Ranked with the most visited cities in Germany, Aachen has a long and exciting history as an imperial city and a spa. In the I century A.D. Roman Legionnaires established the first military bath in Aachen, while by the end of the XVII century the city was known as the Spa of Kings due to the fact that royalty came here to find cures. Rebuilt after World War II, the spa currently enjoys a reputation as a remedial center. Spa gardens are now a central part of resort activity in Aachen, with its beautiful shade trees, attractive ponds and fountains. In 1372 Aachen became the world's first coin issuing city to place an Anno Domini date on circulation coins. However, none with this date exists any longer.
The city's center is relatively small and can be covered on foot. The heart of Aachen is the Marktplatz, overshadowed by the Gothic Rathaus containing the city archives. Perhaps the busiest and the most popular pedestrian precincts in Aachen is Krumerstrasse leading to the Cathedral Square and the renowned Cathedral, recognized as one of the architecture masterpieces in the Western world. Further on is the Elisengarten bordered on the south by the Elisenbrunnen - a thermal drinking fountain. Both the Stadtgarten and Wingerstberg Kurgarten are located to the northeast of Aachen, while the Hauptbahnhof can be found on the southern ring opening to Rimerstrasse.
Many tourists visit Aachen as a sightseeing day trip from Cologne. Those eager to enjoy its hot springs, however, should consider a longer trip. Despite its small territory, the city is rich in historic and cultural sights and attractions that are a definite must-do during Aachen holidays, including Couven Museum, Dom, Rathaus, Suermondt Ludwig Museum, Water Tower Belvedere and more.
One of the most popular sights in Aachen, Couven Museum provides visitors with the insight into the traditions of the late XVIII - early XIX centuries. It is home to one of the best and most extensive collections of unique furnishings and other treasures. Possibly the most famous attraction in the city, Dom features a unique mixture of Baroque, Gothic and Carolingian, united into a fantastic sweep of architecture. The core of the Cathedral is the Palatine Chapel, which is much smaller as compared to the later additions. However, it was the largest dome northwest of the Alps at the time of its construction. The Cathedral Treasury in Aachen is recognized today as one of the most significant ecclesiastical treasuries in northern Europe.
Another popular attraction, the Rathaus was constructed on the site of Charlemagne's palace and features beautifully decorated facade adorned with statues of fifty German rulers, 31 of these crowned in Aachen. It is home to the Imperial Hall, where coronation banquets took place during the period of 1349-1531.
Art lovers should consider a visit to Suermondt Ludwig Museum, home to the magnificent collection of medieval German sculpture, including a Virgin and Child from Tournai School and Madonna in Robes from the Swabian School. The museum also houses an extensive collection of primitive German and Flemish works and XVII century Flemish and Dutch paintings.