one ruler.Technical University. It has transformed the Aachen’s time under French control had aregion into a focal point for researchers number of benefits. The economy improved.working on automobile technology, laser Currency, weights and measures weredevelopment, and medicine as well as the standardized. The restrictive guild system wasdesign and manufacturing of microchips. dissolved. Transportation was improved. But to my mind, the most important FrenchINTERNATIONAL NEWSPAPER MUSEUM influence to remain in Aachen can be found at Aachen’s intellectual environment is also the restaurant Maier-Peveling’s.reflected in the city’s International Newspaper About 25 years ago, Christof Lang opened anMuseum which is based elegant French restaurant called La Becasse.in the house where in But some part of Christof’s heart belonged to a1850 Israel Reuter typical type of German fast-food called aestablished the Reuters “currywurst”. Currywurst was invented in BerlinNews Service. in 1949 and consists of a grilled Bratwurst It was the first news sausage, sliced into bite-size pieces andagency and it is still in covered with ketchup that has been laced withoperation. The building curry. It is traditionally served with French friedcontains over 170,000 newspapers with the potatoes and a bread roll and has become soearliest examples dating back to the 1500’s. popular that during the In German, a newspaper is called a “Zeitung“ spring of 2006 over 6which is a word that dates back to the 1300s million dollars wereand refers to a message about a recent event. spent building aThe Einkommende Zeitungen published in National CurrywurstLeipzig Germany in 1650 was the first daily Museum.paper. The Penny Magazine was the first Currywursts areillustrated paper. The Amsterdamsche Courant available from smallprinted its advertising section at right angles in fast-food joints in virtually every German city.order to distinguish between advertisements But the fast-food joints were uncomfortableand editorial content. and when you left you often smelled of The museum has a copy of the Diario di Roma cooking oil. Christof wanted to make thewhich was published during the early 1800s. It world’s finest currywursts and perfect Frenchis the world’s smallest newspaper. L’autre fries. And Maier-Peveling’s is the result. TheMonde was published in Paris and was printed sausages are made daily from Christof’s ownwith gold ink on black paper. It claimed to have recipe. The French fries, which are trulyoriginated from another world. The Tristan outstanding, are made to order and servedTimes is published on a small island in the with different sauces that are made in Christof’sSouth Atlantic and because the island had no elegant French restaurant. The only sauce theycurrency, the paper sold for four potatoes. don’t make is the tomato ketchup which isHome delivery was an extra potato or two Heinz---some things just can’t be improvedonions. upon. They offer a selection of beers, soft drinks, wines, even champagne. And he’s put aWHAT’S COOKING giant air-conditioner on the roof to keep theIn 1794, a French revolutionary army occupied atmosphere fresh so you won’t smell like 4 Copyright 2006 Acorn Associates, Ltd.
Aachen, GermanyFrench fries when you leave. WORLD EQUESTRIAN FESTIVAL And as long as we are talking Every year in June hundreds of thousands ofabout “what’s cooking” in visitors come to Aachen for one week to admireAachen, allow me to introduce the horses at the World Equestrian Festival. Theyou to printen. The word competition includes everything from show“printen” comes from the jumping to carriage driving.English word “print.” In Aachen Horses have been in the neighborhood for atit refers to a sweet, spicy, flat, least 30,000 years and it was Charlemagne’sand hard cookie that is made in horse pawing the ground that uncovered the hota mold and because you could springs that made Aachen Charlemagne’smake many cookies that were favorite town. Charlemagne himself wasthe same, bakers thought of it as being like passionate about breeding horses.printing. They were developed by an Aachen At the end of the festival everyone celebratesbaker about 300 years ago and became the with music, dancing and a promise to return nextfavorite of the pilgrims. They have an interesting year.taste, they’re nourishing, easy to carry aroundand they don’t get stale for months. These days,the bakers of Aachen produce over 4,500 tons of TO LEARN MORE. . .Printen a year. GERMAN NATIONAL TOURIST BOARD The Café van den Daele was founded by a WWW.D-Z-T.COMBelgian pastry chef. It consists of four historicbuildings. The oldest dates to 1655. Because each AACHEN TOURIST SERVICEbuilding was built at a different time and WWW.AACHEN-TOURIST.DEdesigned to meet the needs of a different familythe inside rooms are connected by staircases and AACHEN CATHEDRALsteps that lead in and out of seven different WWW.AACHENDOM.DErooms. Picturesque for the patrons, not thatmuch fun for the waiters. The original baker was a CAROLUS THERMEN SPAcollector of furniture, pictures and baking tins KUR-UND BADEGESELLSCHAFT MGHwhich are still on display. KURVERWALTUNG BAD AACHEN, GERMANY The restaurant menu has a number of classic T: 011 49 (0)241 182 74 121 WWW.CAROLUS-THERMEN.DEGerman dishes. But they’ve each been given aslight twist that makes them quite interesting. INTERNATIONALES ZEITUNGSMUSEUM DERSauerbraten, is beef STADTR AACHEN—INTERNATIONALthats been marinated NEWSPAPER MUSEUMin vinegar and wine for PONTSTRASSE 13a couple of days, and 52062 AACHEN, GERMANYthen roasted. Then the T: 011 49 (0)241 432 4508marinade is used to WWW.IZM.DEmake a sauce. Butwhen they’re making the sauce here they add RWTH AACHEN UNIVERSITYprinten cookies which gives it a gingerbread WWW.RWTH-AACHEN.DEsweetness. The rolled beef dish is filled with sautéed onions, SABINE MATHIEU – AACHEN TOUR GUIDEbacon, and pesto sauce and served with FOR GUIDED TOURS OF AACHEN, CONTACT THEsauerkraut and roasted potatoes. Very nice. AACHEN TOURIST SERVICE AT EMAIL: Van Den Daele is considered to be one of the INFO@AACHEN-TOURIST.DEfinest cafes in Germany and is particularly famous T: 011 49 (0) 241 1 80 2960for its baked goods. 5Copyright 2006 Acorn Associates, Ltd.