In August 2014, I was staying in Köln for three nights and it was one of the most fun parts of my European trip for three weeks (of course, I like all the cities that I’ve visited during the trips). Köln is a nice city (well, many people say it’s the ugliest city in Germany, though) but staying for three nights completely in the city can be boring for some people. So, I took a couple of day trips: one to Rhein river ( Rhein River 1, Rhein River 2) and the other one to Aachen & Monschau.
For your information, when you are traveling within Nord Rhine-Westphalia, you can get cheap regional day tickets via Deutsches Bahn. It applies to other federal states in Germany. Thanks to this information, I was able to take any trains/buses on that day trip to Aachen/ Monschau for about 20 Euro.
Before visiting Aachen, I always wanted to visit Aachener dom since it’s the first dom in Germany that was registered as a cultural heritage at UNESCO. It’s such an archaic church that it was constructed by that legendary emperor Charlemagne in the late 8th century. I woke up early in the morning in Köln and took the train to Aachen. It took about an hour.
<Aachen City Center>
Aachen downtown was pleasant and clean so it was fun to walk around. It took about half an hour by feet from the central station to the city center. I personally think the best part of traveling is just enjoying walking around the place and being immersed in the ambience of the places.
<At Centre Charlemagne>
As I mentioned earlier, Emperor Charlemagne ordered to construct the dom in Aachen. The reason why he wanted to build the sumptuous dom is that Aachen is that he was born in Aachen(or maybe nearby). The boy from Aachen eventually grew up to be legendary conquerer in Europe that we still learn his name from European history class.
The exterior look of Aachener dom does not look that different from ordinary cathedrals in Europe. But the inside of the Aachener dom is totally marvelous so many people visiting dom simply said ‘wow!’ and I was one of those many people. Stained glass and golden mosaic ceiling are one of the most sophisticated decorations I’ve ever seen.
<Karlsthron-Emperor Charlemagne’s throne>
This is the throne of Charlemagne. It was erected in 790. Unlike typical throne, the throne is very plain and simple and entirely free of elaboration. Until 1531, it served as the coronation throne of the Kings of Germany, being used at a total of thirty-one coronations. In other words, 31 German kings sat the throne so no wonder why it looks withered. At least, it looks much more comfortable than the iron throne.
<Karlsschrein-Shrine of Charlemagne>
According to Wikipedia, the Karlsschrein (English: Shrine of Charlemagne) in Aachen Cathedral was made in Aachen at the command of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and completed in 1215, after Frederick II’s grandfather, Frederick Barbarossa had exhumed Charlemagne’s bones from their resting place in the Palatine Chapel, Aachen in 1165. It depicts the moment when Charlemagne was enthroned on the front between the representatives of the church at a location which is reserved on all other shrines for Christ alone.
Despite the small size of the dom, the dom is full of symbolic and historical spots in Germany. Visting Aachener dom and listening to the explanation on the history of dom were a great opportunity to learn more about German history.
After walking around, I took a bus to Monschau from bus terminal in Aachen.
Alas, by the time I arrived Monschau, it started pouring that I had to spend some time inside. Unfortunately for me, the last bus from Monschau departs at 4:30PM so I only had one and a half hour to look around this village. It is a pretty small medieval town near the border of Nehterlands, Germany and Belgium. As you might have guessed already, you can see the French influence in the name of the city(Mont-mountain in French). Indeed, there is a small mountain surrounding this village. Since Netherlands is flat, many Dutch people visit here as a resort place to enjoy some climbing. Monschau is a village next to Eifel National Park so many visitors stay here while visiting the park as well.
There are not many locals on the street but these spiders and the tin man welcomes visitors regardless of the weather. For the transportation reason, it is sad that I have to say goodbye to the tin man in the picturesque village.