Have you turned on that holiday music yet? If you haven’t, it’s time to press “play,” because we are about to embark on our second Advent Adventure.
This installment of the Holiday Spirit Immersion Program takes us to a medieval city located on the very western edge of Germany. It is close to both the Belgian and Dutch border and is known as Aachen (or Aix-la-Chapelle in French).
Aachen was an extremely important city during the middle ages since it became the capital and political centre of Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire around 800 C.E. And just to make things clear, an abundance of history tends to bring about an abundance of architectural beauty including but not limited to marvellous medieval cathedrals and old towns. Aachen is privilged enough to have both, and fortunately, some of Aachen’s most historic builings managed to escape experiencing irrepairable damage during the Second World War. They still stand for all to explore and admire.
All in all, the city centre’s medieval architecture makes it a perfect setting for a magical Christmas Market.
I have been completely enchanted by European Christmas markets for years, and at the start of November, I finally decided that it was time to pay a visit to the Weihnachtsmarkt motherland. I set the second weekend of advent aside for a whirlwind Advent Adventure in Western Germany. I ended up visiting Aachen for a half a day, and my exploration of city’s Old Town and Christmas Market was accomplished with outstanding success.
This year, Aachen’s Christmas market opened on November 18th and will remain open until December 23rd. It is located in the Old Town around the Aachen Cathedral and Rathaus (city hall). It opens at 11:00 every morning, and if you would like to have the opportunity to slowly saunter around admire the market without hustle and bustle of hundreds of market goers, I recommend arriving at the market right before opening time.
For more detailed information about Aachen’s Christmas Market location and operating hours (including a couple of exceptions to the time listed above), please visit Aachen’s Tourist Services page by clicking here.
The Market in front of the Rathaus
Even if you’re a die-hard Christmas Market fan like me, there are some sights in Aachen that should not be missed even during the shortest of visits. First and foremost, when in Aachen, don’t forget to take a few minutes to admire and go inside the Cathedral. Aachen’s catherdral is Northern Europe’s oldest cathedral. It was build under Charlemagne’s orders and became his burial place after his death. It’s also where the coronation of many German kings and queens took place during the middle ages.
The ceiling just through the main entrance. I don’t know how many minutes I spent staring at it in awe.
Moreover, Aachen’s city hall, also known as the Aachen Rathaus, is incredibly impressive too. It was build during the late middle ages and is situated in the same place as Charlemagne’s original council hall. It also incorporates parts of the older structure.
The marketsquare-side of the City Hall includes statues of 50 kings.
After finally finishing my mug of delicious gluhwein and having my fill of Belgian fries with mayo on the side, I headed back to the city’s hauptbahnhof in order to catch my train to Cologne for more advent adventures.
I have to say that I’m not done with you yet, Aachen. Half a day in the city gave me just a small taste of what Aachen has to offer and I am already looking forward to coming back for round two – and next time time, a visit to the city’s thermal baths will be a must.
Has the Christmas season got you under its glittering spell? SnowtoSeas Advent Adventures aren’t over just yet. Prepare to depart on a trip to yet another Christmas market soon (I’m keeping the destination a surprise). However, if you need your festive fix now, check out the first Advent Adventure in Zurich, Switzerland by clicking here.
Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!