Aachen Cathedral and Charlemagne’s BMI

Aachen Cathedral

In Aachen Cathedral lies the body of Pater Europae. And who might he be, this Father of Europe, you ask?

When I was an exchange student in the USA, someone once mentioned Charlemagne, a famous emperor of Europe. ‘What?’ I thought at the time. A European emperor I had never heard of? Well, turns out I had, just hadn’t heard him referred to by his French title, Charles le Magne, which, as I learned, is also his name in English. To me, he was Karl den store, Carl (or Charles) the Great.

Charles, as you probably remember from high school history lessons, managed in the late 700s to unite Europe (or Western Europe, at least) for the first time since the Roman Empire, and is known as the founder of the Roman Empire V 2.0, better known as the Holy Roman Empire.

Aachen Cathedral IV

The emperor is thought to have been born here in Aachen, but no one really knows. It could have been Liège, just across the border in present-day Belgium. Details like birth date and location weren’t always taken down in writing a millennium ago. On the other hand, there seems to be little doubt about the details of his death: 28 January 814 in Aachen. He was interred here at Aachen Cathedral on the same day. A few hundred years after his death, Charles was beatified, so this has been a pilgrimage site for centuries.

The emperor lives on in Aachen, through the annual (since 1949) Karlspreis der Stadt Aachen, an international prize awarded to people who promotes European unity. Among the recipients is our friend Winston.

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Aachen Cathedral was one of the very first sites added to the World Heritage list back in 1978. And even though is isn’t one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, or even in Germany, it is very impressive and well worth a look. Charles’ gilded sarcophagus is the main attraction, of course.

Charlemagne II

On the 1200th anniversary of his death – on 28 January this year – scientists concluded, after 26 years’ research, that the bones and fragments inside the sarcophagus of a tall, thin, older man were most likely those of Charles himself.

At 1.84 metres (six feet), he was unusually tall for his time. The team also estimated his weight at around 78 kilograms, giving him a slim body mass index of around 23.

Aachen Cathedral, ceiling III

Aachen Cathedral, ceiling

Have you visited Aachen Cathedral?

 

unesco logo

Aachen Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites we have visited around the world.

22 Responses to “Aachen Cathedral and Charlemagne’s BMI”

  1. Betty J. Ogburn 13 June 2014 2216 #

    …No, I have not (yet) been to Aachen–but the cathedral does look MAGNIFICENT…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 20 June 2014 1250 #

      It’s a beautiful cathedral. Hope you’ll go and see it for yourself, Betty :)

  2. Gayla 13 June 2014 2358 #

    Aachen Cathedral is amazing! It’s one of my favorite churches out of the many we’ve visited. The mosaics are so beautiful; the history is fascinating. Aachen is a nice city and I hope to make it back there, since it’s a short train ride from where we live in the Netherlands. Next trip I want to buy some Aachener Printen cookies to take home with me ;-)
    Gayla recently posted..Things to do in Antwerp – Visit the Market Squares and Shopping Zones

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 20 June 2014 1254 #

      Ooh, I’ve never tried (or even heard of) those cookies. Next time…
      I like Aachen, too – that whole border area, really – in all the three countries.

      • Gayla 20 June 2014 1318 #

        Unfortunately, I haven’t tried them either and only learned of them during a visit to Aachen around Christmas time. Judging by their appearance (large, brown, flat cookies in the shape of people or other images) I imagine they taste similar to Dutch Speculaas, which I have tried and really enjoy. A good enough reason, in my opinion, to take another trip to Aachen ;-)
        Gayla recently posted..Things to do in Paris – Visit La Sainte-Chapelle

        • Anne-Sophie Redisch 20 June 2014 1322 #

          Speculaas… probably the same as spéculoos in France, I imagine. With some sort of image on them – and very tasty, with all kinds of spices. :)

  3. Muza-chan 15 June 2014 2013 #

    Very beautiful…
    Muza-chan recently posted..Japanese mascots, Peko-chan

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 20 June 2014 1255 #

      It is, Lili :)

  4. Mette 19 June 2014 0851 #

    Asa a teenager I’m not sure I would have heard about Karl den Store either, but the Cathedral certainly lives up to his name.
    Mette recently posted..Crossing the Brenner Pass with Instagram

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 20 June 2014 1256 #

      We had a history teacher who loved everything German :)

  5. Mary {The World Is A Book} 20 June 2014 0909 #

    I am so fascinated with European cathedrals and this one is stunning. Unfortunately, I haven’t been here but would love to visit. That gilded sarcophagus is worth the pilgrimage alone to this cathedral.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..Top 10+ Common Misconceptions about GUAM

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 20 June 2014 1256 #

      Next time, eh, Mary?

  6. This looks absolutely stunning! What a beautiful cathedral – I love visiting European cathedrals and that 3rd photo with the stained glass is stunning!
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted..The Street Foods of Rio de Janeiro

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 20 June 2014 1314 #

      Thank you, Shikha. And thanks for stopping by :)

  7. Cathy Sweeney 22 June 2014 2154 #

    Aachen Cathedral is so beautiful — haven’t been there, but feel as though I have via your pics. I’m pretty sure that Charlemagne is the only historic emperor whose BMI I know. Actually, all very interesting information!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Halifax Highlights: Old, New, and Déjà Vu

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 0959 #

      Thank you, Cathy.

  8. Gloria 23 June 2014 1453 #

    Thanks so much for sharing this…the photos are great.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 0959 #

      Thanks.

  9. noel 24 June 2014 1941 #

    What a stunning place of worship, I would love to see this in person some day, gorgeous
    noel recently posted..Travel photo: Silver Pavilion Kyoto

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 July 2014 1000 #

      Hope you do. Easy to get to Aachen. :)

  10. Milena Yordanova 15 August 2014 1038 #

    Stunning cathedral! Aachen is located close to Cologne, which makes it a perfect day trip out of Cologne.
    Milena Yordanova recently posted..2 days in Cologne

  11. Abi 20 August 2014 0805 #

    What an interesting snippet of history. Thank you!

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