Aachen, Germany, a city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The city limits on the west follow the national border at the junction of the Belgian and Netherlands frontiers. The city is about 40 miles (64 km) west of Cologne. Aachen is the German name; it is also known by its French name, Aix-la-Chapelle. Aachen is associated with Charlemagne, and is one of the historic cities of Europe. It is famous for its hot sulfur springs.
Aachen is an industrial and railway center. Coal is mined in the vicinity. Industrial products include machinery, textiles, glass, and rubber tires.
The chief landmark is the imperial cathedral, the core of which—called the Octagon—was built by Charlemagne during the 700's. In this cathedral are Charlemagne's tomb and his royal marble chair, on which Holy Roman emperors were crowned until 1531. Adjoining the cathedral is the Gothic Rathaus, or town hall, built around 1330 on the foundations of the royal palace. In the market place in front of the town hall is a statue of Charlemagne. The Rhenish Westphalian Technical College is in Aachen.
In the first century a.d. the Romans used the hot springs for a health resort, which they called Aquae Grani or Aquisgranum. Charlemagne built a palace, magnificent for the time, in Aachen. In the 17th and 18th centuries the city's hot springs became the Spa of Kings, and several international congresses were held there. The French held Aachen 1792-1815, then the Congress of Vienna gave it to Prussia. In 1944 during World War II Aachen was the first German city captured by the Allies. Most of the buildings were damaged or destroyed, but they were rebuilt and restored after the war. The cathedral was not badly damaged.