Day 293: Aachen CathedralDecember 4, 2017 in Germany
First day in Cologne was naturally spent, outside of Cologne on a day-trip! We've got a few coming up in the next few days, so off we went. Today we were heading to the city of Aachen, about an hour to the west, to visit the famous Cathedral. Train ride was fairly uneventful, just a regular direct train. We've both been surprised at how un-punctual the German trains are, even though they're renowned for being on-time and perfectly scheduled. The reality is quite different!
Arrived in Aachen, and walked 15 minutes from the station (past the usual kebab and mobile phone stores) to the centre of the Old Town where the cathedral is located. This has been a hugely influential cathedral over the years - it was originally built in the 800s to be the private chapel of Charlemagne. It was expanded in the 14th century in the gothic style, though the original octagonal design still remains in the centre. 30+ German kings and 12 German queens have been crowned here, and Charlemagne was (and still is) buried here.
We had a wander around the outside, but unfortunately we couldn't get great views of it since it was surrounded on basically all sides by Christmas markets! Occupational hazard at this time of year I guess. Quite a few tourists around as well, many of them English surprisingly. Since we had Schnitzel and obviously couldn't take him inside, we did rock-paper-scissors on who'd go in first. I lost, again.
So Shandos went in while I sat in a nearby cafe with a dog, a coffee and a piece of cake. But to my surprise, she was back within 30 minutes - it's actually not that large, and you can't see some of the most important stuff (eg Charlemagne's throne and sarcophagus) without paying for a guided tour; a fact unmentioned on the website!
There was a tour happening (in German of course) at midday, in about 15 minutes, so we decided I'd get on that and report back. So I did, and it was quite good! As usual they give you an English brochure of what the guide is saying, but when you get a paragraph and he talks for 10 minutes, you can't help but think you're missing out. At least I got to see the other areas Shandos missed out on, and did plenty of documentation for us.
The cathedral itself is very nice, particularly the unusual octagonal shape in the centre. You're just so used to classic churches having a Latin cross layout, that when they don't it feels quite strange! Interior was heavily decorated with frescoes and mosaics, though they were actually from the 19th century. Charlemagne's throne was cool to see, though it's just a few slabs of marble held together with bronze clamps.
All done, we grabbed some lunch from the markets, then headed home. Grabbed some pasta for dinner; Shandos went shopping while I went to the laundromat - very exciting!Read more